Unethical Website Of The Month, Sort of: Newsball


I had never heard of Newsball until I read a sneering account of Cole Baritomo’s “news blog” in the Daily Beast, titled “He Bullies Kids and Calls It News,” by DB reporter Brandy Zadrozny. She caught me at a bad time, because I was still gagging from reading an outrageous, incompetent, slanted and useless Daily Beast account of the Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling striking down a Massachusetts law establishing anti-protest “buffer zones” around abortion clinics as a First Amendment violation. Nobody reading this mess could possibly figure out what the ruling was about, what it was, and the distinctions it drew. There were no quotes from the opinion, no discussion of the important disagreements among the justices, not even a clear description of what a buffer zone is, or what the law that was struck down said. The reporter, however, quoted Plannned Parenthood three times—yes, they are certainly the most unbiased analysts of this issue. Then the screed masquerading as news reporting ended with this: Continue reading

The Ethics of Outing the Movie Star

My least favorite website, the ethically challenged Gawker, became the latest media source to publish rapidly spreading tales of the gay sexual escapades of a well-known Hollywood leading man who is also married, has children, attracts a great deal of positive publicity because of his family life, and, to cap it all off, is a high-profile member of a church (the Church of Scientology) that has in the past treated homosexuality as a curable malady. A book is coming out, and the author is pumping up interest in the tabloids.

The ethical question: is this legitimate news? Should it be reported? If it isn’t news, but rather a vile and mean-spirited invasion of privacy, then Gawker, as usual, is wading in slime. If, however, it is news, then why is the mainstream media ignoring the story?

This is a messy ethical conflict. Continue reading