Where the Audience Might See Insensitivity

Where the Audience Might See Insensitivity

Chapter 15:Making News Decisions About Taste

Where the Audience Might See Insensitivity

The Virginia Tech shooter:

Excerpts from the Cho video:

David Folkenflik, “NBC cites an obligation to air Cho materials,” National Public Radio, April 19, 2007.

The Associated Press, “NBC News: Airing Cho video ‘good journalism’,” April 24, 2007

Discusses NBC’s defense of its airing of Seung-Hui Cho video.

James T. Campbell, “Right choice to use killer’s photos on Page One,” Houston Chronicle, April 20, 2007. Defends the Chronicles decision to print Virginia Tech killer Seung-Hui Cho’s photo on the front page.

David Bauder, “Backlash leads to pullback on Cho video,” The Associated Press, April 19, 2007. Discusses the critical response of viewers of several news outlets’ use of Virginia Tech killer video and the consequent limiting of its use by some of these outlets.

Dr. Kevorkian’s videotape of administering a lethal injection:

Caryn James, “ ‘60 Minutes,’ Kevorkian and a death for the cameras,” The New York Times, Nov. 23, 1998. Discusses the televised euthanasia of Thomas Youk in context of increasingly mediated life.

Franklin Foer, “Death in prime time,” U.S. News & World Report,Dec. 7, 1998. (Academic databases)

The New York Times, “Dr. Jack Kevorkian Dies at 83,” June 3, 2011.

Cartoons that offended Muslims:

Peter Johnson, “Media draw the line on running cartoons,” USA Today, Feb. 7, 2006.

Rem Rieder, “To publish or not to publish: American news organizations and the inflammatory Danish cartoons,” American Journalism Review, Feb. 9, 2006.

Expletives in news coverage:

“Readers’ representative journal: a conversation on newsroom practices and standards,” Los Angeles Times, Sept. 3, 2008. The Times’ taste and obscenity policy can be accessed at:

Gal Beckerman, “What the f—k are they driving at?, cjr online, May 26, 2006. The New York Times changes a quote to omit an obscenity – and turns fury into mild exasperation.

Howard Kurtz, “Post editor explains decision to publish expletive,” The Washington Post, June 26, 2004.

Clark Hoyt, “When to quote those potty mouths,” The New York Times, July 13, 2008.

Ted Diadiun, “The s- word,” The Plain Dealer, July 15, 2007. The Cleveland newspaper’s ombudsman discusses the decision to use an expletive in reporting on a man who shot three people to death. (News databases)

Bob Steele, “A presidential word of four letters,” poynteronline, July 18, 2006. What do when the president of the United States uses an expletive.

Beth Macy, “Language barriers: The New York Times’ handling of Jesse Jackson’s crude remark about Barack Obama rekindles the debate about how news outlets should deal with coarse language,” American Journalism Review, October/November 2008.

The Starr report:

J. D. Lasica, “The Starr investigation” in Tom Rosenstiel and Amy Mitchell, Eds., Thinking Clearly: Cases in Journalistic Decision-Making (New York: Columbia University Press, 2003), 39.

Kelly Heyboer, “Web feat,” American Journalism Review, November 1998. The Starr report was a breakthrough for the Internet as an information provider.

Legal limits:

FCC Memorandum Opinion and Order in the Matter of Complaints Against Various Broadcast Licensees Regarding Their Airing of the “Golden Globe Awards

FCC guidelines on obscenity, indecency, and profanity

Allan M. Siegal and William G. Connolly, The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage (New York: Times Books, 1999), 241.

Offensive Images in the News

Newsroom Ethics: Decision-Making for Quality Coverage, 4th Ed. (Washington, D.C.: Radio Television News Directors Foundation, 2006), 86-87.

D. M. Osburne, “Overwhelmed by events,” Brill’s Content, July/August 1998. “When a Los Angeles traffic story became a public suicide, local TV news directors laid their news judgment on the line – with differing results.” (Academic databases)

Barb Palser, “Too hot for the Web,” American Journalism Review, October 2000. “Many news Web sites adhere to the taste standards of their old-media parents.”

Russell Frank, “A duty to describe war’s horrors,” The Morning Call, Allentown, Pa., April 28, 2004. [See separate file in this folder.]

Sydney H. Schanberg, “Not a pretty picture: Looking this war in the face proves difficult when the press itself won’t even put in an appearance,” The Village Voice, May 10, 2005.

Case Study No. 16: Reporting on a Vulgar List in the News

Mary Niederberger and Nikki Schwab, “Explicit ranking of high school girls sparks outrage in Mt.Lebanon,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 26, 2006.

Sarah Goldstein, “Top 25 reasons to hate high school,” Salon, April 27, 2006.

Page Rockwell, “Another look at top-25 lists: Turns out the Mt. Lebanon High School ‘Top 25 of 2006’ is grosser than we thought,” Salon, May 5, 2006.

Sally Kalson, “Cake-eaters gone vile: The Mt. Lebanon High School ‘Top 25’ list is worse than you might think,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 30, 2006.

Case Study No. 17: Covering a Public Official’s Public Suicide

Video of the suicide:

Patrick R. Parsons and William E. Smith, “R. Budd Dwyer: A case study in newsroom decision making,” Journal of Mass Media Ethics, Vol. 3 No. 1, 84-94. (Academic databases)

Robert L. Baker, “Portraits of a public suicide: Photo treatment by selected Pennsylvania dailies,” Newspaper Research Journal, Vol. 9, No. 4, Summer 1988, 11-23. (Academic databases)

Robert C. Kochersberger Jr., “Survey of suicide photos use by newspapers in three states,” Newspaper Research Journal, Vol. 9, No. 4, Summer 1988, 1-10. (Academic databases)

Related to the Topic

Andrew Alexander, “Post will no longer accept massage parlor ads,” ombudsman’s blog for The Washington Post, Sept. 29, 2010.