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Daily Freeman Life Editor Ivan Lajara talks about journalism, living in the Hudson Valley, language, the Web, cats and even politics. But he shouldn't.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

When to offend

A reader was rightly offended by the post below.

“... Your comments are beyond inappropriate.”

I apologized to “k” in the comments section and quickly remembered one day in journalism school:

“You better make sure it’s worth it.”

“It” was the act of offending people with stories. The conversation -- with journalism ethics master Howard Good at SUNY New Paltz -- hovered around when to offend with photos and words, if at all, because truth can offend.

(Note that in the news side there is nothing writers and editors can do about offending people with a story if, say, the story is about a heinous crime. Although we know that you may not like some things in some stories, they do happen and we have a duty to tell you about it).

But in Life, the topics are a bit lighter in nature (but no less important, I like to say), and there always has to be a greater good that outweighs the risk of offending people (like your right and need to know). You can't just offend for the sake of offending.

And in the blogosphere, well, I’m still trying to find out what I’m doing.

So yes, in the case of the post below, there was no greater good (There is value now, ironically, so the post has to stay). And it might have actually taken away from the story I was referring to -— as I imagine happened with “k” — so I have to also apologize to Blaise Schweizter, who wrote the piece, the people in the story itself and to you all.

And I have to thank "k" for bringing this up.

The post was sophomoric and rated R.

And the Freeman is a family newspaper.

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