Bad journalism 101

A good journalist is someone who finishes their work within the deadline, covers stories that will certainly sell, but a good journalist is also someone who makes ethical decisions. A journalist must first think if the coverage of a story is worth it in the sense that it is not harming anybody. If it causes harm, then it should never be pursued.

Easier said than done, journalists are people too who work for large organisations. The organisations strive to maximise profits in the interest of their shareholders and the journalists all the while have bills to pay and children to raise. Sometimes the need to keep their jobs takes precedence over their ethical and moral obligations. Sadly, the media coverage/ circus that surrounded the murder of a 15 year-old girl in 2008 illustrates the media shortcomings from an ethical perspective. 

Her name was Eloa Pimentel. She was kept hostage in her own home for a week by an ex-boyfriend who didn’t accept the end of the relationship. From day one, media outlets rushed their teams of reporters to the girl’s house. They stayed outside her house 24/7 until she was murdered. All was live on national television.

The reporters got in the way of police negotiations, the most bizarre aspect of the ordeal was that a woman with an afternoon TV programme rang the kidnapper to have a chat as if he was just a normal guest. Many others have tried as well. That is not the job of a reporter, that’s the police job. They filmed the girl’s last days like a reality show, it was pure entertainment, all in the name of high audience numbers.

Another example is the death of Lady Diana. In the lead up to her death, her life had become a fanfare or a sort of circus. She died while being chased by photographers. It feels like we’re forgetting that celebrities and people in the media are human beings who just lust like us and deserve at least a bit of privacy. Especially, privacy to die in peace, not on national television. The media most certainly should not inhibit the ability of the police to do their job. The media are beholden to their shareholders.

Journalists walk a precarious tightrope as the industry steadily declines, however, they must not disregard their duty to the public, whilst operating in an ethical manner and from a place of compassion and empathy. 

People should take precedence over profits.

Written By: Amanda Rodrigues

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What are your your thoughts on Bad Journalism 101?

Want to find out more about Eloa Pimentel and the media circus surrounding her death? Please see the documentary below, which has english subtitles/ captions.

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