Just finished reading this front page New York Times story about the online child porn business and feel compelled to recommend it. It's extremely disturbing, a real wake-up call to parents and child welfare advocates. It's also an excellent example of why we need reporters. Kurt Eichenwald does an incredible job of addressing a problem law enforcement agencies and advocacy organizations didn't know existed.
I often hear people over 40 talking about how their kids know more than they do about computers. It's great that our kids are technologically savvy, but parents and guardians and people who work with kids need to keep up. You can't read the warning signs if you don't know what to look for.
UPDATE: Here's another take on this story, from Boing-Boing. Thanks, Bill. I have to say, my gut reaction — as someone who didn't go to journalism school — is that this NYT reporter did the right thing by encouraging this kid to get out of the porn biz, and by contacting authorities. It seems like the kind of journalistic detachment opponants of this story are advocating is part of why people don't trust or are skeptical of the mainstream media. We're human beings, too, and we should be careful about censoring our human responses to devastation — physical or emotional — when we report it. I don't think anyone objected to the TV anchors who reported on hurricane Katrina and helped rescue survivors off-camera.
Frankly, I'm not concerned about compromising "objectivity" here. How can anybody be objective about a kid selling images of his body online? I doubt there are any credible people who would argue that this behavior is healthy and deserves to be protected.