By now, you have learned The Daily Beast published an article that outed several LGBT Olympic athletes. Those athletes did not give their permission, and by revealing details about them, The Daily Beast may very well have put some of those Olympians’ lives in danger. But it’s all okay when you’re in the business of click bait.
The writer of the piece, Nico Hines, a straight, married man, posed as a gay man on Grindr, in order to “hook up” with gay athletes. While Hines did not publish the names of the gay men he discovered on the dating app, he did reveal enough information to make it very easy to discover who they are. At least one of the athletes Hines outed is representing country where being LGBT is severely punished by the government.
If you Google Nico Hines today, every single link references the outrage surrounding his article. A headline at Queerty reads “Everyone’s Pissed At This Straight Journalist Who Used Grindr To Out Gay Athletes In Rio,” while Slate called Hines’ article a “stunt” that is “dangerous and unethical.”
What Nico Hines did is write a click bait article, entrapping closeted (often for their own safety) Olympic athletes, and revealing pretty much everything about them but their names. Hines lied about who he was on Grindr in order to get his story.
Self-professed liberal websites do this all the time. Occupy Democrats lies so often for money, they have their own file at PolitiFact. Truth doesn’t sell; scandal, lies, deceit, and innuendo do.
The Daily Beast edited Hines’ article, removing anything someone could use to discover the identity of the athletes. But nothing ever dies on the internet, and if a country where being LGBT can be punished by imprisonment or even death wants to find out which of their athletes is gay, they can. The Daily Beast is standing by Nico Hines and his despicable article, stating in part:
Some readers have read Nico as mocking or sex-shaming those on Grindr. We do not feel he did this in any way. However, the Daily Beast understands that others may have interpreted the piece differently.
The Society of Professional Journalists has an entire section on “minimizing harm,” something we can all agree Nico Hines did not do. He did not minimize harm, he maximized harm. You can read the SPJ code of ethics here, but here are two statements on the ethics of minimizing harm:
-Balance the public’s need for information against potential harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance or undue intrusiveness.
-Show compassion for those who may be affected by news coverage. Use heightened sensitivity when dealing with juveniles, victims of sex crimes, and sources or subjects who are inexperienced or unable to give consent. Consider cultural differences in approach and treatment.
Potential harm or discomfort. Outing gay Olympic athletes who may represent a country where they can be imprisoned or killed just for being who they are seems harmful. Nico Hines showed no compassion, he did not use heightened sensitivity, and he most certainly did not consider cultural differences in his quest for click bait revenue.
And lest anyone growl “Well, Erin, it’s the internet, what do you expect,” remember: Nico Hines isn’t some lowly blogger. Nico Hines is the London editor for The Daily Beast. Nico Hines is a journalist.
Well, he was.