When journalism goes too far

We live in an increasingly politically correct world, and yet, the bounds of journalism seem to be extending in the opposite direction.

That’s because journalism is no longer being conducted solely by journalists. Editors and reporters are still out there, but they’re being usurped by bloggers and anybody who owns an iPhone.

Why read a full-length article on the New York Times when you could scroll over a headline on Facebook, read someone’s post about it on Reddit, view it in picture form on Buzzfeed, or read about it in a more casual, informal way on Gawker?

Websites like Gawker especially seem to push the limits of journalism. It’s shown that they will pretty much post whatever Gawkerthey have to in order to get attention. Mixing gossip and entertainment with occasional hard news, Gawker prides itself in its “independent journalism” and fearlessness.

And it appears that recklessness may have finally caught up with them.

Last week, the company posted an article about the married CEO of rival media company Conde Nast, David Geithner, who tried to pay $2,500 for a night with a male escort.

But if you read the article, you’ll see that the story isn’t necessarily about just that. The escort, who is never named, essentially blackmailed Geithner into helping him with a legal matter once he learned who he was. Geithner did not, and the escort turned to Gawker.

It’s a pretty screwed up situation, and Gawker posted about it, with text message and photo evidence, in great detail. But after the website faced severe criticism for the article, which really offered zero entertainment or informational value — and really only served to screw up the life of (and publicly out) a rival executive — its managing partnership voted to remove it, a rarity for the website.

There’s so much going on in the world … and yet, this is something that Gawker felt compelled to report on.

And today, the last shoe fell, as Gawker’s editor and editor-in-chief resigned.

I say good riddance. Websites like Gawker claim they have the utmost editorial integrity, when in reality, I think it’s quite the opposite. Editorial integrity is learning about something juicy, and having the ability to understand what value there is in exposing it to the public. Sometimes not reporting anything is true integrity.

Furthermore, I’m glad there is a precedent set to show that there is indeed a line that can be crossed. Journalism in general needed one.

Gawker is a glorified gossip blog. The New York Times, Washington Post and BBC News, meanwhile, still know how to tell important stories with dignity, even if their websites aren’t as appealing or as colorful. But I really hope that today’s generation of kids still seek them out when they really want to know what’s important in the world.

Or, god help them … they could come here.

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