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Ethicist Calls On Journalists to Question the Biking Vogels
From:
Jack Marshall -- ProEthics, Ltd. Jack Marshall -- ProEthics, Ltd.
Alexandria , VA
Tuesday, September 07, 2010


Ethicist Jack Marshall
 
       

Ethics trainer and consultant Jack Marshall has called upon the media to meet its journalistic duty by subjecting the so-called "Biking Vogels," who were featured on a Labor Day segment of the morning talk show "Good Morning America", to probing questions about the welfare of their children. The president of ProEthics, a national ethics consulting and training firm, criticized GMA for its negligence.

Said Marshall: "There is considerable evidence, based on the family's own postings on their 'Family on Bikes' web site, that the safety and health of Nancy and John Vogel's twin 12-year-old boys are being jeopardized while the adults use their sons' forced participation in a four year bike trek to attract publicity, contributions, and the possible reality show."

John and Nancy Vogel have been engaged in nearly perpetual biking trips since 2007, along with their twin boys, Daryl and Davy. The couple has funded their four year journeys from Alaska to Argentine with online contributions, based on their representation of their lifestyle as an adventure in homeschooling.

Marshall, who lectures and writes about ethics across the country, was contacted by concerned members of the public who have followed Nancy Vogel's web journal of the families travels and fear for the safety and welfare of their boys. After reading journal entries and consulting with psychologists and child development experts, Marshall called upon GMA and host George Stephanopoulos to eschew the expected puff piece and ask the parents tough questions about their motives, the safety of their children, and whether a never-ending bicycle trip is a responsible way to raise children.  But the "Good Morning America" segment featured a holiday stand-in gushing about the Vogels as video taken and chosen by the family showed on the screen

 

In a post on his ethics commentary blog, Ethics Alarms (www.ethicsalarms.com), Marshall writes: "Before the Vogels make America complicit in what may be the exploitation of their children, it would be reasonable and prudent to have them examined by competent professionals to ensure that the boys are as happy, healthy well-educated and well-adjusted as the family claim."

Among the questions he suggests that future interviewers ask the parents:



•    What do your children eat on a typical day on the road?

•    How much educational material do you carry with you on the bicycles?

•    How much actual schooling do they get?

•    Do they have any friends?

•    How much time do they get to spend by themselves?

•    Will the bike trips ever stop? When? What will the family do then?

•    How much does the family get in contributions?

•    How is it spent?

•    Do the boys have regular dental check-ups? Medical check-ups?

•    If one or both twins announced that they were sick of biking, would it make a difference?


And most important of all: Will you allow your children to be interviewed by a child psychologist not hired by you, as well as a child welfare specialist? And if not, why not?

"It is possible that the boys are healthy, well-educated, happy, and that Nancy and John Vogel are just as dedicated and responsible parents as they want America to think they are," says Marshall.

"It is also possible that they are using their children as a means to fame, fortune and celebrity, and that the boys will suffer for it. The media and child protection agencies in states the Vogels travel through have an ethical obligation to find out which is the truth, and not just pave the road to another child-exploiting TV reality show."

 
Jack Marshall
President
ProEthics, Ltd.
Alexandria, VA
703-548-5229