The Facebook Conundrum: The New Haven Independent and the Annie Le Murder

During class on Tuesday, Sept. 20, we will debate a case study: The Facebook Conundrum: The New Haven Independent and the Annie Le Murder. The case, which is free, is part of the Knight Case Studies Initiative at Columbia University‘s Graduate School of Journalism.

The case study assignment is worth 10 points. The first part, worth 5 points, is to post a brief response (250 words or less) as a comment to this blog entry addressing one of these two questions:

1. What are Bailey’s responsibilities to Del Rocco when reporting on her Facebook page?

2. What factors should Bass weigh to determine whether to run Del Rocco’s posts?

Your response must be posted by 11:59 p.m. Monday, Sept. 19, for full credit. In your response, cite specific facts from your own reading of the case. It’s not acceptable to piggy-back on your classmates’ answers without reading the case yourself.

The second 5 points will be awarded on the basis of your contributions to the case study discussion in class.

Enjoy the case! (And bring your ‘A’ game on Tuesday.)

30 thoughts on “The Facebook Conundrum: The New Haven Independent and the Annie Le Murder

  1. Bailey sent the friend request to Del Rocco and Del Rocco accepted, giving Bailey access to her status updates. And, she even kept her as a friend after Bailey identified herself as a reporter who was searching for information on Clark.
    These posts are on the Internet where Del Rocco should know, once it’s on the Internet, anyone and everyone can see it or at least hear about what she posts. This information will (most likely) not just stay with her 350 or so Facebook friends. These “friends” can “share” the post on their own pages, screenshot the status and sent it to anyone they know, or at least tell people what the post said.
    Alfred Hermida said, “This content is both private and public at the same time. It is private in the sense that it was intended for a specific audience of friends. But it is also publicly available online. This is a new ethical area for journalists”.
    This is not the only professional who said something like this.
    The Times said, “[w]hat people write on Facebook sites is publicly available information, like anything posted on any site that is not encrypted.”
    As long as Bailey is not using Del Rocco’s name, I don’t think there is a problem with using the information she finds on her Facebook page. They have not identified this woman’s name before and for safety reasons, and I don’t believe they should release it now. But since the information is on the internet, and anyone can share it or screenshot it, I think it is ok information to use, as long as they don’t release her name.

  2. Bailey doesn’t have responsibilities to Del Rocco. Del Rocco accepted Bailey’s friend request, allowing Bailey to see current status updates as well as access to see her Facebook friends. Once Del Rocco accepted, Bailey identified herself as a reporter and asked for an interview, which Del Rocco nicely declined, but kept Bailey as a friend.
    Del Rocco was posting statues and “responded to the news that her ex-boyfriend, Raymond Clark, was the murder suspect.” Since Del Rocco was updating her “friends” and Bailey about her emotions, she is essentially giving them the right to share her post, therefore making it visible to more people and could get in the hands of other journalist or reporters.
    As stated in the article “the information bailey accessed behind Del Rocco’s was wasn’t encrypted.” Meaning they would consider her post public. Bailey would never mention Del Rocco’s names, concealing her identity. And “Bass and Bailey were confident that no other journalist would name her, at least not in the short term, because no other journalist had the police report.” From six years ago. Therefore Bailey doesn’t have responsibility to Del Rocco because she accepted and Bailey enclosed who she was.

  3. I found this case extremely interesting because there are so many loopholes and gray areas when it comes to what is okay or not ethically. There are many factors and considerations Bailey has to weigh and think about before making a decision about what to do with Del Rocco’s Facebook posts, and to me, the most important thing to think about is the precedent that this case would set. Even though Del Rocco accepted a friends request from a reporter, Bailey needs to think about, if this case was ruled as legal to use the posts, how this would effect all other situations in which Facebook posts can be obtained for a story and published. This includes the impact that it will have not only on the person whose posts are being published, but what precedent it sets for internet privacy and how it will effect other people in other cases in the future.

