Who owns a story?
It’s been observed recently among by our Marriage Editor that men do not feel comfortable talking about their marriages. Although they are half the relationship, it is as though these husbands have ceded control of their emotional lives to their wives, in the ultimate act of gender districting, so that even their own joys, hopes, and fears are not their own. Men will talk about their relationship problems … but only after several pints.
In writing about our lives, what stories are yours, even when they involve other people?
We may feel inhibited from writing about our family members without explicit consent, to preserve relationships and others’ right to privacy. While not all revelations are negative; they may seem private, or at least potentially so, no matter how ordinary. Is it a breach of your children’s future privacy concerns to write about their antics on your blog while they’re small? What internal and external consequences have arisen from writing about your family? What consequences do you fear? How does this govern what you share in writing and with whom?
Did you ever write about someone living who did you wrong? Were you afraid they would read it? Did they?
What ethical questions have you asked yourself before writing about anyone alive, whether a candidate for public office, or your preschooler? What could have happened if you hadn’t? What professional codes govern the ethics of writing about living people? Do you follow them, or notice when bloggers or journalists do not? Are there exceptions to the usual rules about writing about other people?
Send your pitches and submissions on the ethics of writing about living people to Justin Cascio at [email protected] Completed submissions are due Saturday, April 13. Accepted work will appear in an upcoming series on The Good Life on The Good Men Project.
Update: The series on The Ethics of Writing About Living People has run on The Good Life. Want to contribute to the conversation? Email your pitch to Justin Cascio at [email protected] (Edited 5/15/13)
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