Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Journalistic Ethics: Interviewing Kids After Tragedy

There's a lot of talk about interviewing the children who survived the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school. My initial instinct is to shun the idea of exploiting the kids for a media circus. This, I think is a correct instinct, but it assumes all journalists are vultures. However, I think I've come up with an acceptable compromise that builds off of the nonsense of quote approvals for public figures.

The point of the quote approval is to protect the speaker; when dealing with PR people and public figures, that seems silly. But, when dealing with elementary school students, that seems incredibly prudent. Here's my compromise: Allow the interviews of the children provided the following:

1. Parent/guardian approval
2. The interview is not live
3. The interview is only conducted after appropriate grief counseling as required
4. The final tape of the interview is signed off on by appropriate parent/guardians
5. The kid maintains anonymity throughout

I think this would help balance journalists' desire to get stories out there with our actual need to protect these kids. Is this a reasonable compromise, or do you think that there simply should be no interviews whatsoever?

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