A new "sting" operation

With technology available to almost everyone, in a sense we all can become journalists or investigative reporters. Remember what made the 1991 Rodney King story so compelling was that a bystander was able to film the entire thing — excessive police force and all. The incident could not be boiled down to a “he said/she said” battle (with the person with less power — King in this case — usually losing); there was documentation to support the story for all to see.

Fast-forward to 2009 where pictures and even video can be captured on a phone. Most computers come with webcams, and sites enable people to upload their images –their story (or their version of it) for free.

That is exactly what anti-choice UCLA student Lila Rose did. She and a team of supporters are engaging in a series of stings on Planned Parenthood — posing as underage girls impregnated by adults and recording what happens. Her videos reveal that sometimes Planned Parenthood staffers ignore the age of the father when discussing pregnancy options, which is illegal as cases of child abuse and/or statutory rape potentially are being discovered. According to the article in the LA Times about Rose, her objective in posting these sting operations is to “undermine legal abortion by showing that Planned Parenthood, the largest provider of abortions in the country, abets sexual exploitation by counseling pregnant minors to lie about the ages of their adult boyfriends.”

Anti-choice activists have been accusing Planned Parenthood of failing to report suspected statutory rapes for years. But disseminating the evidence using new media is the new generation’s way of doing things. The videos — five minutes each and accompanied by ominous music and fast cuts heighten the story they tell. Representatives from Planned Parenthood accuse Rose of editing out some key portions of the encounter in order to serve her cause and exacerbate blame.

So, is this journalism? Cause for an investigation? Or just a student project? It remains to be seen. And stories such as this, as well as that of the ill-fated To Catch a Predator, will only become more common as even us common folk are able to tell our stories to the world (or to anyone whom will listen).

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