  4. 1. What are Bailey’s responsibilities to Del Rocco when reporting on her Facebook page?
    a. As a journalist, Bailey must uphold her journalistic integrity when she reports to Del Rocco about her Facebook page for the story at the Independent. Bailey took the correct prelimary steps by messaging Del Rocco “identifying herself as a reporter and asked if she was willing to be interviewed.” While I agree with Bailey that she should have “identified [herself] as a reporter when [she] friended her,” the ethical move to tag herself as a reporter for this story gives Bailey more creditbility. While there is an ethical dilemma on what to extract and publish from Del Rocco’s Facebook page, Bailey is legally sound if by choosing to report on certaining findings on her wall since they are Facebook friends. In fact, the article reported Times allows social media personal information to be used because according to communication law, “what people write on Facebook sites is publicly available information, like anything posted on any site that is not encrypted. Ultimately, Bailey’s decision when reporting findings from her Facebook page would be purely ethical. Her duty as a journalist, specifically at the Independent, is to “do no harm” to the community it covered in New Haven, so it would be irresponsible of Bailey to report on an innocent person such as Del Rocco, who was an unfortunate connection to the case of Annie Le that was not directly related to her.
    2. What factors should Bass weigh to determine whether to run Del Rocco’s posts?
    a. Two factors Bass should weigh to determine whether to run Del Rocco’s posts are the Independent’s responsibility to its readers and the ethics behind posting personal information on Del Rocco, a source that helps the story but is not entirely relevant. Bailey stated Independent reports feel responsible and accountable to the community they servce because “our mentality’s really different, being more like a grassroots community newsppaer. We’re jnot just flying in to do the story and leaving, so I think we’re more sensitive to the people we’re covering.” Because it is a smaller newspaper, there is a larger responsibility to cover as in-depth as possible since not many people would report on New Haven outside of a huge, national story; thus, there may be a greater need for investigative reporting and pulling Del Rocco’s personal information to fill out the story, provide background on Raymond Clark and make it more “colorful.” Also, Bass must address his journalistic ethics when deciding whether to publish Del Rocco’s posts. Even if he went with an option to make her anonymous, the small community still allows for anonymity to be uncovered. As Bailey stated about the Independent,”We’re here every day and we need to build relationships with people and have them trust us.” For the newspaper to thrive and survive, there needs to be readership and more importantly reader engagement. If Bass is willing to post Del Rocco’s information, he must factor whether it is worth to compromise readerhip trust and cross into murky territory since it is technically legal to publish but may not be the most ethical way to execute the story.

  5. Because Del Rocca willingly accepted Bailey’s friend request, and remained friends with her after Bailey identified herself as a reporter, Bailey did not have any responsibility of Del Rocco in shielding these posts from the public. Even though Del Rocco’s posts were posted so that only her friends could see her statuses, by accepting Bailey, Del Rocco was allowing Bailey access to this information. Bailey has the responsibility of not harming his sources and subjects, but because it was agreed on that Del Rocco’s name would not be included in any articles, publishing her statuses would not pose any significant damage. Bass should determine whether or not sharing this information with the public would hurt or affect Del Rocco’s reputation. The article mentions the news coverage of the Virginia Tech University mass shootings in 2007, and how many journalists posed as fake people or created fake memorial groups in order to receive information. This is a great of example of abusing a source’s privacy on social media by using secretive and manipulative tactics. For the dilemma of using Del Rocco’s statuses however, this was not the case. Bailey identified herself as journalist and also fairly acquired the information about the claim she had made about Clark. Because of these factors, I believe that Bailey did have the right to use Del Rocco’s Facebook statuses.

  6. As a journalist, Bailey has several ethical responsibilities to Del Rocco when reporting on her Facebook page. First of all, despite that Del Rocco accepted her friend request on Facebook, she declined to be interviewed when Bailey approached her about a story. Bailey should be responsible for respecting Del Rocco’s privacy, even though she is very public on Facebook. As a responsible journalist, Bailey cannot go against a source’s word and in this case, Del Rocco’s word was to not be interviewed for the story. The reporters had already written about the police report filed by Del Rocco and they appropriately acted by not updating or publishing a new story on her Facebook posts.

  7. 2. I can understand the dilemma that Paul Bass and Melissa Bailey faced. This occurred as social media began to take off – there were no rules set in place. As the case study notes, privacy is about intrusion and this is the first factor Bass should consider. In my opinion, there was no intrusion that took place. Del Rocco accepted the friend request and then kept Bailey as a friend even after she had announced herself as a reporter. The status updates were posted for hundreds of people to see. The second factor would be to release Del Rocco’s name or not – which I agreed that they should not use the name since she is innocent of any crime. Another factor is that Del Rocco did decline the offer to be interviewed, and in this case, it would seem that she doesn’t want anyone using her words in a published piece and furthermore did not verbally agree to let reports use her content. Bass wanted to provide straight-ahead news and a democracy. He would have to deliver the facts without using edgy reporting or opinion pieces. Releasing her statuses would be delivering the facts.

