Indianapolis Star Editor Dennis Ryerson walks us through a journalism ethical dilemma. The family of a missing woman calls a news conference to reveal the identify of a man who was seen with the woman on the day she disappeared and also the identity of another person believed to have introduced the man to the woman. The police have shown no interest in this man as a possible suspect. Ryerson:
Our dilemma was whether to publish the names.We consider several questions whenever such situations arise: What is the public and journalistic interest? Who are the stakeholders? What are our options? Who would be harmed and how? How can we minimize harm?Three of my colleagues said we should not use the names. They pointed out that police had interviewed the two individuals and did not talk about them as people involved with Dattilo's fate.Our publishing the names, even pointing out that they weren't suspects, would cast a cloud over these people and their families, the argument went. With so little indication from police that these people were involved, any potential good in releasing the names was outweighed by the potential harm.Two others took another view. A couple of news outlets already had released the name of the man, they argued. Any potential harm already had been done. We'd look silly were we to hold back.