From BaltimoreSun.com: Police cancel TV show after station fails to turn in suspect. A fugitive walks into a tv station… Nope, there’s no punch line. He just walked back out a few minutes later. As a result, the Baltimore Police Department canceled its crime-busting partnership with that station. This raises some questions.
Should someone at the station have notified lawmen that the wanted man was in their building? Some would argue that it’s not the journalists’ job to police their community: They should be silent observers/storytellers of life as it unfolds. It’s up to the cops to catch the guy. Others would argue making the call would simply be the right thing to do. Which is the greater good?
Does a working affiliation with law enforcement or others we are supposed to watch compromise our ability to watch them? That wasn’t the case here, but it seems to me that such a partnership could interfere with objectivity. As journalists, where do we draw the line on cooperative efforts? Should we be hands off, period? Or do efforts that can benefit the community allow for such close contact? Is this ever/never a good idea?
From ArkansasBusiness.com: KARK Defends Social Media Strategy. Following the death of a child, KARK-TV sent viewers to the KARK Facebook page to “like” a post about the boy. They were led to believe these “likes” would send thoughts and prayers to the family. Not so. To me, this was unethical. To others, it allowed for an expression of sympathy (thought it went nowhere.) What do you think?
From The New York Times: NBC Fires Producer of Misleading Zimmerman Tape The producer in question is said to have knowledge that a 9-1-1 call was edited to suggest a very different bent to George Zimmerman’s conversation with a dispatcher. I am a firm believer that editors and those who work with them do not ever have the right to alter reality via the editing process. In this case, just a few more seconds of air time granted to the story would have allowed the audience to hear the true context of the conversation. But, instead, a producer is out of a job and NBC is apologizing for the edit. This is a good lesson in keeping it real folks, even if it means allowing a few extra seconds of airtime for an important story.
From Advancing the Story: Should Journalists Be Sneaky? This blog entry doesn’t answer any big ethical questions but does offer a bit of food for thought on the subject of full disclosure. It refers to an example of a journalist pretending to have knowledge that was really just a guess. What would you do?