Saturday, August 11, 2012
Recently a blogger has raised questions about how and why a photo that she publicly distributed on the Internet accompanied a recent story about the Rev. Bob Carlson, a minister who killed himself after learning he was being investigated on child sexual abuse allegations.
Lost among these comments is the media's obligation to inform the public on matters of vital public interest.
At issue is whether a former university president took the necessary steps to safeguard his campus from a chaplain whom the state police alleges sexually assaulted one child and possibly several.
The photo in question is proof that the chaplain continued to take part in university activities long after the college president -- now a state official -- says he informed the man that his presence on campus was no longer welcomed.
We learned of the photo from a source who emailed us a link to the public Flickr page containing pictures of Rev. Carlson at Husson University events. Our reporter attempted to track down the owner of the Flickr account to talk to her about our interest in publishing the photo, but was unable to locate her before deadline. However, we neglected to click the message button on Flickr, which presumably would have sent an email to the account holder. Unable to speak with the person who took the photo, we decided to publish it without a credit for several reasons:
The photo was viewable by the public with no privacy settings.
The image was central to a story of great public interest.
Naming the photographer without her permission would have pulled her into a controversy unnecessarily.
We have since reached out to the photographer. Unfortunately, she has refused to speak with us because she does not have "recording" capabilities.