  8. This is definitely an interesting situation. On one hand you have Bailey who is now friends with Del Rocco on Facebook and is finding helpful information via Del Rocco’s statuses. On the other hand you have Del Rocco who accepted Bailey and stayed friends with her even after Bailey told her she was a reporter. I feel that despite the fact that Bailey made Del Rocco aware of the fact that she was a reporter, Bailey should still maintain some ethical responsibilities. At one point in the case it was stated that “the information Bailey had accessed behind Del Rocco’s wall wasn’t ‘encrypted,’ so the Times would apparently consider Del Rocco’s Facebook postings public.” It then goes on to say “but just because material was public did not necessarily mean it was ethical to publish it.” I completely agree with that statement. While ultimately the friend request was accepted and Bailey had access to all of Del Rocco’s posts I feel that as a journalist Bailey should be more ethically responsible.

  9. The issue with this case is best summed up by Alfred Hermida’s quote about social network content: “This content is both private and public at the same time. It is private The Facebook Conundrum in the sense that it was intended for a specific audience of friends. But it is also publicly available online.” In my opinion, Bailey would not be unethical by using the information she gathered from Del Rocco’s Facebook page. When Del Rocco accepted the Facebook friend request she was giving her friends access to whatever was posted. If Del Rocco immediately ufriended Bailey when she found out she was a reporter, then I would believe that using the information was unethical. The status updates were newsworthy, so I think the best thing for Bailey to do would be to publish the information and try to preserve Del Rocco’s anonymity.

  10. I find it interesting how conflicted and torn I am in regards to this case. The number of changing variables, along with the insurmountable gray area, continues to boggle my mind and makes it almost impossible for me to settle on a side of this argument. First and foremost, and perhaps I’m missing the main point of the issue to begin with, I found myself continually confused with the amount of fuss and significance placed on the Facebook posts written by Jessica Del Rocco. Yes, she was the high school ex-girlfriend of Raymond Clark, the suspect in the murder of Annie Le, but the relationship between Clark and Del Rocco seems to be of much less important than other facts pertaining to this case. I know the author compares this case to the Voinov case, the only quasi-precedent around dealing with this subject-matter, but in my opinion, the relevance of these cases are incomparable. For starters, Voinov’s Facebook post proved highly important to his case, as it indicated that he knew someone planned on hurting him. The Le case, however, had very few ties to the Facebook posts written by Del Rocco.
    Now, to answer the real questions at hand after my introductory rant, I’ll begin with the principal point: in my opinion, anything posted on the Internet should be considered fair-game for any and everything. Disregarding the fact that a.) Del Rocco willing granted Bailey access to her Facebook profile and b.) Del Rocco allowed Bailey to remain a Facebook friend after discovering that she worked as a reporter, Bailey had the absolute right to use the information posted on Del Rocco’s Facebook page, as the definition of Facebook (as defined by TechTarget) is: “A popular free social networking website that allows registered users to create profiles…and keep in touch with friends, family and colleagues.” The main objective of Facebook is to give its users an online platform where they can connect with people all over the world. That being said, Del Rocco should have known before posting any sort of content that it would be subject to scrutinization by anyone, friends or non-friends. Not to mention the fact that various tools such as screen-shotting can document virtually anything, regardless of your level of privacy. In short: Bailey absolutely has the right to use anything found on Del Rocco’s Facebook page and has virtually no responsibility to Del Rocco, whatsoever.

