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Kentucky Basketball: Should Reporters Break News to their Subjects?

Matt Jones at Kentucky Sports Radio takes issue with this article (which I linked earlier) written by the Washington Post.  It is an in-depth article about John Wall's upbringing and childhood.

During the article, it is revealed that John Wall's father was imprisoned for 30 years.  It is also revealed later in the article that his father was also incarcerated before he met John's mother for second-degree murder.

Matt thinks that the reporter went too far in disclosing this new information to Wall, which his mother had never told him before:

Now imagine that scene for a minute. Just days before John Wall reaches a goal that he has worked for his entire life, a reporter for a newspaper, someone who is likely a stranger to Wall, looks at him and informs him for the first time that his father had killed someone. To me, that action is wholly inappropriate and somewhat shameful. John Wall is now a public figure, and as such, his background and life before he became known is arguably relevant. I dont believe people’s family members are necessarily relevant indicators of a person’s character, but I also know that in today’s day and age, what your family did in the past, will be brought up as part of your future. So while I probably would not have done that research into his father’s past and included it in the story, I dont think it is malicious to do so. But once the reporter knew that Wall was not aware of his father’s criminal past, I find it highly inappropriate for him to believe that he should be the one to break the news to Wall.

More after the jump.

I want to agree with Matt, but unfortunately, I cannot.  The reporter clearly intended to include this background in the story, rightly or wrongly.  So if he had done as Matt suggested, Wall still would have found out -- after the article was printed!  Even more scary, what if Wall had not read the article, and some third party revealed it to him offhand?  Can you imagine a more horrifying way to learn an ugly truth than from some stranger who had read it in the Post?

I suppose the reporter could have simply told his mother that this fact was going to be in the story, and had her tell Wall, and maybe that would have been best.

But the reality is, Wall is entering the big-boy world now, and this is how big boys find out about things.  I know it could not have been pleasant to have had a non-family member reveal that bad news to him, but it could have happened at any time during Wall's career so far had a reporter been so inclined to do the research and write the story.  At the end of the day, I don't believe the reporter meant or even produced any harm.  John's a man now, and things just get tougher from here on out.

I appreciate Matt's thinking, I really do.  But perhaps Helen Hayes said it best:

Every human being on this earth is born with a tragedy, and it isn't original sin. He's born with the tragedy that he has to grow up. That he has to leave the nest, the security, and go out to do battle. He has to lose everything that is lovely and fight for a new loveliness of his own making, and it's a tragedy. A lot of people don't have the courage to do it.

Lack of courage is not something John Wall is familiar with, and I can't wait to see his new loveliness.