Of course, Wahl is speaking from an advocate’s perspective. But his argument makes sense journalistically, too. Think of the six basic questions that news stories are supposed to answer. Two of these — the “what” and the “why” — can only be adequately pursued if Marzilli’s illness is subjected to continued reporting. Did Marzilli have a history of mental problems? If so, what sort of treatment had he previously received? Just how often do individuals with bipolar disorder act in a sexually inappropriate manner? What sorts of socially aberrant behavior aren’t attributable to mental illness? (To cite another recent case involving a politician: is Elliot Spitzer a sex addict, or just a cad?) And when an individual is diagnosed with a severe psychiatric condition like bipolar disorder, how responsible should we hold them for what they say and do?
The first two questions feel intrusive. The last two lead, pretty quickly, into some weighty philosophical deliberations. But all of them are relevant. Not to pursue them in earnest would be, well, crazy.
To read the “Don’t Quote Me” blog, go to thePhoenix.com/medialog. Adam Reilly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
: Media -- Dont Quote Me
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