  11. Bailey’s responsibilities when reporting on Del Rocco’s Facebook page are very straight forward. If Del Rocco wanted too, she could have looked at her profile before she accepted or googled Bailey’s name if she was suspicious and very careful of her information during such an intense situation that she was going through. It was very ethical of her to bring to Del Rocco’s knowledge that she was a reporter/journalist because there are many reporters who probably wouldn’t even think to do that.
    Bass should weigh the factor of the Independent’s ethical code and her own moral code. Reporting with someone’s name in such a high profile case such as this one can really change people’s lives and involvement in the case. They get attention from the audience following the case and sometimes are more involved than they should be.
    Using people’s social media posts and information they let their friends/followers see can be a slippery slope. “On the one hand, it was difficult to consider the postings private given that Del Rocco had some 350 Facebook friends.” I’m not sure how I feel about this, because on one hand they’re letting you see their info once you befriend them, but on the other I don’t think that information we post on our social media is thought about to be okay for someone to publicly use it in the press. I feel that the Independent did the most ethical thing by not publishing their Facebook information.

  12. 1. This story was fascinating and I enjoyed reading it. As far as Bailey’s responsibilities to Del Rocco and her Facebook page, she was in the right to identify herself as a reporter. From there, Del Rocco’s denial of an interview does not give enough reason for her Facebook posts to be barred from use. Like the article said, Del Rocco’s 350+ friends indicate she is likely not to know each of them personally. With that, Del Rocco could have removed Bailey as a friend after she identified herself as a reporter. And lastly, Del Rocco’s posts are made for her friends to see. By accepting Bailey’s friend request, Del Rocco is allowing her to see and use her Facebook posts. The posts are not encrypted, and they’re available for any “friend” to see.

    2. Bass, before determining whether to run Del Rocco’s posts, should determine their newsworthiness. While Del Rocco is an important factor in identifying who this suspect is- as he has a criminal record with women, Del Rocco’s personal opinions on the matter are not necessarily newsworthy. Do they further the story? Does this tell us more about the crime? As Bailey argues they “add newsworthy color and currency to the story about the police report,” there is still room for a question. Secondly is the fact that Del Rocco denied Bailey an interview. Although she kept Bailey as a friend on Facebook, her denial of an interview shows that she isn’t willing to speak to the press about the matter.

  13. I have a distrust of using digital mediums for sources. In the same way that email interviews are frowned upon by lacking contextual evidence, I think gathering information from private social media accounts also has dangers. I think social media provides a platform for the truth to be stretched. As far as Bailey’s responsibilities, I definitely think Bailey should have messaged Del Rocco and gotten permission before she added her on Facebook. I don’t think the information should have been run since Del Rocco denied an interview. At this point, I think Bailey should have pressed Del Rocco further for an interview, perhaps stating the information she saw on her profile and asking for a comment. I don’t think many factors would affect Bass’s obligation to run the post unless the person had the information actually public on social media. A journalist’s obligation is to tell the truth and to tell people’s story. Since there isn’t a guarantee that the post is accurate and not sugar coated by the standards of the medium, I don’t think these posts would be reliable sources.

  14. I think it is a blurry area because her Facebook page was private however the reason that bailey had access to it was because Del Rocco accepted and was informed later on that she was a reporter. If you know you have a reporter following you or anybody you do not personally know then you are allowing those people to view your information which could end badly if you are posting negative things. Social media can be a positive or negative depending how you use it. No matter what you put on the internet people can find and people should be aware.

    I think Bass should take into consideration how the information was accessed, how the information will effect the public and the person that it is about. Will the information found help make the world safer? There are a lot of factors when it comes to running stories in journalism especially when it comes to getting information. Some journalists will go too far to get information.

  15. 1. What are Bailey’s responsibilities to Del Rocco when reporting on her Facebook page?
    Bailey does not have a responsibility to Del Rocco. Del Rocco accepted Bailey’s friend request, and Bailey also told Del Rocco that she was a reporter. Del Rocco declined an interview, but did not remove Bailey as a friend. Del Rocco also had more than 350 friends on Facebook, and they all had access to the statuses she had written about Clark being named a suspect in the murder investigation. I think Bailey had every right to use what she saw on Del Rocco’s Facebook page. But just because she had the right to use it does not mean that she should have. I think that getting information on Facebook or Twitter or email is often taken out of context, and not always reliable. I agree with Jacquie on that point. I would have pressed harder for a phone or in-person interview with Del Rocco. I would have only used the Facebook information as a last resort.

