Red Tape

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Unusual crime attracts people's attention for both good and bad reasons. It's good because people want to know what is going on in their communities, but in a way it's bad because part of the interest in crime stories is because people are attracted to the drama surrounding crime. It's even reflected in the TV shows people want to watch in their free time, such as CSI, etc.

But, as this web page reminds us, the crime is more than the details of what the suspect did. The victim is more than just six letters of black ink included in the details. The vicitim (or victims) has a name, a family, a life. Many of us brought this point up when we were discussing the bus plunge stories. Those stories were desired by newspapers to help fill up space, but there were people on board who lost their lives and people else where who lost relatives on those buses.

Crime reporting seems a little difficult to deal with in general. It seems like you have to be very careful about how you word things and about dancing around the privacy rights of the victim as well as the suspect. I didn't realize there would be so many fine lines we would be walking with this subject.

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2 Comments

Dianna Griffin said:

I also did not realize that there were so many fine lines in crime reporting. However, I did notice the similarities between crime reporting and writing an obituary. When I wrote an obituary recently, I had to be careful that I didn't write anything that would offend the deceased, or the deceased's family. It is important to show respect to the victims.

Also, I agree with you on your claim about the bus plunge stories. As humurous as I may find it to be that newspapers use bus plunge stories to fill space, there are still victims that are involved with that story. By printing a story that is offensive in any way to those victims is disrespectful. The victims deserve respect.

Katie Vann said:

You made a good comparison between crime reporting and the obituary writing. I didn't even think about it, but the most difficult part about writing them is trying to keep respect in mind. When we first began looking at how to write a crime story, I found it easy to word my article to where I was giving respect to the victim. However, I found it difficult to give respect towards the accused, not because of what they had done, but more without thinking about how I was wording what I was reporting. For example, I would easily have used the word suspect in my article if we hadn't learned why to avoid it and "alleged" never would have appeared in my writing, which as a crime reporter would have gotten me into a lot of trouble.

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