Daily Beast Brings Up Question: Is Someone’s Sex Life News?
The Rio Olympics has already caused a headache for journalists and media outlets. Whether it’s from people getting their equipment stolen or if it’s the bloviating amounts of content that is coming out while the public awaits Michael Phelps getting is 80th gold medal in a ceremony.
Well, people on social media and other news outlets smacked down the Daily Beast. The Beast had to issue a public apology and take down a story regarding the Olympics and their athletes—and their famed sexual appetites. The idea probably sparked from how raunchy the Sochi Olympics apparently were back in 2014.
Nico Hines, a reporter for the Beast, decided to sign up for four dating apps and go through the Olympic village. One of those apps happened to be the popular Grindr, an app tailored for gay men to meet with one another. Hines got his responses from many different athletes.
Hines is not gay, and some have said it was baiting for a story—which is another issue with the story. It’s the final product, which has The Beast in an embarrassing spot no organization wants to be at. The gist of the story revolved around whether or not Hines could get dates using the dating apps, including Grindr. Afterwards, Hines wrote the piece which had enough details that could piece together where these athletes are from such as what sport they are competing in and what country they are from.
Hines may have not used specific names or pictures but he gave enough detailed information that it essentially outed gay Olympians. For some people coming out is a sensitive subject, especially for public figures and athletes. So it’s not something a journalist should take upon himself to do in an article.
Also, Hine’s justification for how he went about his reporting was bad. It was a clear violation of the journalism code of ethics, which states: “Avoid undercover or surreptitious methods of gathering information unless traditional, open methods will not yield information vital to the public.”
“For the record, I didn’t lie to anyone or pretend to be someone I wasn’t—unless you count being on Grindr in the first place—since I’m straight, with a wife and child. I used my own picture (just of my face…) and confessed to being a journalist as soon as anyone asked who I was,” Hines wrote.
Another ethical issue arose when he disregarded the journalistic ethics of minimizing harm that has whole paragraphs on as pointed out by Mic.com. A journalist’s reporting should minimalize harm being done and this piece was very harmful. The reason why this is dangerous is there are some Olympic athletes who could be punished by death in their countries for being gay or partaking in homosexual activities.
“Several Central Asian countries continue to criminalize same-sex sexual activity, while others have directly imitated Russia’s ‘anti-propaganda’ laws that have the effect of criminalizing LGBT advocacy,” Government Affairs Director David Stacy said after the Human Rights Campaign gave testimony on Capital Hill back in June.
Win a gold medal for your country only to be killed for who you are interested in dating because a journalist wanted to write a fluff piece on the Olympic village’s libido.
It’s a hell of a way to go through life.
Obviously, this was a bad move for Hines and for the editorial staff at the Daily Beast, which does do quality work. Standing by the story at first was a bad move followed up with the proper course of action.
“We were wrong. We’re sorry. And we apologize to the athletes who may have been inadvertently compromised by our story,” The Daily Beast said in a statement. “Today we did not uphold a deep set of The Daily Beast’s values. These values—which include standing up to bullies and bigots, and specifically being a proudly, steadfastly supportive voice for LGBT people all over the world—are core to our commitment to journalism and to our commitment to serving our readers.”
— Gus Kenworthy (@guskenworthy) August 11, 2016
What the damage is remains to be seen but at least the piece is down. This situation with The Daily Beast brings up a more important issue for journalists.
Is someone’s sex life considered news? Better yet, how does it benefit the public?
While the tabloids may enjoy knowing whom the local celebrity is seen with walking out of the swanky restaurant or who is dating whom in the social circles, how did this piece help with the Olympic coverage? It came off as mean spirited, inappropriate and possibly harmful to those athletes who were outed. The Beast tried to clarify initially why it was written but obviously it shouldn’t have even been considered as a pertinent news story or at least if The Beast considers it news, don’t start listing what the athlete does or where they are from—people are smart.
a hetero journalist “reported” on going on grindr at the rio olympics. this is so deeply unethical. pic.twitter.com/X7pbxNlvoh
— E. Alex Jung (@e_alexjung) August 11, 2016
It was bad and not well thought out. It happens in a lot of stories, especially in the digital age of trying to be creative and unique.
But again, the question remains why would someone’s sex life be important for a story? It really shouldn’t and one would think to stay away from publishing about someone’s sex life for a lot of reasons. The first with it being an LGBT story and those consequences mentioned above are important. These athletes don’t deserve to be outed by a journalist. It’s a personal and private matter as said before.
The second reason is did everybody forget about Gawker?
Gawker is now being auctioned off after they lost their lawsuit involving Hulk Hogan. Yet again, another story where someone’s sex life was considered news. Gawker’s argument is a sound one, Hogan is a public figure but maybe it’s time to incorporate a bit of prudence with the reporting and journalism going on here.
While the Olympians’ sex life may be interesting to some people as a story there could have been steps taken to ensure the piece wasn’t a bad gaffe. Doing a story on Olympic dating wasn’t the problem–it was how it was presented that made it bad and dangerous.
The same could be said for the Hulk Hogan story. Did Gawker really need to put up a video of what a man is doing in a bedroom? Of course there is more going in that story but the point still stands, journalists are better off not pursuing someone’s personal sex life unless there is some sort of scandal and even then it should probably be handled appropriately and not fast and loose.
No one knows what happened in the editorial meeting or how this got pushed through except those at The Beast but we can all learn from their mistake and show a little more prudence when it comes to someone’s sex life.
This probably won’t be the last time something like this happens either as journalists find new and exciting ways to get the news out in the digital age but integrity and prudence could go a long way.
information obtained at Yahoo Sports, Mic.com