Tag Archives: journalism ethics

Should the video of Walter Scott’s murder have been posted online?

Posted by Emily VanSchmus

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On Tuesday, April 7, Walter Scott was pulled over in North Charleston, South Carolina for a broken tail light. Half an hour later, he was dead.

Scott was shot eight times by North Charleston Michael T. Slager and remained facedown on the ground without any medical attention for several minutes before he was pronounced dead. The video of his death was posted online by The New York Times later that evening.

Slager was charged with murder that evening, although he claimed Scott had stolen his taser and he feared for his life. The video shows the officer picking up what could be a taser from a few yards away and placing it near Scott’s body.

The question at hand is whether the video should have been posted on the internet. On one hand, it shows a human losing their life, which can be insensitive to family and friends as well as hard to watch. On the other hand, there was so confusion around the recent Ferguson shooting because no one actually knew what happened. A video like this could stop the public from speculating and let them see what actually happened.

I stumbled across the article late Tuesday night after it popped up on my ‘suggested news’ section on Facebook. I wanted to read the article, so I opened the page on the Times website. I saw a video at the top of the page, and it had been a long day, so I figured I could just watch the newscast about the event rather than reading a long article.

Immediately, my screen showed a young black man running from a police officer as the officer shot him several times. I was shocked – I had not planned to watch a man die right in front of me and didn’t feel that I was well informed about what the video would actually show. I wondered if the Times would remove the video or change the way it was presented, but as of 5:00 Wednesday evening they had not.

Poynter published an article Wednesday morning stating that posting the video was justified. It was also released that the bystander who filmed the incident gave the video footage to Scott’s family, who gave it to their lawyer, who then gave it to the Times.

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The missing side to every story

By:Claudia Williams

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Last month, Rolling Stone released an article “A Rape on Campus: A brutal assault and struggle for justice at UVA.” It was about a violent rape that occurred on a college campus fraternity in 2012. Due to the touchy nature of the subject, the victim Jackie, asked the writer of the story, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, to refrain from speaking with her attackers and to keep names private. When the story was published, it made worldwide headlines and put the fraternity and campus into question.

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Journalism Solutions: A New Reporting Style

Photo courtesy of Sabestien Wiertz

Photo courtesy of Flickr Sabestien Wiertz

My media law professor asked students in the class if we thought journalism was ethical. Approximately 60 students were in the lecture hall. Five people raised their hand, and I wasn’t one of them. I wrestled with this for a while after the class. Although I don’t think journalism is completely unethical, I agreed with many students that said journalism focuses too much on sensationalism, ratings, and negative problems.

I started perusing the Twitter chat, #muckedup, and discovered a discussion on Solutions Journalism, a style of reporting that explores social issues and explains credible responses to them. Continue reading

What’s considered celebrity news?

By: Maggie Dickman

I do not necessarily think of news when I see these headlines:

Ashton Kutcher & Mila Kunis Jacked Their Baby’s Name From Tiger’s #1 Ex-Mistress??

Jennifer Lopez Tapes American Idol In Two Revealing Dresses: See the Sexy Looks!

Amanda Bynes’ Bizarre Behavior at LAX: Troubled Actress Talks to Herself, Puts on Makeup While Dining Solo

Celebrities are the center of popular culture, and their lives are shared everyday on celebrity news and gossip sites. But, what really constitutes “news?”

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Emergency Ethics

It’s midnight, deadline is at 9 a.m. Your article has carried you into a gray area of ethical ambiguity. The internet doesn’t have every answer and your editor won’t answer your calls. Now what? Since 1996 the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) has hosted a 24 hour Ethics Hotline and with a new revised code, as of this month, they’re out to remind the world that their resource still exists.

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Anonymous Sources and Pseudonyms in Journalism

Posted by Marissa Mumford

The Washington Post recently published the gripping struggles of a sexually assaulted war veteran. Per her request, the source is identified only by her middle name, Diana. “Diana” pretends all is well while secretly accumulating doctor’s visits and battling stress and paranoia.

Credit to Leland Francisco, licensed under Creative Commons

Diana was viciously brutalized and hasn’t shared her story with family or friends. It isn’t the Washington Post’s job to make her pain known to the world. I understand that. Ethically, it feels right. But from a journalistic point of view, is this okay? If a prestigious news source is going to publish a lengthy piece on sexual abuse in the armed forces, shouldn’t the source be entirely verifiable?

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