sensationalist trash is sensationalist trash… you know where this is going… we both do…
On today’s episode of Media Ethics… we have Gizmodo… Who just ran an article about Ken Bone’s comments on various sensationalist topics (porn, Trayvon Martin, and other).
You’ll know Ken Bone from the most recent Town Hall style Presidential Debate… he is now the meme-tastic man in a red sweater that the internet will not shut-up about. I suppose you could say he’s the ‘joe the plumber‘ of our modern world.
What you didn’t know about Ken Bone, and should not care about, is his various sex related comments in sex related forums. Ken Bone made those comments apparently under a pseudonym… I’m sure assuming he would maintain a modicum of privacy… just like pretty much everybody else on the planet. I’m writing under a pseudonym right now in fact. It’s nice…
Well anyways… thanks to Gizmodo that small modicum of privacy is gone.
Ken Bone you see… just like you… just like me… has a sexual side to him. Most everybody does. Now there’s nothing wrong with that. There is nothing wrong with enjoying erotica, there is nothing wrong with talking about erotic, and there is nothing wrong with discussing sexuality.
There also isn’t anything surprising about Ken Bone feeling that Trayvon Martin’s shooting was justified. A lot of humans have a lot of opinions… most are arguably wrong to have but that’s the point isn’t it.
Frankly, nothing about Ken Bone’s comments are surprising or interesting. They are your basic, run of the mill, internet comments.
But you know what is surprising?
That Gizmodo would run a pointless, obviously sensational, article about Ken Bone’s porn comments. That they thought to themselves ‘yes i should screencap his comments and yes i should write a listless paragraph about them and splash it around the internet‘.
Why was that a good idea?
Because Ken Bone is a trending internet topic and there is nothing else to life than maximizing clicks? That’s the only reason I can come up with.
So the question is… is it ethical to discuss a non-public figure’s (being a flash in the pan internet sensation does not make you a public figure) run of the mill internet comments on media websites? Is it ethical to simply push out sensationalist articles that have no actual news content?
You and I both know the answer is no.
To you and me this is a mildly interesting fly on the wall article. We’re done with it in five seconds flat. We move on with our lives without thinking twice about the implications of the article for other people. That’s the real rub here.
Gizmodo’s article may very well ruin Ken Bone’s life.
Did they think about that?
I doubt it.
I doubt it matters. To them, Ken Bone is a public figure because ‘oh my look he’s all over websites and the twitter! Quick we must monetize this!‘ It’s very easy to justify your own writing you know. It’s certainly easy for me to justify mine.
And you know what… This is exactly the kind of trash article that made Peter Thiel think it was a great idea to sue Gawker’s butt off, this is the same kind of article that makes people hate the writers of the world, this is exactly why there are Trump supporters out there who are so disillusioned by the media that they will simultaneously believe everything and nothing.
Trust is the lifeblood of media. Ethics is what builds that trust. Gizmodo has certainly lost any trust I had for them. I hope you think twice before placing your trust in them as well.
Media Ethics Score: 3/10 (Ethics equivalent to a weasel).
Update (10/14/2016) – Ken Bone on Responsibility
— Adam Conover (@adamconover) October 14, 2016
A human response from Ken Bone… let’s all hope that his words won’t be lost on people…