One of my favorite training sessions to conduct is on newsroom ethics: What do we know? What do we still need to know? What are the risks? Who are the potential victims of our decisions? People often see the answers to these questions differently. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Over the next few months, I’ll present various scenarios I’ve encountered in the last few years. I’d like to hear how you’d approach each of the stories, starting with the following.
Granny’s Fire Fiasco
Right before Christmas, Granny’s home burned down. (I know. How sad, right?) Everyone who lives around Granny decides to raise money and take in donations to get her back on her feet. It’s a heartwarming story of neighbor helping neighbor. We go interview Granny. She’s staying with her son, and she’s there by herself. Granny gives us great sound. She thanks us. We’re out.
About half an hour before the story is set to hit the air, we get a call from the son who owns the home where we interviewed her. He doesn’t want us to air the story. He tells us we didn’t have permission to shoot in the home, and we don’t have a right to put it on TV.
We asked he and his family members if Granny was mentally fit to make decisions on her own. They said she was.
So what was their issue with putting the interview on TV? They didn’t want their home shown. It wasn’t clean, and showing it was an invasion of privacy.
At this point, you’re 10 minutes to air. How do you proceed? Do you have the information you need to make a decision?
Let’s discuss in the comments below!
Have an ethical dilemma you think is worth sharing with others? Email me: KellermanRA@yahoo.com