Monday, June 7, 2010

Should Journalists Show Suicides on TV?

A MAN ACCUSED OF MURDER in California was cornered by police at the edge of steep cliff. Turns out he was also a porn star. The standoff lasted a long time - allowing news crews to arrive on the scene.

With dusk approaching, the man decided to leap off the cliff, committing suicide. The news crews captured the entire suicide. Then they showed it on air. Multiple times.

Is it wrong to show the video of a person dying?


Joe said...

I always thought it was like, protocol to not show or even report suicides in the news because it's always possible that a suicide story could trigger more suicides. I heard that about ten years ago... things have changed, I guess, and not for the better. This is outrageous.

Ian Watson said...

I think if it's broadcast live and someone just happens to commit a "surprise suicide," if you will, the news crew really has their hands tied in showing it or not. However, showing it over and over again is just a tad obnoxious.

As Joe said, I also thought that this was unethical to show on TV, for the reasons he stated. It surprised me that they could show it once, let alone over and over again from different angles.

Charlotte Jacobson said...

I think it is entirely unnecessary and disturbing to show suicides on television news. Unless it is like Ian said, and is a complete "surprise suicide" that they could not avoid catching on live camera- no one should be exposed to watching a person kill themselves. It's not right for the family of the person who committed suicide, because not only do they have to deal with what happened once, but also they are being constantly reminded of it every time they turn on the TV. Finally, I believe it is definitely ridiculous and in bad taste to be showing it multiple times- just to get more people to watch.

Joie' Johnson-Walker said...

I believe it is absolutely unnevessary and quite disturbing to show someone committing suicide on air. I believe that before we are journalists, we are FIRST human beings! So, if a reporter knows of a suicide attempt that is rumored or is definitely going to happen, they are obligated as a human being to stop it. However, if a journalist is on the scene and "just so happens" to catch the incident, i do believe it is okay to show it because it is, in this case, "breaking news."