October 26, 2012

Bill Nemitz: Innocents, innocence will suffer from 'the list'

(Continued from page 1)

Kelly McBride, who specializes in media ethics for the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla., noted in an interview Friday that "mainstream journalists are no longer the gatekeepers for who can see this information."

Rather, Twitter and Facebook are at least as likely to serve as conduits for "the list" within hours (if not minutes) of its release.

For the johns, of course, that's simply a matter of getting what you paid for -- and then some.

While some might argue that their looming punishment in the public square far outweighs a Class E misdemeanor committed behind closed doors, this is hardly the time to claim that they somehow have become the victims here.

But what about all those wives and children? Devastating as this might be inside homes throughout Kennebunk and beyond, is there any way to mitigate the misery they'll experience this week as they head for the workplace, the supermarket, the church or, worst of all, the school bus?

Much to his credit, Superintendent Dolloff spent last week doing what he could to limit the fallout.

In addition to the one-page memo he wrote to all RSU 21 employees, Dolloff asked his principals to meet with their staffs and convey two basic messages.

First, he instructed, principals and/or guidance counselors should quietly and confidentially reach out to any kids they know to be affected by the scandal and determine, within 24 hours or less, what school-based support is needed.

Second, Dolloff prohibited any list-related teasing or bullying by other students, as well as any idle discussion of the prostitution case whatsoever among teachers and staff.

"Jokes and rumors are easily communicated in matters such as this," Dolloff wrote in his memo. "But we do not necessarily know who may be within earshot, or who may be impacted in an unfortunate manner."

Nor, for that matter, do any of us.

As Poynter's McBride noted, "Yes, there will be prominent people on the list -- and there will be people nobody cares about who are on the list."

But either way, she added, "the release of this list is going to have significant impact for everybody who's on it and everybody in their circle, however big that is."

Or, pity the poor children, however small.

Columnist Bill Nemitz can be contacted at 791-6323 or at:

bnemitz@mainetoday.com

 

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