1.Define “privacy.” To what extent do public officials have a right to privacy?
Privacy is the state or condition of being free from being observed or disturbed by other people. Public officials should have a right to privacy just like everyone else. Yes, they are in the public eye more than a regular person, but that doesn’t mean that their privacy should be completely lost.
2.What is the role of the news media in a democratic society?
Media plays a huge role in the news by shaping democracy. Media informs the people with inormation and keeps them up to date on current events. Politics uses the media in both positive and negative ways. In this case, to put this Mayor’s life out there and completely destroy his privacy.
3.When referring to the allegation that Mayor Jim West was pursuing underage boys online, why do you think editor Steven Smith differentiated between a legitimate news story and one that is not legitimate when he said, “If he’s [Mayor Jim West] engaged in this activity … we need to know that. If he’s not — there’s no story” ?
They needed to prove that he was engaging in underage activity because if he was, then that is a legitimate news story because it’s illegal. If the subject was 18, it is legal, but the act itself frowned upon in the community. The Mayor’s private life is not a story alone, although it is interesting.
4.How did reporter Bill Morlin justify the use of a concealed identity on Gay.com as part of The Spokesman-Review‘s and the FBI’s “sting operation”? Why didn’t Morlin himself create the assumed identity to engage Mayor West online?
Bill Morlin needed to create the fake identity to trap the Mayor and have evidence. That is how he justified it. Morlin couldn’t make the identity himself because the Mayor wouldn’t have fallen for it. It needed to be believable to get information out of the Mayor and have him fall for the bait.
5.Under what circumstances, and by whom, is it appropriate to conduct a “sting operation”? (Consider different scenarios such as the media, the government or a private citizen with a suspicion about another private citizen.)
It is not appropriate for reporters to create this fake account to trap the Mayor. That is a police or detective’s job. It is an interesting story, but to intrude the Mayor’s private life should not be conducted by the media in their “sting operation.”
6.Why do you think The Spokesman-Review ultimately published so many articles on Mayor West’s alleged improprieties?
The Spokesman-Review published so many articles on the Mayor’s improprieties simply because it destroyed his life. By putting his private life on the front pages of newspapers would destroy him and everything that he stood for. It was interesting, and they knew that the public would be interested and therefore read it.
7.Is Mayor West a sympathetic character? Why or why not?
Yes, Mayor West is a sympathetic character because he is not the awful person that the newspaper made him out to be. He didn’t break any laws by chatting with these people online because they were over 18. It was shocking the the public that he was having intimate chats with men online, but he was finally expressing his sexuality. That belongs in his personal life and the public does not need to know.
8.Explain the title “A Hidden Life” from the perspective of:
#The Spokesman-Review: The Mayor’s private life was a great story to be published. The public would be surprised and want to read about his “hidden life.”
#Mayor West: His “hidden life” should have been private. To him, the public didn’t need to know and it was his own business.
#the citizens of Spokane, Wash.: This was huge news to the citizens of Spokane and they were disgusted by the Mayor’s “hidden life.”
9.In the final analysis, who benefited from The Spokesman-Review’s decision to expose Mayor West and his alleged improprieties? Who was hurt? Do you think the outcome was worth it? Explain your reasoning.
The newspaper itself benefited by exposing Mayor West. It was a scandal that everyone wanted to read about so their readership went up. The Mayor himself was the one who was hurt from this. His life was completely destroyed because the town voted him out of office, even though he wanted to continue to do what he loved. I don’t think the outcome was worth it because this man’s life was completely destroyed. He was already diagnosed with terminal cancer so he was enjoying his last days by being himself. Mayor West’s life ended sadly with the public eye looking at him like a pedophile.