  16. The factors Bass should weigh when determining whether to run Del Rocco’s posts are complicated and multi-layered. The fact is that Del Rocco most likely intends for her posts to be “private” in the sense that they are only meant to be read by the people she chooses. Another fact is that she “chose” Bailey to be able to see them, even after Bailey identified herself as a reporter. In theory, as Del Rocco’s friend, Bailey could “share” Del Rocco’s posts and thus provide the same information to her friends. Or even just “liking” Del Rocco’s post could have made that information public. A big question in this case study is the decision to keep Del Rocco’s identity a secret. But can you share information from a Facebook post without showing someone’s identity? Doesn’t that sort of go against the fundamental nature of Facebook? And like I just mentioned, who’s to say her other Facebook friends who have read the same posts wouldn’t reveal her identity? This question of using information from private posts came up the other day at Her Campus regarding a source who posted on a private Instagram account (which was followed by one of our reporters), and we debated whether or not we should report the information she posted without her consent. I ultimately made the decision that we shouldn’t post without her consent (which she eventually gave). This situation is different however, as in Del Rocco’s case her posts relate directly to an on going criminal investigation that is of major interest to the public and could shed light on the crime and the suspect, while our situation involved a student (whom we had reported on before and for which this would be a connected story) who’s news was not potentially vital information or of overwhelming interest to the community. In other words, the story for which Del Rocco’s posts could have contributed was already going on, while in our case the Instagram post was our only source of information and the story would have been based on the news provided there. In summary, I think that because Del Rocco’s posts had the potential to be physically shared elsewhere by any one of her friends (whether via Facebook or screenshotting and posting somewhere else), that there isn’t an issue with publishing them for a story. In writing this my opinion of the topic changed (I began by thinking it would not be okay for Bass to publish Del Rocco’s posts), and I think that is proof of how complex this question is.

  17. First of all, I found this case study very interesting. As a journalist, this is an important issue to look at, and clearly quite a conundrum. I chose to look at the factors Bass should weigh before determining whether to run Del Rocco’s posts. Firstly, it seemed most important to me that Del Rocco accepted Bailey’s friend request. One of the best (and also worst) things about the internet is the ease in which information can be found. Personally, I think that if something is posted on the internet, whomever posted it has to be prepared for the information to become public (this is a lesson I remember being told in middle school, as we were told not to post anything we wouldn’t want members of our family, or teachers to see, let alone a journalist/reporter). Also, the case study acknowledges that her posts couldn’t really be “considered private given that Del Rocco had some 350 Facebook friends.”

    Another important factor was that they were not using Del Rocco’s name in the article. She was kept anonymous, which I think is incredibly important. Finally, Bailey introduced herself as a reporter and asked Del Rocco if she was willing to do an interview. I think it is important that Del Rocco continued to stay friends with Bailey, knowing that she was a reporter.

    Overall, I think the most important factors were that Del Rocco accepted Bailey’s friend request (and stayed friends with her, even after knowing she was a reporter and was probably interested in her status’ that were giving insight into a news story) and that in the article, Del Rocco’s name wasn’t used.

    While there are important factors that make it seem like it is okay, I still am not sure if I think this is ethically appropriate. As Alfred Hermina said, content on social networks is both “private and public at the same time. It is private in the sense that it was intended for a specific audience of friends. But it is also publicly available online.”

    This is definitely an ethical struggle and I am not sure who I side with, but overall, I think there are a lot of factors that justify Bass running Del Rocco’s post.

    Finally, a point I thought that was interesting and wanted to highlight was how Bass “wanted to use new technology to revive an old kind of journalism.” I felt that it was almost a juxtaposition, that he wanted to use new technologies like Facebook to provide the “raw materials” he needed “for a rebuilt civic commons.”

  18. Responsibilities Bailey had was to not report any of her personal information Del Rocco published on Facebook. Since this sort of social media was created for a private setting, it becomes more personal when information is released. Yet, Del Rocco did accept Bailey’s friend request knowing her information would become public. Bailey did “identify herself as a reporter and asked if she was willing to be interviewed” and Del Rocco kept her as a “friend”. I believe since Del Rocco kept Baily as a friend, she had some trust in her. With Bailey still Del Rocco’s friend, Bailey had access “that Del Rocco put up behind a privacy wall accessible only to designated individuals—her ‘friends.’”. I also feel as if Bailey was not being ethical by receiving this information in an unprofessional way. It may seem like stalker actions, but it was one of the few ways to receive information. Yet on the other hand, I believe Bailey does not have responsibilities that is owed to Del Rocco. Del Rocco knew Bailey would have this information and the rest of her friends “even if they were private, hadn’t Del Rocco granted Bailey access to them by not removing her as a friend once she’d learned she was a reporter?” It is noticeable that this case was made many years ago, because many people’s Facebook posts now are used in cases because of how public they are. They did make a good point that the public information on Facebook is that same as getting information from a news article. I do see where Bailey does responsibility keep personal information closed, but at the same time, she does have the right to make that information public since it is public on Del Rocco’s Facebook.

