Reading for Main Ideas
can be divided into four main ideas. What does the reading say about each idea? Circle the letter of
the sentence that best summarizes the idea.
Reporters constantly struggle with what and how much to tell. Sometimes the facts are
clear. Other times, journalists must rely on their own judgment.
A retired minister in a
small town does not return from a fishing trip. Police find his car parked about halfway to the lake.
It is locked and undamaged. In it they find a half-eaten sandwich, fishing tackle, a gun with one
shell fired, and a copy of Penthouse (a magazine that contains pictures of naked women). The
minister is missing. Youre the reporter and your story is due.
What do you report?
Suppose the minister just went for a walk? Do you risk embarrassment and mention the magazine? Is the
gun important? Should you propose any theories about what might have
The reporter who actually faced these decisions decided to mention the gun, the
sandwich, the fishing tackle, and the condition of the car, but not the magazine or any speculation.
The ministers body was later found. He had been killed by a hitchhiker, who had left the
magazine in the ministers car.
In the old days, reporters knew politicians (including
presidents) who slept around, movie stars who were gay, and public figures who used drugs or abused
alcohol. They just kept it to themselves. Now, at least in part because the public seems to have an
endless hunger for it, reporters sometimes cover these aspects of celebrities lives more than
Some of the interest can be justified on the basis that character affects how people
perform their jobs. But what if the information isnt relevant? For example, does the public
need to know that a senator is gay? When a famous person dies, does the public have a right to
all the details? Should the public know which public figures are unfaithful to their spouses? Are
these things we need to know or just things we want to know?
When Gennifer Flowers
alleged a twelve-year affair with President Bill Clinton, she first sold the story to the tabloid
Star. CNN reported the story and so did the networks and the major newspapers and news
magazines. Peter Jennings, anchor for ABCs World News Tonight, was against
broadcasting the Flowers story without further reporting by ABC correspondents, but says, it
was made clear to [me]
that if you didnt go with the story, every [ABC] affiliate in the
country would look up and say, What the hells going on in this place? Dont they
know a story when they see it?
Some stories receive
such wide visibility that to ignore them is to play ostrich man, says Shelby Coffey,
editor of the Los Angeles Times. You have to give your readers some perspective on the
information they are getting.
Scrutiny may be the price one pays for fame. But what about
relatives of celebrities? Are they fair game too? And what about the average
When Sara Jane Moore pointed a gun at President Ford, a man in the crowd knocked her
hand, deflecting the shot. The man, Oliver W. Sipple, became an instant hero. He was thirty-three
years old and a Marine veteran. What else did the public want or need to know about him? Initial
reports did not mention Sipples sexual orientation. But when a San Francisco news columnist
said that local gay leaders were proud of Sipples actions, other papers began to report it.
Sipple sued the columnist and several newspapers for invading his privacy. He said that he suffered
great mental anguish, embarrassment and humiliation. Lawyers argued that by becoming
involved in an event of worldwide importance. Sipple had given up his right to privacy because the
public has a legitimate interest in his activity.
Rosa Lopez was a maid
working quietly and anonymously until she became a key witness in the O.J. Simpson trial. Suddenly,
she was the focus of intense scrutiny. Lopez was hounded by cameras and reporters everywhere she
went. Her every move was analyzed. She eventually returned to her native country to escape the
pressure, only to find the media followed her there.
How many witnesses will
come forward in the future, knowing what kind of treatment awaits them? Do people who accidentally
find themselves involved in such high-profile cases have rights, or do we deserve to know everything
NorthStar Reading and Writing, pp. 5-6