That's it, That's all

April 3 – That’s my idea of a lecture: discussions, videos, current events, case studies and the hidden tests on ethics. Although we have not been instructed to give our personal reviews of the semester with Professor Orosz, I feel it necessary to offer my kudos to the reporter-prof who provided a worldly view of the journalism business and a full and beefed-up understanding of what it means to be an ethical journalist.

As someone who attempted the journalism world and despairingly returned to the books instead of settling for a desk job, I can now say that I have a brighter understanding of what truth in journalism really means. It’s about being ethical – a way-of-being that is much less abstract now that I have been faced with case studies and discussions on the matter. It’s like a weight being lifted off my shoulder to fully understand what ethics in journalism really mean.

And the beauty of this industry is ethics will continue to evolve as long as people keep reporting. In our last class, we discussed the unfortunate new form of reporting that made journalism history this past year. The death of former Libyan dictator, Moammar Gadhafi, made headlines and subsequent videos of his death went viral. All over the globe, viewers watched the world’s most wanted man suffer from head wounds as he was dragged by rebels. Photos soon followed of the fallen dictator, his dead body on display for the world to examine.

This is the dark world of murdertainment.

As if it was a competition, networks and new agencies hunted for the latest footage and shots of Gadhafi’s last moments. What happened to the media? Suddenly death is being celebrated.

Traditionally in journalism if it bleeds, yes indeed it leads. However as soon as the heart stops, it’s not fair game anymore. There used to be a level of dignity and respect whereby images of death were blurred or covered in order to simply provide a point where imagination could make up the rest of the story. There are exceptions at times, like Professor Orosz’ own experience when he shot photos of bodies from the Romanian revolution in order to convey the current events. This was not a celebration of death, but an eye opening report.

Unfortunately for the new age media there is, as Professor O. describes, “an obscene orgy of execution and death.” And it’s highly disturbing. Where we (journalists) used to be the small group of professionals who made the choice whether to publish graphic images or not, the internet has now given that responsibility to every internet user in the world. Suddenly, news agencies are counting on citizens to provide cell phone footage of current events and little is being edited.

Are they seeking images worthy of shock and awe? Or are they seeking to convey higher levels of truth?
We are taught to report the truth, and seek out the truth and so we sit in a sensitive position. Do we protect readers and viewers from the gruesome reality? Or do we throw it at them? In earlier blog posts I would have ended it there. But luckily, I have learned a thing or two about what I’m ethically bound to.

 And now, I think it’s obvious. This new form of reporting has been dubbed murdertainment because it exists and it’s being sought after. Journalists now have to adhere to this wider scope of truth, and if the whole truth means revealing the images of death, then so be it. We will filter out what the public doesn’t need to see and we will give them the honest, un-biased, neutral story.

This is the new era.

“Thank you for your attention.”


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