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Is It Ever Acceptable For The Media To 'Out' Someone?

Gawker is still reeling from the controversy surrounding a post, which has since been removed from the site, that revealed a male Condé Nast executive allegedly solicited a male escort on a business trip. Because the executive (who is married to a woman) was not a public figure, critics lashed out, classifying Gawker's story as gay-shaming rather than journalism. But is outing ever acceptable? What about in the case of conservative politicians, whose private lives may color their public ones with hypocrisy? 

HuffPost Live's Marc Lamont Hill hosted a panel discussion on Wednesday about the ethics of publicly announcing someone else's sexuality. The fundamental consideration, according to University of Minnesota media ethics professor Jane Kirtley, is weighing the benefits of outing against the pain it could cause in an individual's life.

"The Society of Professional Journalists has an ethics code, and one of the things it says to do is to seek truth and report it," Kirtley said. "But what it also says is that you're supposed to minimize harm. And you think carefully about the good that's going to be done versus the harm you're going to cause."

In the video above, Kirtley joins Gawker writer Rich Juzwiak and journalist Maria Bustillos to debate when outing an LGBT person is fair and when it isn't. 

Watch the full HuffPost Live discussion about the fallout of Gawker's controversial story here.

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