Thursday, January 24, 2008

Heath Ledger The death of web news morals

Tragic by any circumstances, but also distressing that his parents learned about their son's fate via a news broadcast.

The explosion of media has a downside; the interminable race to be first.

Yes it wasn't born in the web era, but rears its head more often.

We saw it nakedly during the Virginia Tech shootings, and we'll continue to witness a slump in an area that must be preserved in the bid to tell others business: respect and a code of ethics.

David Brewer who was one of the earlier web evangelists to set up CNN, BBC and Al Jazeera shared a telling thought with me.

The desk team of a well known news brand reported an incident giving the names of the deceased; the incident itself happened on the African continent.

But watching the news from home, David hit the phones to instruct the team to cease to report further the names of those dead.

There was some bewilderment he says from editorial, but a call later from a senior editor thanking David put it into perspective.

When Africa seems so far away, when you don't know those involved, have no affinity, but know their names, what's the harm?

"We must first inform the next of kin", David would stress. Absolutely!

The dash for news, unmoderated, plentiful in its supply presents new dilemmas which outlets with no code of conduct could care less about.

Being first and gaining important currency and kudos overshadows a dying agreement of scruples and good judgement.

Whether it's ledger, Virginia or Africa, there are people affected by the pain of that story.

They deserve better.

We should try and keep some perspectives.

No comments: