Sunday, June 10, 2007
Is somebody watching me? It's probably Google or a journalist.
After reading an article in “Slate” online magazine about privacy issues and after spending my day tracking down people and police reports, I feel like a good-old blog to end the day. Google, which “Slate” describes as the “kid who brings an M-80 to the neighborhood barbecue. While everyone else is goofing off with sparklers,” has created an online updated photo album of your neighborhood, maybe.
“Google Street View,” uploads photos from camera-equipped vans that drive around taking photos of the streets of San Francisco, Las Vegas, New York, Denver and Miami. While we all love spending hours on “Google Satellite” and have so many times thought how great it would be if those satellite photos could get a bit closer, how close is too close? Too close for Mary Kalin-Casey who is upset that a Google camera took a photo of her tabby cat, Monty, through her window.
Little Monty is stirring things up.
How much of journalism relates to getting in other peoples’ business? A lot, and often rightly so as journalism functions as a watchdog on the government, updater on law regulation and decider of social rights and wrongs. Most readers are nosy and want to know what’s going on, but I can’t help feel like I should mind my own business sometimes.
Maybe it’s not just me, maybe society is encouraging this behavior and I feel guilty for everybody caught on the wrong side of “newsworthy.” Is it newsworthy when a celebrity gains five pounds and smokes a cigarette at the beach? Do journalists have the right to destroy somebody’s reputation, even when the information is correct, for the sake of a story that will be forgotten in a week? Beyond legality, what is ethical? We all make mistakes, and I feel lucky there isn’t somebody around with a camera and recorder to document my screw-ups. We all deserve a do-over.
The sad part of all of this guilt is that it’s trumped by excitement. Adrenaline is a funny thing and maybe a necessary thing when it comes to being a good reporter. I need that shocking flow of goodness driving me to ask the controversial question or make the phone call to the family member who lost a loved one or the student charged with drunk driving.
I do feel guilty, but I also feel thrilled when it all comes together.
Click here for the “Slate" article
Click here to go to “Google Street View”