I just got off the phone with a guy who picked up the Breaking News tip line at the Urinal News- er… Journal News. That number is 914.694.5077
Here are some notes from our conversation:
BFH: Does the Journal News stand by their decision to publish the names and addresses of gun permit owners?
JN: There’s been no change.
BFH: What was the motive of publishing this map?
JN: The motive was clearly stated at the time of publication
BFH: Can you spell it out for me what the motive was?
JN: It was spelled out when we published it.
BFH: I didn’t see that. I saw the map.
JN: If you haven’t seen it then why are you calling?
BFH: For your…
JN: What does it have to do with you if you haven’t seen it and you’re not affected by it?
BFH: No, no no, I haven’t seen what you say is the reason you published the map. I’ve seen the map. I haven’t seen your stated reason. I don’t know where to go to read that. Why can’t you just state the reason now?
JN: One of the roles of journalists is to report publicly available information on timely issues, even if it is unpopular. We knew providing the information in the database in the context of our story would be controversial, but we thought that sharing the information about gun permits in our area was important in the aftermath of the Newtown shooting.
BFH: What is the import of that?
JN: We felt that it was important for people to know about that.
BFH: Know about what?
JN: The information that was imparted.
BFH: Well, what are people supposed to do with that information?
JN: It’s up to them.
BFH: So you’re putting that information out there as a public service and you don’t care what people do with that information?
JN: I have no comment and I’m not going to let you bait me…
BFH: no no no… wait, one last thing. I’ve made some phone calls to some of the people on the map, and 30% of the people were ex-detectives, judges and attorneys. (Full disclosure – I called 3 people and one was an ex-detective who was very upset. One other person I called did his own research and uncovered several attorneys, judges and members of law enforcement.) Do you care that you put this information out about people who spent a lifetime keeping certain information non-public?
JN: The information is legally available and public.
BFH: Ya, but what is legally available and what is right morally and ethically are two different things. Do you have any opinion on that?
JN: My opinion is not an issue here.
BFH: Is the Journal news going to continue with this style sheet, publishing FOIA information, are you going to put out anything other than gun permits, perhaps people who are HIV positive? That would be a “public service.”
JN: I have no idea..
BFH: Would that be a public service?
JN:.. I wouldn’t reveal our plans to you even if I did know.
BFH: Would that serve the public?
JN: I have no comment.
BFH: What about people who are gay? Would that serve the public?
JN: You know the answer to that.
BFH: No I don’t. I’m asking you, the Journal News is educating me.
JN: I have no comment for you. If you have a (unintelligible) to answer I’d be happy to answer it, otherwise I will say goodbye to you and have a good day. (His voice sounded like he wanted me to die a thousand deaths.)
BFH: hmmm… wow