There’s plenty to question about an odd situation in Chicago, where a TV reporter apparently lost her job after a videotape showed her socializing with a source and his family. (http://cbs2chicago.com/topstories/local_story_192070830.html) The source is the husband of a missing woman, whose disappearance is the story Jacobson and other reporters have been following. The socializing — Jacobson, with her children, wearing swimwear, at the source’s house — became more unusual when a competing station surreptitiously taped Jacobson. Never mind the other station’s somewhat vague explanation of its secret taping session (http://www.wbbm780.com/pages/680195.php). Or the station’s reasoning that the tape only became newsworthy when other media outlets planned to write about it. (Peer pressure is at the top of the news judgment checklist?) What puzzled me the most was Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn’s steadfast defense of Jacobson, alleging that only gender bias cost her her job. He has said that a man wearing a bathing suit at a source’s home swimming pool would have been congratulated, not pilloried. I disagree with the premise that all good journalists hang out with sources to schmooze them up, at any which hour, with kids or not, in the name of rapport-building, or that good journalists should. Reporters build trust with sources by treating them fairly, clearly outlining what’s on the record and what’s not, listening carefully, double-checking comments, clarifying facts and context, and so on – practicing good, honest, straightforward journalism. This other world of clubbiness and friendships in off hours might be practiced by some, but at the expense, I think, of ethical boundaries that safeguard the perception that we’re not in anyone’s corner. And there’s more… It turns out that Jacobson also reported to the police department some things the source told her, just so the police can stay informed, too. Jacobson has said she made a mistake, but I wonder if she understands what the real mistakes were.