  19. While Del Rocco did publish her Facebook posts for her “friends” to see, I think the major factor Bailey needs to consider is whether or not this is invading her privacy. I see the Facebook posts almost like something Del Rocco would tell Bailey, knowing she was a reporter “off the record.” It would be incredibly inappropriate for Bailey to write something Del Rocco said “off the record,” even if she knew she was a journalist and said it to her face. While the case notes that Del Rocco knew Bailey was a journalist, this would have made no difference in the “off the record” comparison and I believe the same remains true here. I think Bailey really needed to weigh how much this tidbit of information taken from Del Rocco’s facebook page would advance her story, and what the pay off would be for breaching her privacy. In my opinion, it is clear that Clark was a terrible boyfriend as evidenced in the police report. One can infer that his ex-girlfriend would be upset upon hearing the news of Annie Le. Therefore, there was really nothing on the Facebook wall that is advancing the story in my opinion. While I do believe Bailey technically had the “right” to use the information, I would never share the Facebook posts.

  20. Being a journalist or reporter comes with a lot of responsibilities. What makes it hard is that a lot of those alleged responsibilities aren’t so apparent, especially with new technology and social media platforms. Melissa Bailey, being a reporter at the New Haven Independent, had the responsibility to report honestly and accurately on the murder of a female Yale student, Annie Le. Bailey and the creator of the Independent, Paul Bass, struggled deciding what was ethical to report and what was not. Since their publication was local and considered a “grass root” publication by Bass, they didn’t look at the story as being apart of Yale but about the fact that a woman was murdered and it might have been on campus. In the case study, Bailey and Bass even state that they believed that this story was a Yale story and not a New Haven one, but that was before the missing person case became a murder case. Bailey had the responsibility to her publication to seek out as much information about the lives of the victim, the suspect and people who may have been close to either of them. Bailey did this to create a better more capturing story rather than just reporting facts that were being stated by police. When it came to Bailey friending Jessica Del Rocco, the suspects girlfriend, on Facebook, there was a 50/50 chance of Del Rocco even responding. But when Del Rocco accepted Bailey’s friend request she opened her entire profile up to the public eye, in the sense that she accepted anyone’s request because she obviously did not personally know Bailey. Bailey did have the responsibility to identifying herself as a journalist to Del Rocco before reporting anything that she could now visually see on her Facebook, and Bailey did just that. Although Del Rocco declined to be interviewed, she still allowed Bailey to view her personal Facebook page. It was Bailey’s responsibility as a journalist to identify herself and after identifying herself, anything that is done or said to her after the fact, I believe, can be printed. Bailey and Bass even discussed publishing some of Del Rocco’s Facebook statuses, but leaving her name out and making sure it wasn’t easily identifiable. Bailey has a responsibility to report the news, truthfully and accurately, and I believe she went through every step to make sure their reporting would be ethical. Bailey followed her journalistic responsibilities, therefore because Bailey identified herself as a reporter to Del Rocco and she still did not remove her as a friend on Facebook, Bailey has the right to publish Del Rocco’s Facebook posts about the murder because she knew a reporter could now view her page. If Del Rocco was so concerned about someone getting a hold of her Facebook posts, she should have never posted them in the first place. And even with that said, Bailey would continue to conceal Del Rocco’s identity.

