Sunday, October 11, 2015

Where do we draw the line?

Julie Weller

In today's world, technology allows everyone to participate as journalists. Well, we ask- what exactly does this mean for actual journalists? Do journalists rush to get the breaking story out immediately before taking the time to fact check their information? If they do get the facts wrong on social media, is this as big of a deal as getting the facts wrong in a print version?

"Crime coverage now requires constantly feeding the beast" discusses this exact dilemma today's journalists face. Today, there is an urgency to release breaking crime news to the public before someone else does.

Journalists today work by the minute instead of the story, and oftentimes, it's common for journalists to send out tweets and blogs without a read-over by an editor.

So what happens when the facts are wrong? Does the urgency of the story make these mistakes forgivable? What happens when all of the facts are wrong?

As the article mentioned, many facts related to initial tweets and stories about the Sandy Hook Elementary school shootings were wrong. The article "9 Things the Media Got Wrong about the Sandy Hook Shooting" explains how a lot of the initial information about the shooting was wrong, including how the shooter was initially misidentified as his brother.

What are the consequences of getting facts like this wrong on social media? How hard would it have been to check these facts before publishing what was probably just a rumor?

from 9 Things the Media Got Wrong about the Sandy Hook Shooting

Something else to consider mentioned in the article "How the Media Treated Me" is how soon is too soon for the media to approach family members and victim of a crime? Often times, victims who lost loved ones are swarmed for quotes for a story within hours of the crime occurring. Journalists can be persistent to the point where something extremely personal is turned into something very public.

When I think of tragedy within a community and news coverage that followed immediately after, I think of the Ariel Castro Kidnapping, since this occurred only an hour and a half from my hometown.

In May of 2013, it was discovered that three girls who went missing 10 years earlier, had been kept in the home of Ariel Castro against their will, until one day, there was finally an opportunity to escape. 

This event was all over the news, especially on my home TV station since we get local Cleveland channels. With such a sensitive and emotional occurrence, I remember how I was relieved that the media respected the three girls who weren't ready to go public with their story until almost a year later in this article (along with others).

After spending 10 years locked in a house and taking abuse, the last thing the three girls needed was to be swarmed by the media, probing them for questions. Initial coverage of the incident included live scene by scene at Castro's house and interviews with neighbors.

I remember watching reporters stand outside of the victim's homes, trying to catch a glimpse of the girls once they returned home with their families. In my opinion, moments like that are too precious to involve the media.

After hearing the stories of crime victims who were harassed by journalists looking to get their story in, I know that my own personal values would get in the way if I was pressured to do the same as a journalist. I think that it varies depending on each case, but sometimes, it's truly best to let things heal a bit before approaching crime victims and family members. There are always other ways to tell the story.

No comments:

Post a Comment