Monday, October 5, 2015

To be or not to be?

T.L. Schilling

In a world of what have you done for me lately; it becomes clear that journalists strive to remain in the forefront of the people. Whether one is going for a coveted editor job at a major newspaper or maybe an anchor position at a major T.V. affiliate, lines seem to be crossed. Of course, the real question at hand would be who defines those lines?

                                       A sign at the scene of the Newtown, Conn. shooting 

I don’t like the fact that journalists or any news media personnel, can use the excuse of; “If I don’t do it, someone else will” as justification behind some of their acts of irresponsible reporting. Journalists have moral obligations not only to those they are reporting to, but for those they are reporting about too. Keeping in line with the SPJ Code of Ethics, the section entitled Minimize Harm and its points are of particular interest in cases such as school shootings;
  • Show compassion for those adversely affected by said tragedy. 
  • Be sensitive when seeking interviews or photographs of victims.
  • Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance.
  • Only an overriding public need can justify intrusion into anyone’s privacy.
  • Show good taste. Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity.
  • Be cautious about identifying victims.
Most journalists do the job that they do because they have a true appreciation for being the voice of those who cannot be heard. The vast majority want to do the right things in the right manner for the right reasons. One such article, aptly titled ‘Vultures or Reporters’? makes it clear that most reporters know going into a situation such as a school shooting that they are going to have to endure public scrutiny, but what is the alternative?

Social media has changed the way that news gets circulated anymore. Whether someone is Tweeting the situation live or pictures end up on FaceBook in real time, it is instantaneous and often times with little or no regard to the victims or situation. If it is done by someone other than the media, you probably will not hear the same outcries, if any at all, but ignorance is no excuse.

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