Last November 24, 2014, the New York Times published an article by Julie Bosman and Campbell Robertson on the wedding of Darren Wilson, in which the short street on which Wilson’s home is located is clearly named.
Wilson is the Ferguson cop who both a Missouri grand jury and the Obama administration’s Department of Justice determined is innocent of wrongdoing in the shooting death of 300-lb 18-year-old Michael Brown. Since the jury decision, Wilson had left the Ferguson police force.
At the time when the New York Times published the story, the newspaper was taken to task for publishing the name of Wilson’s bride, a fellow officer in the Ferguson Police Department, as well as the name of the street. Critics maintain that publicizing the names endangers Darren and his wife because the street in question is relatively small and holds about 40 homes, which makes it easy for those searching to narrow down which one belongs to the Wilsons. Moreover, their neighbors are also potentially put in harm’s way because vandals may mistake a neighbor’s home for the Wilsons’.
But New York Times stood by its decision. (Washington Examiner)
It is now almost 4 months later, both the names of Wilson’s wife and their street are still in the NYT article:
Darren Wilson, the officer who fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown in August, has been out of public sight ever since. Yet last month, he stepped into a St. Louis County office building, gave his name and applied for a marriage license.
Several days later, Officer Wilson married Barbara Spradling, a fellow officer in the Ferguson Police Department, public records show…. Officer Wilson and Officer Spradling own a home together on Manda Lane in Crestwood, Mo., a St. Louis suburb about a half-hour drive from Ferguson.
In its defense, New York Times argues that Wilson’s home location had already been revealed by media outlets.
Indeed, CNN was the first to do so in August 2014 on the day that Ferguson police chief Jackson released Darren Wilson’s name. In a video report showing Wilson’s house, including the street number, CNN reporter Ed Lavandera is seen walking in the street where Wilson lives (see pic below). The video shows a wide view of Wilson’s house and then pans around the street to show its relative position in the neighborhood. While Lavandera did not name the street, he did give its approximate location.
Other media outlets immediately followed CNN’s example. Some, like USA Today and Yahoo News, named the town in which Wilson lives — Crestwood, a suburb of St. Louis. Others, notably The Washington Post, named the street itself — Manda Lane. (See “Media make public Ferguson cop’s photo and address”)
None of the above excuses the New York Times of naming the street and the town three months later. Doing so serves no journalistic “public’s right to know” purpose.
Both Darren Wilson and his wife are recognized for their performance as police officers. Officer Spradling received a medal of valor award in 2012 for her work as a police officer; Officer Wilson received a commendation in early 2014 for his arrest of a suspect in a drug case. Neither deserves having their home address outed by New York Times and other media.