Flight 17 Ethical Issues

The crash of Malaysia Airlines flight 17, which was shot down over Ukraine was a tragic event that shocked the world. But many news organizations and reporters did not practice good ethics after the event, which only made the situation worse for families and loved ones of the victims, as well as other professionals that were going through the wreckage.

Some of the ethical problems that occurred after the event were the instances of reporters such as Colin Brazier from Sky News and Australian reporter Phil Williams going through the dead passengers belongings and one Dutch reporter reading someone’s diary. While it might have made for a good story, these cases were very insensitive to the victims as well as the families, who had to deal with the personal thoughts and belongings of their dead loved ones shown and messed with on national TV.

Another facet of this is for law enforcement. They need to be able to have the scene entirely untouched, except for specially trained individuals, in order for them to piece together exactly what happened. They need to be able to take pictures and video for the purpose of being able to help bring justice to the victims of a crime, if possible. The journalists that went through the scene and moved objects were disturbing evidence that could have proved helpful to law enforcement in finding out what happened.

There was no reason for these journalists to go through these people’s belongings and read their personal thoughts. It is only OK to do something that might hurt people if it is needed to get the facts, if the story is important enough to warrant it and everything possible is done to minimize the hurt. The journalists of these three cases did not give enough consideration to the people that would be hurt and the consequences that they and the companies that they worked for faced were appropriate. These ethical violations were unnecessary for the story and cruel to the families and loved ones that had already been through a lot.

This event shows how, even in this era of 24 hour cable news and sensationalism in journalism, journalists need to remain ethical about how they report on stories, especially tragedies like what happened to flight 17. In the Sky News incident, Mr. Brazier commented while he was going through the luggage that he did not think that they should be going through the luggage of the victims, according to The Guardian. Journalists need to trust their instincts and common sense when reporting news because if doing something does not seem right it probably should not be done. Journalists should practice empathy in all circumstances. They should put themselves into the shoes of the family and loved ones and think about whether they would want a reporter to do that to their relative’s belongings.

Journalism is still a relatively free profession, with no official ethical code or many laws that control conduct. It is important that journalists use the freedom that they have to practice their profession ethically so that journalism can remain free in the future.



Radio vs TV

For this assignment, I looked at the flooding and tornadoes in Texas. The radio station that I looked at was the Texas local radio station KLBJ (99.7FM) and for the video, I looked at CBS News. The news for both of the stations were the same. They both said similar things for the basic facts. However, there were differences in how the news was presented for each station.

One thing that was different was that CBS was showing weather updates on radar and showing video footage from a survivor that had survived getting his car swept away by the flooded river by climbing a tree and staying there for 5 hours. I feel that this enhanced the news a little bit from what I heard on the radio. They could describe what was going on on the radio, but seeing the maps and the footage of the flooding really made it more real for me. Interviews were also enhanced because I got to see the interviewees’ faces as they were being interviewed. Hearing the interviewees speak on camera was not enough to get a feel for what they were feeling. It was better to see the emotions on their faces.

Another thing that was different between the local radio station and CBS was the focus. CBS had some coverage of the floods, but they were not the focus of the website. Since KLBJ is a local radio station in Texas, it was reversed. Most of the focus of the broadcasts were on the flooding and how the survivors can use FEMA for compensation for damages or how they can sign up to help each other. There was a little bit of national news as well. There was a downside, though. KLBJ was a news station, but it shared airtime with some other radio shows such as Coast to Coast AM, a paranormal news/ talk radio show. The shows were interrupted sometimes to talk about news, which included the floods.

I picked CBS and KLBJ because I wanted to see not just what the differences would be from radio and TV coverage, but what the differences would be between a local news station in the state being affected and a national news organization. Since I have only ever heard news on the radio from WTOP news, I was curious to see another local news station and how they handled the news. One difference that I noticed were the radio shows that happened along with the news broadcasts. I did not think that the news station and the shows would share the same radio station. I was surprised that Coast to Coast AM was being broadcast at KLBJ. I am familiar with that radio show, but I did not realize that it was filmed in Texas.

Overall, I liked TV better, because I liked how the visual information enhanced what I was listening to. Radio was good for listening while doing something else, but the visual component was what gave the most important information.