The New York Times has a revealing article about the suburban New York newspaper, The Journal News, and its decision a few weeks ago to publish a list of names and addresses as well as an interactive map of all of the people who hold handgun permits in Westchester and Rockland counties. The print and online edition of the article, “The Gun Owner Next Door: What You Don’t Know About the Weapons in Your Neighborhood,” became a nationwide sensation, and the Times’s summary of the story so far documents an amazing display of narcissism and projection:
Calls and e-mails grew so threatening that the paper’s president and publisher, Janet Hasson, hired armed guards to monitor the newspaper’s headquarters in White Plains and its bureau in West Nyack, N.Y.
Personal information about editors and writers at the paper has been posted online, including their home addresses and information about where their children attended school; some reporters have received notes saying they would be shot on the way to their cars; bloggers have encouraged people to steal credit card information of Journal News employees; and two packages containing white powder have been sent to the newsroom and a third to a reporter’s home (all were tested by the police and proved to be harmless).
“As journalists, we are prepared for criticism,” Ms. Hasson said, as she sat in her meticulously tended office and described the ways her 225 employees have been harassed since the article was published. “But in the U.S., journalists should not be threatened.” She has paid for staff members who do not feel safe in their homes to stay at hotels, offered guards to walk employees to their cars, encouraged employees to change their home telephone numbers and has been coordinating with the local police.
Was The Journal News right or wrong to publish this information in this fashion? Most unusually, I have had a hard time formulating an opinion on this. I can see the arguments from both sides: Continue Reading »