In class we discussed one student, I believed named Austin from the North Texas Daily and how he underwent a form of journalism research.
Austin and his counterpart (I forgot his name) put up a prompt on the screen asking what we as journalists would do if we were presented with their ethical issue. They asked: if you were a heterosexual individual and created a Grindr account–typically known as a dating application for the male gay community–looking for men to speak out on their experiences for an NT Daily article, and offended a member of the community, how would you deal with the issue as a journalist.
The two boys discussed how Austin created the account just looking for people who would be open to discuss their stories and was clear about his intent on the Grindr bio. His biography line (reworded/paraphrased) read a long the lines of: I am a UNT NT Daily reporter hoping to write an article about members of the gay community and am looking for people who would like to meet up for interviews.
The issue with his research was that during one of his interviews, the person asked him if he was gay to which he responded no. This caused the man to become upset because he felt as though regardless of the story, the journalist shouldn’t have been on the app if he wasn’t a member of the gay community.
The question presented to the class is what should he have done differently and what should he do now.
Personally, he probably should have identified his sexuality on the bio but I completely understand where he came from. I do think perhaps the student overreacted but I do also see where was coming from. It is a slippery slope.
The student issued his complaint on Twitter to which the Daily apologized. I think they made the right move apologizing–they need to keep their readers happy but I do think its unfortunate the story was dropped. They could still run it, Austin should just look for his research elsewhere. I understand Grindr was the easiest application but he could’ve looked anywhere else, and he still can!
The EIC also apologized with her own statement to the public which I thought was very professional.
I understand where both parties are coming from but for future reference, I think the journalist should go about the research on the more “difficult” path and not use applications or anything of that sort unless undercover for a piece or unless they were very blatant to respect others opinions and feelings.
Overall, Austin I do think you made minor mistakes in your reporting–but they were simple mistakes anyone could’ve made. Ethics are a hard topic as a journalist to know what is exactly “right.” Cancelling the story right now is in my opinion right. Once the issue blows over and you have time to do more research using another method I think it will be a great story giving a minority group some proper representation!