A Hidden Life Analysis

1. Define privacy. To what extent do public officials have a right to privacy?

Privacy can simply be defined as a right to be free from sharing information with the public, private lives remain a secret by choice. When someone becomes a public official thought they are making the conscious decision to sacrifice their private lives and they become their public lives.

2. What is the role of the news media in a democratic society?

The role of the news media is to publicize relevant information for the public to be informed with information that is believed to be true. Obviously, this is not always the case.

3. When referring to the allegation that Mayor Jim West was pursuing underage boys online, why do you think editor Steven Smith differentiated between a legitimate news story and one that is not legitimate when he said, “If he’s [Mayor Jim West] engaged in this activity . We need to know that. If he’s not – there’s no story” ?

The answer is obvious. Journalists are looking for true, hard-hitting, possibly controversial stories because that is what the readers are wanting. Journalists’ careers typically thrive off the stories the people want.

4.How did reporter Bill Morlin justify the use of a concealed identity on Gay.com as part of The Spokesman-Review’s and the FBI’s “sting operation”? Why didn’t Morlin himself create the assumed identity to engage Mayor West online?

Morlin justified his use of a concealed identity only because of Mayor West. He said it was a fantasy.  On Gay.com you can be whoever you want to be so he lied about his age. Also, Morlin decided not to make an assumed identity because he is not a cop, just a reporter so it wouldn’t make sense.

5.Under what circumstances, and by whom, is it appropriate to conduct a “sting operation”? (Consider different scenarios such as the media, the government or a private citizen with a suspicion about another private citizen.)

Personally, I think in any crime related situation the police should be involved. Obviously, not all cops have good motives. However the majority of police officials do their job and do it well. Prostitution, sex offenders, drug deals etc would all be valid situations for a “sting” operation.

6.Why do you think The Spokesman-Review ultimately published so many articles on Mayor West’s alleged improprieties?

The sexual life of a public official is always going to be a topic the people are interested in because of the mere fact that humans are nosy by nature. Whether or not it’s right to publish such articles is based on opinion. However, the articles that printed he had relations with younger children was probably a step too far.

7.Is Mayor West a sympathetic character? Why or why not?

I’m sure at the time people initially sympathized with him. Learning about it now however it does not have the same effect on me.

8.Explain the title “A Hidden Life” from the perspective of:
The Spokesman-Review
Mayor West
The citizens of Spokane, Wash.

A hidden life makes sense for the mayor because he was attempting to keep his life private. The citizens of Spokane did not have a private life despite the fact that was their inherent right. And a Hidden Life for the review simply means what he is trying to uncover.

9.In the final analysis, who benefited from The Spokesman-Review’s decision to expose Mayor West and his alleged improprieties? Who was hurt? Do you think the outcome was worth it? Explain your reasoning.

I do not think the outcome was worth it by any means. The community’s private life was exposed, the major was hurt. He was previously doing his job and doing it well, but with all the stress I bet you his career was effected greatly. The only people who were benefited were those at the newspaper. But, they did so by unethical standards so was it really a benefit?



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