Putting Communities and Children At Risk

A fair number of Fox Undercover segments feature actual convicted sex offenders, but also sometimes people who might work with vulnerable populations who someone alleges did something unwholesome or in bad judgment, who Fox 25 Undercover proposes might be in a position to harm the population. None of these people appear to be escapees or probation violators per se. They are almost always individual private individuals who appear to be moving forward with their lives, as the law often allows people to do to whatever degree the system determines they should. The segments rarely look at a true shortcoming in the law supported by one or two examples as case studies which highlight the issues, as would normally occur in investigative journalism. Instead the segments virtually always involve specifically targeting (and often ambushing) the individual to ask them if they think they should be doing what they are doing or working where they are working; or they involve surprising people in the community in what can only be described as telling someone a juicy secret and then filming their response. In either case, the questions are usually designed to either leave the person without a good answer or to simply have an obvious answer such as “yes this bothers me”. At the end of the segment, the viewer comes away with a skewed representation of the person and a very powerful smear campaign launched against the individual who as a private or semi-private figure, has no way to overcome the negative PR that a news station can generate. Even if Beaudet’s facts are untrue or badly skewed, most government agencies or schools or organizations, will find every legal way possible to avoid scrutiny by firing, laying off or marginalizing the target. While all of this smirks of yellow or gotcha journalism the danger potentially posed by Beaudet and his informants is so troubling, you will wonder why you first missed it. Beaudet’s justification for his “journalism”is the protection or unveiling of a secret that is so deeply covered, that only by his brave expose will the community be saved from some safety risk. Yet Beaudet either does not recognize, or chooses to ignore the fact that the secondary and tertiary effects of his tabloidism can be just as damaging to the community:

At first glance, it seems like quite a brave and heroic thing to fight for media attention to a subject that might be both newsworthy and relevant to current politics, law or culture. However, in order for Fox Undercover to pursue a news story they must have information that is not already “out there”,since their stories rely on surprising the public with news that only they uncovered. This means that an informant in a community must a) have access to information which others do not, b) withhold it from others in the community and c) be willing to have their community the center of a Fox Undercover segment which is very disruptive and can sometimes be costly. Now if a person is working in the community or schools and is purported to pose a risk to the community in some way, the informant and Fox Undercover must keep it a secret from others. This not only potentially leaves the informants own family potentially at risk, it leaves one’s neighbors and the greater community at risk. As a parent, I can tell you for absolute certain that no sane person who believes their children could be harmed, would put theirs and others children in such a risky predicament, keeping the secret until the segment airs (and this can typically be many weeks). Thus the informants who are assert that they are doing a service to the community is in fact, motivated by ulterior motives which include a willingness to put their own community at risk. Furthermore, there seems to be some sort of incentive which causes informants to decide against protecting their own community, created by the opportunity to make use of a Fox Undercover smear campaign instead. Whether this incentive is revenge, money or the persuasive work of Fox Undercover employees, we cannot say for sure. See more about Fox Undercover informants.
Perhaps at some point in the past, when the bar wasn’t quite so low as it is today in television journalism, people would accept that a reporter might come into their child’s school to investigate school safety. There were after all days when anyone could walk into a school as schools were the original churches and community centers.  But in today's world of child safety concerns, Beaudet seems to act in complete disregard for the inappropriateness of hidden cameras in schools and community areas, not to mention the media circuses, and financial and social fallout that befalls a targeted community.
Fox Undercover will always claim that it was the communities right to know. But the problem is that only a minority percentage (based on simple statistics) watch Fox 25 News. And those in the community (such as a school board) who are best capable to handle a situation in a professional and appropriate manner will have never been notified. Instead, thousands of people who have absolutely nothing to do with that community will find out instead, and it will only be in the gossiping aftermath that everyone else finds out. In one case, Beaudet did a story which affected a dozen people living in a particular place. If someone really insisted on informing that population, why not print a dozen fliers or knock on a few doors?   Beaudet's assertion that people have a right to know, is controverted by his insistence that it be a secret until he tells it.
A large public school system once had to issue a warning letter to faculty that Fox Undercover had been known to sneak into the schools with hidden cameras. Beaudet showed off the letter like a trophy. Does any parent anywhere, want Fox News sneaking into their child’s school with cameras? Does anyone want their child appearing in the background in a news clip? Whether faces are blocked out or not, any clip taken on private property or in a public place where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy, should greatly concern parents.   We would like to remind teachers and parents that Fox Undercover has no business inside your child's school.  You can call the police, and press can be charged with tresspassing, wiretapping or invading privacy by putting hidden cameras inside the school.   More information here on confronting Fox Undercover.
Apparently, Mr. Beaudet has filmed children in their own schools or communities, or around homes or businesses. And in no case, does it appear that they have asked for permission to do so from the parents. And while one can legally do this in a public place, there is really no control that a parent has over the use of the footage. This is the least of the issue though. Beaudet has also discussed sensitive, private or adult themes in the clear presence of children. Again, completely without their parents’permission. And while the First Amendment does protect such free speech, most people would agree that the boundaries of appropriateness are being badly stretched when one is now discussing shocking – often sexual or legal – information in front of minors.
But by far the most disconcerting issues, by far the most damaging, and far reaching affect has been that Beaudet’s segments have universally created disruption and shock in local communities. In today’s world, it is simply impossible to prevent a school full of over a thousand children from finding out that their teacher did something unpristine when it has been etched in television tabloid. And the full details of that unpristine situation, even if something that might best be handled discreetly, will end up on the cell phones and iPADs of a community full of children. This is unacceptable and is where we as parents behind this website must draw the line. While we can all debate whether or not we should shelter our children from certain subjects, we as parents have the right to choose how deeply we wish our children to be informed. We do not discuss the sex lives of teachers for example, not because we deny that they have sex, but because it is simply an adult theme that we as parents should have a say in. We denounce Fox 25 for their greedy and reckless dismissal of ours and our children’s privacy. And while Beaudet has a recorded history of denying or diffusing bad judgment in his work, we would challenge him to welcome a news expose in his own hometown, exposing his own young children.

PART V Creating Unknown Psychological Attacks on Potentially Unstable Populations

A registered sex offender who is living in the community may be under regular care and supervision.   Another former offender may now be living a stable life without the need for supervision.  Like any other addict, they need a support system around them, tough boundaries and a stable environment. Putting someone who may be stable into a situation where they are ambushed, ostacized and publically humiliated can be very risky. These people can potentially become more secretive, reclusive and stressed. That Fox Undercover takes the risk of creating such severe psychological stress and isolation on people who they are not in a position to evaluate is extremely dangerous and risky.

The authors of this website are critically concerned that Fox 25 supports a news segment and a reporter who repeatedly create risky and damaging situations in our cities and towns, for the gain of their television network. We believe that this is an ethical abuse of free press, and is unproductive, destructive and is done with utter disregard for journalistic integrity. And given that Fox 25 is not even locally owned, that Mike Beaudet is not local (despite his own assertions) and that the management of Fox 25 News appears to have little stability, we believe that the residents of Boston area communities should have some say about invading our towns and reeking havoc. If Fox 25 wants to exploit the freedom of press, let them do it from their studios – not our schools.

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