A journalist has been accused of logging into other media outlets’ Zoom calls in order to learn about their responses to the coronavirus pandemic.
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Mark Di Stefano, a reporter with the Financial Times, allegedly entered meetings held over the video conferencing app by the Independent and the Evening Standard.
Stefano, according to the Independent, brazenly joined the meeting by using his work email address. This caused Stefano’s name to appear on the call, although his camera remained disabled.
The journalist reportedly joined for 16 seconds before logging out but returned soon after by logging in with his phone number.
Not long after the call, Stefano sent out a series of tweets describing topics that the Independent says were discussed during the staff meeting.
Stefano described information on everything from pay cuts to the outlet’s issues with falling ad revenue.
Questions have since been raised over whether Stefano’s actions were ethically appropriate.
Christian Broughton, an editor for the Independent, argued in a statement to the Guardian that Stefano’s decision was “inappropriate” and “unwarranted.”
“We respect freedom of speech and understand the challenges of news gathering, but the Independent considers the presence of a third-party journalist in a staff briefing to be entirely inappropriate and an unwarranted intrusion into our employees’ privacy,” said Broughton. “Our spokesperson had a full statement prepared for the press. Any interested reporters only needed to call and ask.”
A spokesperson for the Evening Standard likewise described the reporter’s actions as “unacceptable.”
“For a journalist from the FT to have illegitimately accessed a private Zoom call is unacceptable,” the spokesperson said. “We are sure the FT will want to offer an immediate explanation and an apology.”
While both media outlets have been outspoken in their displeasure with Stefano, the journalist himself has remained tight-lipped. In fact, Stefano has not tweeted since April 25, and, according to Gizmodo, may have been suspended by the Financial Times for the incident.
Stefano also received widespread ridicule online for entering both meetings without making any attempts to conceal his identity.
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