Category Archives: Weighing Benefits and Harm

Reporting On Hostage Situations

Media told to stay out of hostage situations: Michael Williams reports on a TV station’s Facebook contacts with gunman who kills four children and himself.

“The best practice is to report the situation from a distance,” says an ethics expert.

 

Advertisements

Suicide Coverage Best Practices

Suicide coverage best practices: Kelly McBride reports that the deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain prompt a look at best practices in reporting on suicide.

Suicide is not a natural or logical outcome of adversity, she writes. “Instead, include a message of hope: Recovery is possible. In fact, most people who think about suicide do recover.”

Doubts About AP Poll Guide

Doubts about AP poll guide: David W. Moore casts doubts on new chapter in the AP stylebook on reporting election poll results.

“My sense is that however well intentioned, they will have little effect on how much coverage is given to polls,” he writes. “As superficial as it might be, we all want to know who’s winning the horse race.”

 

Small Newspaper, Big Punch

Asbury Park Press, a small newspaper known for big exposes, writes Matthew Kassel.

Its chief of news and investigations says every big project needs three components: A human element (for pathos), a new finding (preferably unearthed through public records requests) and a solution or two (for purposes of accountability).

Shunning Hacked Emails

The case for shunning hacked emails: Nathaniel Zelinsky calls for a “responsible journalism pledge” to prevent Russian from meddling in U.S. elections.

“Most reporters distance themselves from questions about the origin of information, so long as it remains verifiable, while tech companies tend to believe no one should restrict access to information on the internet,” he writes. “But at this particularly dangerous point in our nation’s history, reporters and Facebook alike just might be willing to embrace a new ethical obligation out of a sense of civic duty.”

Interviewing Traumatized Women

The ethics of interviewing traumatized women: Zahera Harb says journalists often add to their suffering.

“Seeking informed consent in such cases is crucial,” she writes. “But before asking Yazidi women to give consent to these stories being recorded and disseminated, journalists should have informed them about how, where and when their stories would be published or broadcast.”

 

Shootings Changing Education Beat

Post Florida mass shooting: Alexandria Neason says pay more attention to local reports of shootings and bomb threats, which are shifting education coverage.

“For local reporters working the education beat, local threats have dominated their attention the past few weeks, even if they’ve only been a blip on the national radar…,” she writes.

Profiling Killers Or Victims?

Profiling killers or victims?

Russell Frank writes that mental health professionals urge journalists to focus less on the perpetrators of shooting rampages and more on the victims.

“The question that arises with every mass shooting is whether these instant illustrated profiles of the killers do more harm than good,” he writes.

Good News Vs. Bad News

On the whole, the world is getting better, writes Bill Gates, Time Magazine’s first-ever guest editor.

“To some extent, it is good that bad news gets attention,” he writes. “If you want to improve the world, you need something to be mad about. But it has to be balanced by upsides. When you see good things happening, you can channel your energy into driving even more progress.”

Bad news arrives as drama while good news is incremental — and not usually deemed newsworthy, he writes.