Responsible journalism

We now have all heard and wept over the atrocious happenings in Connecticut. I became angry, almost straight away, at the news media and their inconsiderate and inaccurate reporting.

I have a degree in contemporary media/journalism and I am appalled at the way this horrible action was handled. I actually got out of television reporting when the news director where I worked asked me to change the “spin” of my story because the truth would hurt a county supervisor. Even though the story was accurate and backed with facts, my story was scrapped because it would not look good in that community. When the news director threw me under the bus I decided it was time to leave.

A sister company’s news director came to our station for a review of our stories and that director did not like the approach to a story (that my news director set up). My director blamed me and then after the meeting, he apologized in private telling me that he was not going to take the blame; nice boss! I found a new job that week end!

Why is our society so obsessed with having to have information NOW? Would it not be better to have accurate information instead of hearing information and then having to correct yourself 5 times when the facts are actually established? I just don’t get it!

My daughter came home from school today saying that one teacher told her the killing was done in Pennsylvania to 4th and 5th graders and that 26 were killed. Another teacher told her it was in Connecticut, kindergarteners and 26 children were dead. First I heard a 20-year-old had done the shooting and then within 20 minutes the news “confirmed” that the shooter was 24 years old. My husband tells me later that the 24-year-old was named and the report had to be retracted because the person named was the brother of the 20-year-old shooter. So not only does this 24-year-old victim of the press have to deal with a slanderous accusation, he has to deal with the death of his mother and the acts of his brother and the brother’s suicide.

When did being a journalist mean getting the fastest news out and to hell with accuracy! I would rather be known as a reporter that is accurate in reporting than quick. You can report on the news facts that you have and as the story develops, report the additional facts.

How many parents found out about the shooting on the news? How many feared for the lives of their children without having accurate facts? I feel for these families and I pray for everyone that is involved – the families, the police, the paramedics, the whole community.

And it is not just this story; it is people who think that they have a right to any information out there – be it national security, the health of our political leaders, the true color of a celebrities hair. Sometimes it is best to not know and to let people do their jobs and sometimes in private and in secret. I am not saying that we shouldn’t be aware but I do not need to know what our country is doing about the problems in North Korea. If we tell all, what we know, what we want to know, then we have no security; we have told the world everything and that cannot be good or smart.

While listening to commentators on the shooting, there was a person that said that things like this will always happen when people have ‘reality tv” and “Facebook”. What does Facebook have to do with this shooting? In the same discussion a female reporter says, “It has been confirmed that this is not a Jihad. This was a single incident.” I never thought that it was anything but a crazy person but now this reporter has put the thought in everyone’s mind that there was a thought it was a Muslim attack. When this man talked about reality tv or Facebook, my thought was that we should look at the news media and their culpability in reporting inaccurately.

I agree that there is too much violence on the news and in television programs and reality tv. Because people think they need it does not mean they should get it. They think that they need it because it was given to them once and now it is like a drug and they just can’t say no. As I have said before, “It is hard to close Pandora’s Box.” When it used to be that there should be no swearing on television, actors and people on the street can get away with saying frickin’ or sh** or other words. I think the only thing not allowed is using the Lord’s Name in vain. I hope that never becomes acceptable.

I have had this opinion for many years. But today set me off when there were so many discrepancies in the stories that were being reported over the many news stations. I know that this should be about mourning the loss of life but I just can’t get out of my head all of the people who have been hurt, had their lives ruined (or lost like the nurse who committed suicide after the London hospital incident with Princess Kate)

We never know how what we say or write can affect others. We never know how stable, or unstable, a person is until something traumatic happens. We never know when a simple prank may end up in the person ending their life for whatever reason. I am not against simple pranks but I think the British Press went too far in reporting about Jacintha Saldahna.

Why can’t we be careful in what we say and how we say it and make sure that what we say or write is accurate? When will those stupid reporter’s ever get it through their head that you do not ask a parent how they feel when they have just lost their young child? Let me give them that answer…”They are devastated and their life will never be the same.” Be a little sensitive; being a reporter does not mean being insensitive. Be a good reporter and be accurate and be careful because the  people who you report on or speak with have emotions and may not need to have their information shared right then.

God Bless those families and may God keep them enfolded in His loving arms.


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