Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Dark Secrets

Kurt Eichenwald of The New York Times had an incredible story in Monday's paper that traces the descent of a 13-year-old boy into the world of online teen pornography. "Through His Webcam, a Boy Joins a Sordid Online World" is a compelling narrative made more powerful by the documentation provided by the California teenager, Justin Berry, who reveals a world where adults easily prey on children enticed by flattery and quick money. Eichenwald's story raises tricky ethical issues because he and the Times turned much of Berry's information over to prosecutors and because they paid to help Berry recover from alcohol and drug problems. The lords of journalism ethics usually say that reporters shouldn't act as investigative arms of prosecutors and shouldn't buy things for sources, but in this case I think Eichenwald and the Times did the right thing. What do you think?
My thanks to Jeremy Kohler and Robert Lemos for pointing me to this story.


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