  21. Bailey’s responsibilities to Jessica Del Rocco when reporting on her Facebook page is first and foremost identifying herself as a reporter. This should be done even before the friend request is sent. Bailey knew that. In the case study she says, “If I did the whole thing over again, I would identify myself as a reporter when I friended her.” Not after her friend request was accepted.
    Although Del Rocco’s posts were public for all Facebook friends, they seemed to have been posted with a certain sense that it was personal sentiment intended for her circle. In fact she declined an interview with Bailey. For this reason, Bailey should be cognizant of the intrusion aspect of Del Rocco’s privacy. Does Del Rocco expect her personal posts to go nationwide? I’m leaning towards, “no.”
    If Bass is still considering running Del Rocco’s posts he must be aware of several factors. First, it’s a journalist’s duty to “minimize harm to tangential sources and subjects.” Bass must consider whether running the posts would have any negative impact on Del Rocco.
    Next, he must consider the news value of the story. Is it enough to outweigh any potential harm to the subjects? If so, Bass needs to justify why.
    He also needs to think about Bailey’s gaffe in forgetting to identify herself as a reporter before sending the friend request. Is this belated identification in and of itself, unethical?

  22. I found this case to be interesting both from the perspective of a journalist and someone who has grow up in the age of social media. I don’t believe that Bailey did anything wrong by sending a friend request to Del Rocco. Del Rocco accepted the request on her on accord, knowing full well that she did not know the woman personally and that she would have access to information that she posted online. I really don’t believe that Bailey did anything wrong by not identifying herself as a reporter before friending Del Rocco on Facebook, especially because she did so immediately after her request was accepted. It would be an entirely different story if Bailey had used information found on Del Rocco’s Facebook without giving her the opportunity to share her side with Bailey now knowing that she was a reporter. Similarly to how students are taught to be careful about what they share on social media, Del Rocco was a user of the social network and had an understanding of how many people could view her status updates and posts. Even if Bailey had not added her as a friend, there were still hundreds if not thousands of other friends who could have gone to the press with information found on her Facebook.
    That being said, this is a girl who has just found out that her ex-boyfriend had likely committed a murder. Del Rocco is obviously upset and sharing these feelings about Annie Le’s murder on her Facebook friends. I believe that though Bailey was ethical in gaining access to her Facebook, it would not be the right thing to do to run the posts. Perhaps if the Facebook posts had been self-incriminating or of some other nature, but they showed a girl who was confused and upset. Del Rocco herself had clearly been a victim of some form of relationship abuse, and I don’t believe that publishing her reaction to this news would be the right thing to do journalistically. I think that Bailey handled it well by giving Del Rocco the chance to be interviewed, and when she declined I feel that sent the message that she wished to remain out of the news cycle.

  23. 1. What are Bailey’s responsibilities to Del Rocco when reporting on her Facebook page?
    Well if Bailey already asked Del Rocco for an interview and she declined but kept her as a friend, I don’t understand why she couldn’t just ask Del Rocco if she could use some of her content for her story as long as she would shield her identity. I mean what’s the harm in asking? It would be worse to just publish the content. Its Baileys responsibility to be careful in what she says-she should protect Del Rocco. And she owes it to her as a citizen of the community.

    2. What factors should Bass weigh to determine whether to run Del Rocco’s posts? He should think about what it could mean for Del Rocco’s safety. Maybe Clark would get so upset and come after her, if not in jail already. He could tinker with her reputation even without trying. He should weigh ethical factors, does he have permission exactly to post HER content? What if Del Rocco sues? Then what? But then again the Times and the Guardian said content online is available for everyone to see-unless you utitlize your privacy feature. And Del Rocco was opening a door when she friended Bailey.

  24. This case is so interestingly fascinating, because it is such an ethical debate that it puts everyone’s perspective in a gray area. As an aspiring journalist, I do not see Bailey’s findings and use of those as a crime. If there was any responsibility that Bailey had, I believe it was informing Del Rocco who she was and what she was reporting on. However, these should have been done in the opposite order. If anything, I think Del Rocco had more responsibilities in this situation. If she did not want anyone to know her thoughts, she should have never posted anything about the case. Or, if she really wanted for her posts to not be considered public information, she should have encrypted them – and as the text states, she did not. People often forget that whatever goes on the Internet, stays in the Internet. Because, Del Rocco’s posts were for her friends to see and Bailey was now one of her friends – I think it is Bailey’s decision to use Del Rocco’s posts as evidence.
    With the growth of social media, I see understand why this because such a national dilemma. It wasn’t just a complicated situation for Del Rocco, but also for Bass. Bass should take into consideration the audience that reads the Independent – what do they want and what do they expect. I think the bigger question Bass should ask is not whether to run Del Rocco’s posts, rather he should wonder if should release Del Rocco’s name or not. Also, Bass needs to consider how important are Del Rocco’s posts to the main story – which was the murder of Annie Lee.

