The Issue of Ethics in Tragic Events Coverage

Tetyana Vorozhko, Ohio University

Natural disasters, technological catastrophes and splashes of violence compose a prominent part of Mass Media content. The purpose of this work is to analyze the way the decisions were made about coverage of tragic events; the opinions expressed and to work out a set of rules, helpful while covering tragic events. The cases scrutinized are a suicide committed by Pennsylvania Treasurer Budd Dwyer (1987), a shooting of prisoner by Vietnamese general (1968) and plane catastrophe at aviation show in Ukraine (2002). The arguments in support for and against showing tragic on TV are debated. Violation of right of privacy, offending of people?s feelings and taste are contradicting to broadcasting horrible details on TV. Among the arguments for showing tragic events is the public right to know about real life, the argument of serious problems in society and mobilization of population. The impact of external factors such as other TV channels, movies and ?angry viewers? is examined. The author applies moral theories and Codes of Ethics of professional journalist organizations. The conclusion states that tragic events have to be shown, but in moderation. The result of this work constitutes the set of rules designed to help while making decision about coverage, shooting and editing tragic events.

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