Namin’ names

In yesterday’s MediaScout (shameless plug!) I wrote about the ongoing Volpe campain donations story.  One element I didn’t get to touch on was the naming of the young donors.

The Globe has been on this story the hardest, here‘s what they wrote yesterday.

Is anything gained by publishing the kids names?

I fully understand that the Globe has every right to print them but there’s a big difference between what you can do and what you should do. It’s about finding the balance. Does the newsworthiness of the names of three kids outweigh the potential damage done to them? Would the story have been weaker without them?

I’m genuinely torn here, perhaps indicating that I’m getting softer in my old age. I think the story would have exactly the same impact if it said “three children, whose parents also donated the maximum amount.  The parents are related by marriage to Barry Sherman, the chairman of Apotex Inc., Canada’s largest generic-drug maker.”

I know, I know. I’m getting soft.

1 comment

  1. This is an interesting case. If the children did donate their own money then they did nothing wrong and, in fact, did something perfectly legal. If this is the case, then they have done nothing to warrant their names being withheld (even though I’m not sure it adds anything to this story, I don’t believe journalists should withhold name just because).

    However, if the children were to be accused in some sort of illegal act, then they should not be named.

    In fact, Byron Calame (NYT Public Editor) discusses that in this week’s column (it’s on the second page, after the Bill and Hilary stuff).

    In that case, I agree with Calame’s suggested rule: Children under 12 years of any age should never be named if they are accused of an illegal act (therefore the twins in our case should not be name – if they are accused of an illegal act) and the 14-year-old should only be named with the direct consent of a Masthead Editor.

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