Sunday, December 25, 2005

Should NYTimes have helped child pornographer come clean?

Following up on the story of the NY Times journalist getting a child pornographer (of himself and others) to quit his career, get off drugs, use an NYT-connected lawyer, and help prosecute other pornographers he knew:

Slate's editor, Jack Schafer, wrote a story criticizing the NYT and Kurt Eichenwald, the journalist in question; Eichenwald replied, Schaffer countered, and it has turned into a great, heated debate, with replies by Eichenwald, counters by Schafer, and readers weighing in.
Shafer: ...imagine a Times reporter encountering an 18-year-old who had been thrust into the illicit drug business at 13 as a consequence of his neglectful family and unscrupulous dealers? Would he help the young man leave the drug trade and find him a lawyer at a Washington firm who is "a former federal prosecutor," as Eichenwald did Berry? Not likely. Would a Times reporter extend similar assistance to an 18-year-old female prostitute?

Eichenwald: Of course, we could have reported these crimes to the government ourselves—but I thought that crossed a line from reporter to witness. Plus, there were source confidentiality issues in play at that point—how do I reveal this, without revealing the source?