The New York Times published a personal story by Eilene Zimmerman about lawyers who abuse drugs, including her ex-husband who overdosed and died. The article included photos of the author’s family, but purposefully didn’t include her children’s last name to protect their privacy.
Zimmerman’s July 15 Times article, “The Lawyer, The Addict,” describes her experience finding out about her ex-husband’s drug addiction and discusses more generally, drug use among lawyers. She noted, “To protect the privacy of our children and Peter’s extended family, I’m not using his surname.”
A Times editor addressed the concern and questions in a July 19 explanation in the Times’ Reader Center since readers were confused as to why the newspaper wouldn’t name, but would show photos of the children. The post, by Business Day Enterprise Editor Jesse Pesta, responded to readers’ questions about whether “publishing the snapshots undermine” any attempt at privacy.
Pesta explained the reasoning was by showing but not naming the children, they would be protected from Google searches linking them permanently to a story about their father’s drug addiction. The photos were included to add to the personal nature of the story, he said. iMediaEthics has written to Zimmerman to ask if thus far, the effort to protect her children’s privacy has been successful.
The New York Times announced the end of its public editor position May 31, as iMediaEthics reported, but said it was replacing it with a Reader Center to respond to reader concerns. In the past month, the Reader Center has published several articles discussing such things as headline choice, editing and clickbait. On July 22, the Reader Center published an explanation from national security editor Amy Fiscus about why the newspaper published the name of a covert CIA official.