On Tuesday, Jeff Sonderman posted an article to Poynter focusing on whether news outlets should publish information acquired through so-called “creeping” on Facebook and Twitter.
The latest case occurred when an Oshawa teen was struck and killed by a moving train on February 13. The next day, durhamregion.com, Durham’s community news site, published an article about the incident, which said in part, “Durham Regional Police are not releasing the boy’s name upon the parents’ request, but his friends and peers have turned to social media to share their condolences, identifying him in their messages as Jacob Hicks.”
A debate ensued. One commenter wrote: “I am in shock that you, (the media) did not respect the wishes of the family to keep a name private….. However, I am totally flabbergasted at your absolute disregard for privacy when you have published the photos you have chosen. My deepest condolences to the friends and family of this boy… my deeper sympathies for having it splashed all over the internet.” Another reader said, “I feel badly for the family. But I am scared of the muzzling of a free press pushed by so many. Unidentifed 16 year old killed by train means nothing. Telling his name, the words of the good samaritan nurse on the dying boy, the mp3 player, what his friends said, how the school body felt, the fact Jacob played bass in band…this tells a touching, tragic story..for this OTW [Oshawa This Week] deserves praise not scorn.”