Thoughts on the News: Are We Trading Ethics for Ratings?

“If it bleeds, it leads…”

As long as there has been news to report, there has been conflict of individual privacy versus the people’s right to know. Often times, people have lost their right to privacy due to a heinous crime they’ve committed or if they are a risk to their communities, such as sex offenders, rapists, those with assault charges, etc.

But there are times in the media where I see journalism outlets sharing information that could (and often times should) be left out of story, but satisfies their audiences need to know. Plenty of families have lost loved once in tragic accidents, where there is no law broken or malicious intent and would not do a disservice to the community if it was not reported on. But in the recent news, local and even national news outlets have been sharing, what I feel, is too much information about families who deserve their privacy and respect.

A great example of this is the child that was attacked by an alligator and was later found dead in a lake at Walt Disney World. The reports were horrific and the world certainly needed to be made aware of what happened. But as soon as photos of the little boy surfaced, that family’s privacy was shattered.

Another similar example was the death of the 5 year old boy at the Sundial in Downtown Atlanta. While reporting the truth of the case is the duty of a responsible journalist, sharing the photos a minor seem insensitive and a complete invasion of a grieving family’s privacy.

Journalist have a duty to report the truth, but also have an ethical duty to protect the citizens of their communities. And all too often I see a failure to protect those who are the most vulnerable.


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