  25. By declining to an interview, Del Rocco essentially told Bailey she did not want the reporter using her name or testimony as a contribution to the Independent’s articles. Even though Del Rocco kept Bailey as a friend, that doesn’t give her the unequivocal right to use such personal information in order to get a scoop and consequential publicity. In such situations, it’s important for journalists to put themselves in the position of the source: how would he/she feel if another reporter quoted him/her in an article of sensitive nature? Sure, if they’re following The New York Times’ advice and abstaining from posting potentially controversial or professionally compromising details they wouldn’t have to worry about it, but that doesn’t make the act any less invasive.

    Over the summer I had a close friend from high school pass away in a violent incident and a local reporter reached out to me via Facebook messages asking for a comment, which I ignored in the middle of figuring out what happened and how to process it. She could have easily taken words from my posts or the published obituary I wrote regardless, but chose not to cross that ethically gray line (at least to my knowledge), which I applaud.

    While there is an argument for “nothing online is private,” let alone when that ‘private’ material is shared with an audience – however initially small – it’s easy to see that Bailey is not the average intended reader of Del Rocco’s posts. Especially when Bailey confesses “If I did the whole thing over again, I would identify myself as a reporter when I friended her.”

  26. 2.
    While it is clear that Del Rocco accepted Bailey’s friend request, there are still many factors to consider regarding this issue. I think Bailey should consider the state that Del Rocco was in when accepting the friend request. Maybe she didn’t pay that much attention?
    Or maybe she didn’t think Bailey would be allowed to use her info. Or, she may not have been thinking about it all. I think you need to look At Del Rocco accepting the friend request to Bailey not as permission to use the information. She may not have realized what she was doing.

    Also, I think Bailey needs to put herself in Del Rocco’s shoes. If this has happened to her, would she want all the information released? Would she want the world to know things that were only intended for her close family and friends to hear? Would she feel violated if this info was published?

    Finally, I would consider the rules the Independent has in place for this type of situation. They policy allows for exceptions, but is this one?

  27. Bass should consider how posting this will effect Del Rocco’s personal life, especially when she made it clear that she didn’t want to be involved with the story. He should also question if the information would have become available without Bailey requesting a friendship online. She wouldn’t have seen these post and it wouldn’t have been considered.

    The news site did such a great job staying true to who they were as a publication in resisting using Raymond Clark’s name, that It would be sad if they went against someone to further their national recognition. Jessica obviously has very strong feelings about what happened to her in the past and bringing those skeletons from her closet could be very harmful and upsetting to her in the public eye.

    In closing, the main story is that a student has died. Although the suspects past is important, does releasing this story with her name add much value? These types of stories have to be handled carefully and I think that her name/story is not worth it.

  28. Bass realized that just because something is available online doesn’t make it useable in news articles when he posted a Facebook status on Voinov who predicted his death. He says he was accidentally ethical because it turns out Voinov was dead and couldn’t consent to the information. Bass uses this case as precedent but it was not similar enough to use it as such. What he needed to consider was the fact that Del Rocco was still alive and able to give her consent. When he declined Baileys inquiry on weather or not she could interview her Bass should have seen that as non-consent. The issue however lies in the fact that when you post something on social media is becomes public. Nothing is truly private on social media. Users of Facebook are informed on who can see their posts and when Bailey revealed herself as a reported Del Rocco was willingly giving her access to all the information she posts. She had no encryption and left her posts completely public. Del Rocco knows she is a reporter looking for information yet kept her as a friend and kept her posts visible to all her friends. I think in this case I would say Del Rocco’s posts are ethically useable because Bailey identified herself.
    Bass did have a responsibility to try and minimize harm to his sources and subjects. He even commented on how the first suspect’s life was ruined because the police disclosed his name. Although Del Rocco was not being accused of anything putting her in the public eye could ruin her reputation. She may not want to disclose to the world that she was abused but may have been forced to once the information came out. I think Bass had more of responsibility to his community due to his whole ethical stance and the fact that he runs a local publication. Despite this I think the fact that she had her post public to her 350 friends on Facebook and that she readily added someone she didn’t know she was not trying to hide the personal information she provided. In this way Del Rocco was allowing her personal information to be spread if not by the news but by her friends in general. Word would have gotten out even without the article.

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