Journalists generally agree that it’s appropriate to use ill-gotten information in the public interest, whether it’s the Pentagon Papers or a massive email hack.
But good intentions and execution are two different things. The latter involves a solid process rooted in journalistic values — because public interest is a moving target. Some newsrooms claim public interest when information is merely interesting, funny or salacious. The article about Channing Tatum’s goofy email might fall into that category.
BuzzFeed’s look at Maureen Dowd’s practice of allowing prior review, which Dowd denied, could be in the public interest because Dowd is a powerful columnist at a powerful newspaper that influences public opinion. If she shows special favor to certain people, it would be in the public interest to know that. Read more