Journalism and Ethics

I was shocked to see that so many reporters basically forced their way into the home that belonged to the suspects of the San Bernardino shooting. However, there seems to be a lot of misinformation about whether or not the landlord actually gave them permission to enter or not.┬áRegardless, it’s a little much when a reporter uses a crowbar to remove the plywood covering the front door.

Looking at the SPJ Code of Ethics, I found a two specific examples of ethics that these reporters seemed to violate. One was “recognize that legal access to information differs from an ethical justification to publish or broadcast.” Even if the reporters were legally allowed enter the home, since it was broadcasted live, it was hard to ethically justify that. The other example that I think is most applicable is “avoid pandering to lurid curiosity, even if others do.” Stories about this say that up to 100 reporters were inside the house. I think an ethically responsible journalists would have stayed outside, even though everyone else went in.

I found an article from the Los Angeles Times that criticized the media about this. It was interesting that a legal analyst for CNN was discussing how it was wrong for the media to do this, and on the other half of the screen, CNN reporters were going through the house. In my opinion, the fact that this was done on live television made a big difference.

After┬áreading the story that Dr. Jerz gave us about a shooting survivor, I think journalists should be more focused on the victims than the suspects. That story made more of an impact, and that’s what journalists should strive for.


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