Breaking News! A high ranking executive with well known Bryan-College Station television station was arrested early this morning on drug possession charges.
Ok, so that really didn’t happen, at least to our knowledge. And, it wouldn’t really be “news” if it did. At least that’s what we think. That’s why we don’t believe it is ethical to report on the misdemeanors of private individuals.
This is actually a rare opinion piece. Our second ever. The first was also in response to a story we believed to be irresponsible and harmful to both the private citizens the “news outlet” chose to shame for clicks as well as to the image of journalism as a profession.
It is our opinion that misdemeanors of private citizens don’t belong all over the local news outlets. The public shaming of non public figures happens far too frequently in BCS. It’s like normal people have TMZ reporting on their every mis-step.
We are asking our fellow media outlets to please make our community better and kinder by adhering to the Code of Ethics published by Society of Professional Journalists, paying special attention to the following excerpted principles:
Ethical journalism treats sources, subjects, colleagues and members of the public as human beings deserving of respect.
– Balance the public’s need for information against potential harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance or undue intrusiveness.
– Recognize that legal access to information differs from an ethical justification to publish or broadcast.
– Realize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than public figures and others who seek power, influence or attention. Weigh the consequences of publishing or broadcasting personal information.
– Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity, even if others do.
– Balance a suspect’s right to a fair trial with the public’s right to know. Consider the implications of identifying criminal suspects before they face legal charges.
– Consider the long-term implications of the extended reach and permanence of publication. Provide updated and more complete information as appropriate.