Driving while texting: Is The New York Times encouraging while exposing it?


The photograph -- top of the front page, the New York Times, last Sunday's edition -- was dramatic enough. There it was, every parent's nightmare, in startling full color: a driver texting on a smartphone while a friend's hand gripped the steering wheel. Surely this image, by photographer Dan Gill, was staged -- but no. Here's the startling caption: "At 60 miles an hour on a Missouri highway, a 16-year-old driver texts with a friend as a 17-year-old takes the wheel."

Not that you're surprised. How many times have you seen this? Chances are, you've probably done it (or something like it) -- or you constantly discourage your spouse, partner, friend, or child from doing it. And though the image ran beneath a headline decrying the dangers of "Dismissing the Risks of a Deadly Habit," blogger Jim MacMillan wondered on Twitter whether the Times hadn't committed an ethical violation. By taking the photo and depicting the practice -- Gill says he was on an unrelated assignment in the car with the teens and snapped what was happening -- above the fold on the Newspaper of Record: isn't that an unspoken endorsement of the behavior?