Category Archives: Journalism

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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Ethics, Morality and the Law: A Discussion on September 11

Ali Muhammed Khan, Virginia Commonwealth University

The events of September eleventh, 2001 had an indelible effect on the American national psyche, for the cultural, historical, and societal significance of the event, as well as the literally continuous media coverage of it, contribute to the permanence of this event in American history. The media?s role in creating this etching onto the American collective consciousness cannot be ignored. The media has a necessity to cover the events that are occurring as they occur; the means which the media utilized in order to achieve its ends, however, by using graphic images of the attacks, were not at a similar level of necessity. By applying various ethical principles and media values to the coverage, one finds that the ethical decision behind the ultimate coverage of the event appears unethical when compared to the public?s reaction to it . Further examination of this apparent conflict of interest finds that the media?s loyalties? monetary and otherwise ? were to blame for such unbalanced coverage. Thus, while the images of destruction and chaos have become ingrained into all Americans who lived to see the events of September eleventh, it is unfortunate that these images are also symbolic of the damaged relationship of American media with its audience ? as well as of the proverbial fraying of the American societal fabric itself.

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Ethics and Sensationalism in the Realm of Scientific and Medical Reporting

Jennifer Habermann, University of St. Thomas

Prior to July 17, 2002, the media released information on the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) hormone replacement therapy (HRT) trial which was formally published and released on July 17, 2002, in the Journal of the American Medical Association. This study analyzed the ethics, sensationalism, and implications of such reporting. A formal content analysis was conducted using 36 articles from the Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Rochester Post-Bulletin, St. Paul Pioneer Press, and USA Today. The data from the content analysis revealed that there was no significant difference between the accuracy of the articles prematurely released by the press and the articles that proceeded the release of the information contained in the WHI study. Coding factual data revealed that 19.4% of the articles scored above average. The total coding of factual content was lowest in USA Today at 75 points (range 0-180), but the USA Today had the highest total coding of sources at 86.5 (range 0-120). Six females (ages 38-61) participated in a focus group and reported that factual content was most important. The coverage of this HRT trial was sensational. The issues to the public were compounded by the unethical premature release of information of the study results

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