The Ethics of Crime Reporting
Richelle’s blog made me consider several things. First, it made me think about the victim’s voice. In most instances that I can think of, the victim is quoted. Unless the victim is a minor or the victim wishes to remain anonymous because of the sensitive nature of the situation, they generally are given their chance to speak. Quoting the victim is certainly a good way to add a humanistic spin to the story. It makes it all seem more real, more possible, like it could happen to us. So in this sense, it makes the victim’s point of view essential to one’s story. Yet, on the other hand, some of the responses left by Derek and April pointed out a very important detail. Sometimes the victims will want to be left unknown and this got me thinking, even when they are known, there is a certain degree of care which reporters must proceed when dealing with victims. Whatever happened to them could be very upsetting, not only must one keep this in mind when interviewing them, but one should keep this in mind when choosing quotes. Perhaps something they said would be a wonderful addition to your article; however, what are the implications to including it? Is it going to cause a lot of pain and suffering to them that otherwise would not have happened? There are a lot of ethical implications involved in this type of reporting.
On the other side, I think it would be irresponsible of a reporter to only consider the victim. There are two sides to every story. The “accused” is innocent until proven guilty. No one knows for sure whether they did what they are accused of or not. Even if they did it, maybe there are extenuating circumstances. Maybe they didn’t realize the gun was loaded, maybe they were protecting themselves. As in any other news story, it is a reporter’s job to present all sides of the story—this includes victims, the accused, and police.