Ethical Journalism: You’re Doing It Wrong
I’d like you to pay attention to the caption beneath the picture at the top of the screenshot. Here’s what it says:
Anders Breivik’s purported manifesto says he planned every detail of his rampage, down to this photo being released to media. [Emphasis added]
It appears that somebody waltzed into CNN.com’s editor’s office, said something along the lines of ”Hey look, there’s this guy who’s just murdered almost 100 people. And here’s some pictures he’d like us to publish. I’ve got a great idea: Let’s publish them, along with a deep, insightful and understanding story on what motivated him, telling the world exactly all those things he wants us to tell the world. Let’s regurgitate his propaganda, word by word. Let’s quote him a lot. Don’t you think that’d make a great story?” – and was applauded all around.
There’s a German word for this: Leichenfledderjournalismus. It’s a compound word that translates to corpse-stripper journalism, describing the kind of journalism that will report anything that sells, completely free of ethical considerations and without any concern or sense of responsibility for the consequences. It’s usually reserved for those selling stories by using unnecessary close-ups of starving children, mortal wounds or giant puddles of blood, but I think it’s quite fitting here.
It’s sickening beyond words to see the world’s big Media outlets being tossed a manifesto explaining in detail how the mass-murderer wants them to behave, just to follow his instructions word-by-word. They publish his pictures, they propagate his views. Anything the star of the hour wishes.
Breivik was to appear in a hearing this monday, the 25th, to “explain” his motives. The residing judge (who apparently has no name) ordered the proceeding “closed for security reasons”, disabling that sicko from propagating his views further. I applaud him. It’s merely a gesture as the mainstream media are doing a better job of spreading Breivik’s propaganda than he could possibly have hoped for, but it’s a gesture of common sense and decency.
PS: I’ve deliberately cut off the picture in question, and just as deliberately I’ve failed to provide a link to the source of both the screenshot and my anger. I do not doubt anybody willing to view the picture won’t have any trouble finding it, but at least they’ll have to do so without my help.