Tag Archives: WDBJ

Ethics Verdict: The New York Daily News WDBJ Shooting Front Page Isn’t “Tasteless” or Unethical; It’s Journalism

Virginia shooting

Honestly, I don’t get it. The horrible photos of the exact moment deranged racist Vester Lee Flanagan opened fire on Alison Parker convey what happened in specificity and clarity that no mere verbal description could. If your issue is gun violence, this shows it. If you want to see and understand what tragedy is “up close and personal” and even if you don’t want to understand it, this is how we learn. The furious criticism being focused on the Daily News is traditional Daily News hate, as far as I can determine. That paper has been criticized for having the guts to show raw images for a century now: one of its first outrages was a surreptitious photo of murderess Ruth Snyder being electrocuted:

Snyder_chair

Now that photo is history. Today’s front page will be history too.

At the journalism ethics site of the Poynter Institute, Kelly McBride, Poynter’s vice president for academic programs and a media ethicist, argues against using the unedited pictures, saying that “the problem with it is that it a deeply intimate image. It is a moment of someone’s death.”

You mean like….. this?

Nagasaki

That’s just thousands of people being incinerated in Nagasaki, but from a distance, so it’s tasteful, is that the idea? Well, what about this award winner… Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, History, Journalism & Media

Ethics Observations On The WDBJ Shooting

Shooter

As you know by now, a reporter and her cameraman were shot and killed Wednesday on live TV in Roanoke, Virginia. The shooter was a a former reporter at the same station his victims, 24-year-old WDBJ7 reporter Alison Parker and 27-year-old photographer Adam Ward, worked for. Another woman was shot at the scene and apparently will recover. The shooter, Vester Lee Flanagan II, 41, fatally shot himself in his car after fleeing. He had used Bryce Williams as his professional name.

Later it was learned that Flanagan had successfully sued the station (it settled), which had fired him in 2013 after he had worked there briefly. Earlier he’d been employed at several other stations across the country, and had sued some of them as well. He tweeted prior to his rampage that Parker had used a racist term in his presence.

ABC then reported:

“A man claiming to be Bryce Williams called ABC News over the last few weeks, saying he wanted to pitch a story and wanted to fax information. He never told ABC News what the story was.This morning, a fax was in the machine (time stamped 8:26 a.m.) almost two hours after the shooting. A little after 10 a.m., he called again, and introduced himself as Bryce, but also said his legal name was Vester Lee Flanagan, and that he shot two people this morning. While on the phone, he said authorities are “after me,” and “all over the place.” He hung up. ABC News contacted the authorities immediately and provided them with the fax.”

The 23 page fax included such comments as…

  • “MY NAME IS BRYCE WILLIAMS. Why did I do it? I put down a deposit for a gun on 6/19/15. The Church shooting in Charleston happened on 6/17/15”
  • “What sent me over the top was the church shooting,” referring to June’s mass shooting at the  Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C.
  • “And my hollow point bullets have the victims’ initials on them.”
  • “As for [Charleston shooting suspect] Dylann Roof? You [censored]! You want a race war [censored]? BRING IT THEN YOU WHITE …[censored]!!!”
  • “I was influenced by [ Virginia Tech shooter] Seung–Hui Cho….That’s my boy right there. He got NEARLY double the amount that Eric Harris and Dylann Klebold got…just sayin.”

A few observations: Continue reading

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Filed under Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, U.S. Society