Monday, January 02, 2006

News Media: Ethic Guidelines Provided by the US Department of Justice

The following was emailed to me, and is from Vicki Polin
The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.Journalism Ethics : Philosophical Foundations for News Media


Over the past decade, coverage of crime and victimization has drastically changed. For example, in 1985, footage of bodies and/or body bags on national networks elicited organized outcries from victim advocates across the nation. Today, such footage is commonplace. The volatile issue of identifying victims of sexual assault in the media has been debated and analyzed from both victim advocacy and First Amendment perspectives, with little consensus from either side of the argument.

However, the past fifteen years have also witnessed an increase in media professionals who seek sensitivity training from crime victims and advocates so that they can accurately cover crime stories with the least amount of trauma to the victim. Today, crime victims and service providers offer training programs to newsrooms, professional journalism associations, and university-level journalism classes about media sensitivity in addressing violence and victimization.

Journalists who cover crime beats are also affected by the scope and demands of their jobs. Those who cover the horror and degradation of violence on a regular basis have few outlets for the personal trauma they must endure. As such, there is high demand for a protocol to "debrief" journalists whose assignments include regular coverage of violence."


The most comprehensive written policy on ethical considerations affecting journalists, including those affecting crime victims, was developed by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 1992. In the sensitive introduction to its "Guidelines on Privacy Issues," the following guiding statement was made:

As we consider the policies that will best serve the Post-Dispatch.

The news media should--
  1. Present details about a crime in a fair, objective, and balanced manner.
  2. Recognize the importance of publishing or broadcasting information that can contribute to public safety and, at the same time, balance this need with the victim's need for privacy.
  3. Respect the privacy of individuals who choose to refrain from dealing with the media or who choose to address the media through a spokesperson of their choice.
  4. Provide a balanced perspective relevant to a criminal act that reflects the concerns of the victim and offender.
  5. Never report rumors or innuendoes about the victim, the offender, or the crime unless such information has been verified by reliable sources.
  6. In crimes other than homicide, identify the victim by age and area where the crime occurs, omitting street addresses and block numbers.
  7. Refrain from using information gained from private conversations of victims or their relatives who are in shock or distraught.
  8. Identify witnesses only when they volunteer to be named, and when there is clearly no danger that can be predicted through their identification by the media.
  9. Never publish the identity of a sexual assault victim without his or her prior consent, regardless of whether the case is in the criminal or civil courts.
  10. Never publish the identity of a child victim.
  11. Never identify alleged or convicted incest offenders when such actions could lead to the identification of the victim.
  12. In cases of kidnapping where it is determined that the victim has been sexually assaulted, stop identifying the victim by name once a sexual assault has been alleged.
  13. Never identify the names of victims of scams or other crimes that tend to humiliate or degrade the victim without the victim's prior consent.
  14. Refrain from photographing or broadcasting images that portray personal grief and/or shock resulting from a criminal act.
  15. Never publish photographs or broadcast images that could place the subject in danger.
  16. Refrain from showing photographs or broadcast images of deceased victims, body bags, or seriously wounded victims.
  17. Never publish photographs or broadcast images of funerals without the surviving family members' prior consent.
  18. Refer to drunk driving incidents as "crashes" or "crimes," not accidents, regardless of whether or not the use of alcohol has been determined as a factor.
  19. Approach the coverage of all stories related to crime and victimization in a manner that is not lurid, sensational, or intrusive to the victim and his or her family.


Blogger Susan Green said...

This is something that Susan Rosenbluth of "The Jewish Voice and Opinion" should read. She exploits the victim when she is a friend of the abuser. She names names and post pictures even when the victim herself asks her to cease and desist! What a poor excuse for a journalist and publisher as well!

January 02, 2006 11:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doesn't Susan own her paper? I think it's nothing more then a published blog.

The difference is she intimidates individuals from her community to pay for advertisments to print her crap.

Perhaps someone will start an advocacy group to go up against her practice of lashon hara.

January 02, 2006 1:13 PM  
Blogger Mara said...

Susan Rosenbluth is a jerk. She is a puppet of Mordecai Tendler. There's a special place in hell reserved for her. I think she's like that guy in the talmud about whom it was said that he would never be able to repent from his sins. The damage she has caused with her pen is just mind-boggling. I wonder how she can look herself in the eye.

January 03, 2006 7:40 AM  

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