Sunday, May 07, 2006

DID DATELINE CROSS THE LINE?

In her cover story on Sunday (http://news.bostonherald.com/localRegional/view.bg?articleid=138243&format=text), Boston Herald writer Jessica Heslam explores whether NBC's Dateline crossed the line in helping to catch online pedophiles.

In her article, Heslam quotes me as saying:

If it weren’t compelling television, “Dateline” wouldn’t run the series, said Emerson College professor Jeff Seglin, who writes the New York Times Syndicate’s column “The Right Thing.”

“ ‘Dateline has an issue of crossing the line from being a watchdog to being a participant because they’re actively involved in helping to find these people,” he said.

What do you think? Did Dateline go too far in getting involved in this effort to catch online pedophiles? You can post your comments below by clicking on COMMENTS or email them to me at rightthing@nytimes.com.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

It is fair to set up a system to collar sexual predators, as it is legal and just to do the same for drug dealers. The question about Dateline being involved is a non-question since the popular show COPS plowed this territory years ago. Dateline provides documentation just like any news source. As for the pro-activity of the Oregon based group entrapping an unwilling person to do something against their will holds as much water as a colander while rinsing pasta. People that take the first step to “troll” the Internet are not doing it to obtain insight into the teenage pregnancy explosion; they do so because they are genetically deranged from the norm. Their behavior and actions expose their condition in front of the Police, Dateline and the Oregon based group. The alternative is to wait and hope we can catch them after their perverted actions have damaged a child.

Anonymous said...

The police are posing as teenage girls to catch pedophiles. One of these days you'd think the pedophiles would realize they shouldn't be doing it. Altho, Dateline maybe be out of line, they are better at getting more attention to a bigger audience. Don't we all wish it would stop. Computers are wonderful for so many things but endangering someone else isn't in the wonderful category. "P"

Anonymous said...

When questioning the tactics of NBC's newsmagazine Dateline in exposing pedophiles, was it sensationalism or good reporting? First of all I would argue that there is a false perception, or stereotype, when it comes to pedophiles. There is no specific look, or character, that fits a pedophile, and that portrayal is dangerous. The rumor that floats through a neighborhood in anywhere USA is that so and so is a homosexual, a lesbian, or that so and so is a pedophile can destroy lives. What do these individuals look like and who started the rumor, and what was their motive? Then we must examine if the rumor is true, and can it be substantiated, I have had neighbors over the years who know more about their neighbors, than these individuals knew about themselves.

What do pedophiles look like, like the general population, and here in Utah, it is usually a member of the dominant faith, because the children trust them. For nonmembers like myself, a Catholic, for the most part, the neighbors will not even talk with you, or have any thing to do with you. The FBI used to have the Carnivore program to entrap and arrest individuals nationwide, trying to entice children over the internet, and the police in Utah also aggressively pursue these individuals. Was the program sensationalistic, no; if anything it made people more aware that these individuals can be anybody, a neighbor, a priest, a bishop, and that beautiful blond female teacher at the local school.The local library uses products from Innovative Interfaces to track where patrons are (their web site) when using the libraries computers, and I have personally seen a couple of patrons hauled away by the police. Lastly, with international treaties, these individuals, can no longer fly to foreign destinations to commit their sinister acts.

Todd M. Brklacich

Chris B. said...

Pedophiles, a menance to society. I have watched the shows where they capture the pervs, and come away feeling sad and angry. Sad, that they look like fools, and angry that these guys believe that this meeting is real. If anything, they should be charged for being " stupid." In Columbus, a pickup truck driven by two suspious characters have been confronting children. News outlets are warning us to be on the look-out for Stranger, Danger. When I was a child--about 50 years ago--I never had to worry about these things.

Anonymous said...

Since Jeffrey is always lecturing everyone else on ethics, I must insist that it is extremely unethical of him to work for the New York Times, a left-wing rag headed by a very unethical person, Arthur Sulzberger.

...twice arrested in (Vietnam) antiwar protests, his exasperated father, then Times publisher, Arthur Sr., asked him a simple question: "If a young American soldier comes upon a young North Vietnamese soldier, which one do you want to see get shot?"
Pinch didn't even hesitate. It was, he said, "the dumbest question I ever heard in my life," adding: "I would want to see the American get shot. It's the other guy's country."

Well, not exactly. The North Vietnamese Army invaded the south to impose its wicked communist agenda there. "Boat People" became a new term after the withdrawal of American forces, as a million fled the fascist evil that Arthur Sulzberger so ardently defended, along with Jane Fonda.

Anonymous said...

First of all, who's to say all these men are predators? It's not like they were hanging out on a playground trying to pull 5 year olds into a van with tinted windows. Granted, they shouldn't be trying to pick up teens online, but I think most high-school-aged students know better than to meet up with older men online. Secondly, yes it was unethical on Dateline's part because news organizations shouldn't be in the business of making news happen. Dateline hired this vigilante group and worked with local law enforcement to have these men arrested for further dramatic effect. This is nothing but old-fashioned sensationalism and all Dateline is doing is helping to create a modern-day lynch mob. Let's stay focused on the real perverts who fondle little kids and are usually relatives or acquaintences of the victims.

Wendy Hagmaier said...

I was unable to read the link to the Boston Herald, but I understood the gist.

This sounds like a matter of journalistic ethics. If Dateline is advertised as an entertainment show they are welcome to lay traps, arrange for arrests and broadcast the results. If that is the case they would NOT be entitled to hide behind journalist shield laws should a court request their records in this or any other matter.

If however, they claim to be journalists, they should be reporting on the news, not creating it.

While it would seem beneficial to capture all the pedophiles, the fourth estate should be objective. They cannot meet this standard if they are party to the story.

Does taking a gift signify approval of a neighbor's project?

There's a lot of construction going on in L.L.'s neighborhood. Empty lots are being dug up for foundations of new homes. Existi...