When is a Teacher with a Porn Past News?

Lots of talk about the Boston Fox25 story focusing on a local teacher who was “ambushed” by a reporter about the teacher’s appearance in gay porn. The reporter, Michael Beaudet, has defended his work on Twitter but says he’s still on the story.

Here’s the second day story from Fox25 where the reporter explains how he got the story and the subsequent reaction:

“A viewer called us concerned that Kevin Hogan was working at the Mystic Valley Regional Charter School in Malden,” Beaudet said on the FOX 25 News.

The viewer was concerned because of Hogan’s role in the movies, which were found online.

FOX Undercover began looking into Hogan’s past, and found his movies were made in 2010 and readily found online. He also apparently taught before making his movies, and then began working at Mystic Valley Regional Charter School this school year after making the movies.

and the reaction

After FOX Undercover contacted the school for comment, the school placed Hogan on paid leave while it conducts its own investigation.

The story, which aired on Tuesday, sparked a flood of responses, many of them critical of the story. One tweet said “Kevin Hogan did not deserve that. He’s a good teacher with students supporting him.”

Before the story aired, FOX Undercover asked parents what they thought of Hogan teaching in the school after acting in pornographic movies.

“I’m disturbed. I’m surprised. The kids really love him. He’s been a great addition to the team. He’s a new coach this year. New head of the English department. This is scary,” one mother said.

“It’s very bad. The students and the young generation shouldn’t have something like that,” another man picking up a student said.

“What is my reaction? Oh my God! Everyone’s innocent until proven guilty. I don’t like to judge people. I’m very for this school. I think it’s a great academic program,” one mother said.

As the debate moves to whether his porn career should disqualify him for teaching, many say he should be allowed to teach because his didn’t do anything illegal.

The story has been described as “gotcha journalism” and some say the report is unfair to the teacher. Mediaite described it as:

the Carl Monday school of journalism, where an over-exuberant investigative reporter sticks a camera in an alleged perpetrator’s face to drum up outrage but actually makes the viewer sympathetic to the subject in question. After reviewing the video, Beaudet seems to have conducted his undercover report in a mean-spirited, smear-campaign fashion to get the teacher fired.

At Huffington Post, Brody Brown called it a:

 fear-mongering crusade, Mike Beaudet, an investigative undercover reporter for FOX Boston, has placed English teacher and crew coach Kevin Hogan in the community’s crosshairs, setting the stage for what appears to be the start of another one of these public crucifixions and character assassinations.

Not all the coverage has been critical. At the Boston Herald, columnist Margery Eagan says porn and teaching don’t mix, but points out that the teacher did nothing illegal and that  “[m]illions of us spend hours a day watching pornography online. Yet when we find someone who made money performing in what’s become our second — or maybe third — favorite national pastime, it’s off with his head.”

Stepping back from the journalistic approach to stopping a teacher on the street to confront him on camera about his career in porn, there is a more basic question: is this news and–if it is news–does it justify this approach?

Arguably, it is “interesting” that a teacher and coach is appearing/has appeared in porn but it may not rise to the level of “news” that justifies a full-court press and ambush interviews. The story seems to have a “sweeps month” hysteria (EDIT: the story actually ran after sweeps were over) to it that doesn’t match the significance.  The news questions are:

– Is the public really being served by being told this information?

– How much private information does the public need to know about the employee of a charter school?

– What is the goal of reporting the information and what is the motivation behind the story?

If the story is news–and it is possible that may depend on the community and the person involved–then the next question is does the story need to be done in the way it was done by Fox25.  My sense is that even if one believes it is news, it is not a story that deserves “ambush” interviews and screaming headlines. Confronting a school teacher about a legal act that occurred in his off-time and didn’t involve students seems like an unnecessarily tabloidish approach to a story.

What are your thoughts?

3 Responses

  1. This is very bad journalism. It reeks of a “Scarlet Letter” mentality. It also plays into the meme that gay people are dangerous to children. Hogan has violated no laws. He apparently did not expose any children to his pornographic work. The only way anyone would even know of his pornographic work would be to willingly watch it. I don’t see a story here other than a “isn’t it interesting that a sex worker can be an effective and popular teacher” story, and that is not what this was. It was an hysterical, homophobic, sexphobic story entirely worthy of Fox News. I am glad the dolt of a reporter is getting some pushback.

  2. When you consider that the story started off with Mr. Hogan saying “I don’t know what you’re talking about, have a nice Thanksgiving” and then you realize the the story aired on the following Tuesday after Thanksgiving – you do the math and realize Mr. Hogan had at least 5 days (if not more) to contact the reporter and do a formal style interview to set the record straight. I’m sure the reporter would have rather used an interview with real answers in exchange for not airing the confrontation style interview.
    Investigative Reporters confront people like this because IF they ask for a formal interview then they run the risk of the subject going into hiding before the story deadline and never getting answers.
    This doesn’t seem to be a story condemning the teacher because he is “gay” – but rather that he starred in pornography sold on the shelves of Mass and worldwide on the web as recently as last year. He’s been a teacher for decades. How long did the teacher think this would go unnoticed? Imagine the fallout if the information worked it’s way through the student body prior to adults discovering it?
    Recently a former porn actress (Sasa Grey -sp) read books to first graders for 3 hours and the school district got heat for it – but this guy works with older students who have a bevy of social difficulties to hurdle. Parents need to trust that the teacher spending 40 hours a week with their child has the good judgement to guide them appropriately, and starring in porn in your forties says a lot about good judgement skills. If Mr. Hogan did this in his early twenties, then I would totally think it was somewhat okay, but seeing Mr. Hogan also started an online porn store in 2009 called “Candy Coated Porn” and just recently closed his twitter account under his porn star name “Hytch Cawke” this lack earned wisdom is not the case(ah hem, I think the “Hytch” is word play and has something to do with the metal ring on the end of his unit.)
    Mr. Hogan deserved to be exposed for lying to his school district and running the risk that this would have been discovered by the students. Discovered by students and the message would be that starring in porn is equivalent to being the Head of the English Dept.
    This is a great teaching moment for students in an age when everything they put on the web is something that could possibly hurt their chances of getting into college or a future job.
    Good luck to Mr. Hogan, I think he can still teach in some state or go to the university level. He can even parlay this to porn celebrity and sell the book he recently edited.
    His next film theme and titled could be “Cum to Class with Professor Hytch Cawke.”
    Don’t shoot the messenger at a time when we need more investigative teams at new outlets under budget cuts. Mr. Beaudet has an excellent reputation for going after some heavy topics and doing right by the taxpayers. He’s done great stories for nearly two decades, stories that include exposing discrimination and also gay ballot box issues that would have hurt the pro gay marriage vote in Massachusetts. He’s done stories that would be considered both pro and anti illegal immigration, so what becomes clear to this viewer is that he doesn’t have an agenda other than discovering the truth. This story could be called a “lay up” in the Investigative News circles – not too hard evidence (no pun) to uncover once given the tip. But it still performed a service for the parents, taxpayers and school department in that district. Not all stories can be 6 month investigations.

  3. You MUST be kidding. A reporter ambushes you in the street with a TV camera and THEN you phone him up offering a formal sit-down in exchange for the reporter spiking the ambush? To call this naive would be kind. This may have happened at some point in the history of journalism, but I’ve been in the business almost 30 years and I’ve never heard of it.
    .
    Since this is how Mr. Chase starts, I won’t even bother with the rest of his specious, smug, and beside-the-point ‘reasoning.’ (Obviously, this got my goat.)

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