By ETTY GROSSMAN
Last week, Colombia faced a major wiretapping scandal, which led to the resignation of various public officials.
The scandal started when prominent radio host, news anchor and journalist, Vicky Dávila published a secretly filmed video of a 2008 conversation about gay sex between Senator Carlos Ferro and Police Capitan Anyelo Palacios.
She stated that she released the video as an attempt to expose alleged grave sexual misconduct within the National Police, a complaint that has been investigated by other journalists for months.
The content of the video was so strong that it immediately forced the resignation of Ferro, vice minister of the Interior and National Police Director General Rodolfo Palomino, who had already been charged with sexual harassment.
After the scandal, the whole country, including the news media, was divided in two. People joined either one side or the other; there was no neutral opinion in this case.
One side believed that Dávila published the video in order to help the state with the investigation of the “Fellowship of the Ring,” an alleged gay prostitution network in the police force, which cannot be tolerated. People such as Dávila, those who supported the publication of the video, concluded that the information released served as a proof of the prostitution ring.
The other side, the one I support, claimed that the broadcasting and publishing of this extremely intimate video shows zero evidence of any involvement in prostitution; instead, it only publicizes private matters of professional politicians. Yes, the video proved that the former parliamentarian had had a relationship with a policeman, but it also showed that it would have been consensual.
How are we journalists covering things? Should our beliefs affect our objectivity?
Here is where the journalism’s role as the watchdog of the public interests at its heart should be brought into question.
Colombians might be interested to know where and with who their public figures sleep at night, but since this conduct doesn’t interfere with their assigned work, it should remain private. These persons should be judged by their professional performance, what they do for sexual pleasure, as long as it’s legal, should not be considered a public concern.
The pressure and comments from social media were so explosive that the video was removed from the networks and Dávila resigned as well.
So, did she have a genuine public interest in revealing this or was it something more personal? Despite the reason, journalists should be more careful with what they are publishing.
Words are powerful, they can contribute a lot, but they can also destroy; as Ferro, the victim of this whole story said: “I hope that justice can give me back the dignity journalist Vicky Dávila wanted to snatch from me.”