March 11, 2008

BREAKING NEWS: Denouement

This is what seems to be the final round of postings concerning the student newspaper.

Editor's Note: The following appeared on the JCCClist and are not private e-mail conversations.

I don’t watch the news a couple times a day. I never watch the news. It’s sensationalist, biased garbage and I don’t feel the lack of it. I don’t like to invade other people’s privacy and see their problems aired in front of the world. I think the people at the service at Ward Parkway for the people that were killed had the right idea in keeping the media away from the service. Watching other people’s hardships is like stopping at a train wreck to see what we can see. Apparently it’s human nature to want to watch the suffering of others, but I find it distasteful. Look at our television – all those horrid reality shows where we watch people argue and fight with each other, or watch them reveal truths and embarrass others in a public forum. It’s disgraceful.

It takes all kinds, and I know some people enjoy always knowing the “whys” of every situation. I personally don’t think what happened to this girl is any of my business. Perhaps if the story were about how the campus responded and how we can make the response system better, then that’s a different matter. But finding out why she got on the bus rather than waiting for her dad? What does that have to do with me, and why is it my business?

Why can’t we have good reporting without sticking cameras and microphones into people’s faces who are suffering from some personal tragedy and asking them inane questions, like “How do you feel about your daughter’s death?” I mean really now.

A previous poster who asked about creating a prayer group at the college added:
Our family has been a victim of the news media. My 2 year old nephew died of the flu in 2003, in Chicago. It has to be, still, the most painful, heart wrenching experience ever. He died on a Monday morning, the media was calling my sister's house till midnight that day. And on Tuesday when we woke up, they had the house surrounded. They were questioning neighbors (who didn't know anything), and his school. The news media couldn't even report the story of his death right. And above that they were everywhere, the funeral, the memorial, everywhere. We had no privacy to grieve. Since then I have lost a lot of trust with the media.

My only suggestion to current & future journalists is, if you are going to report a story, do it with integrity, and honesty. Do not do it for the "Shock Value". There is a fine line in what we need to know & peoples privacy. They are dealing with real people's lives, & I think human value sometimes has been cast aside for the "scoop" or "deadline". So just put yourself in the victim's family shoes, and then decide if a story needs to be run or not.
A computer lab assistant offers his view:

101 Ethics Of Journalism: Some Suggestions

I think this animated discussion highlights why there should be a mandatory class in Journalism focused strongly on “Ethics Of Journalism”. A student undertaking this field should complete this suggested course before completion of the major/certificate/degree in Journalism and Media Communications. Such a class at JCCC would be innovative and improve offerings in an already vibrant well thought out curriculum The entire student staff of The Ledger should also be required to have completed this course before assuming their duties.

As forms of mass communication, become ubiquitous and more adversarial in questioning the central concepts of the individual’s rights for privacy. Journalism can only improve in this situation because of the consumer’s demand to be ethical informed and likewise a fair balancing of the rights of those being portrayed within the media in an objective human way.

Much of the problems of the information revolution is an inability to make ethical or reasonable use of the data. We improve our technologies but not our ethical responsibility to our fellow citizens.

I can only hope that this little incident can bring about change and understanding of ethical behavior for those self- describing “truth seekers” A grounding in Journalism’s profession ethical core can only strengthen a fine program.

Platitudes are not sufficient reasons for violating student privacy. Ones ethical options should be well thought out and based on common respect and the professionalism. An understanding of the industries best practices and the current law can only be instructive in this area.

I think that as a educational community this impasse of philosophical difference allows us to strengthen our outreach and improve aspects of our mission critical beliefs, in support of both transparency and the protection of student privacy .

Just the musing of a observer. … Now please play nice….

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