Teachable Moment: When Reporters Are Attacked

It is almost never good when the reporter becomes the story.  Here is an interesting, yet difficult story to use for a classroom lesson.  A reporter from WSPA TV in South Carolina went into a neighborhood to cover a murder when she was attacked by the family of the alleged  murderer.  The story if further complicated by the fact that the reporter and her camera operator are African-American and the family members who attacked her are Anglo.  The video of the attack has become an internet viral video.

There are so many discussion questions you can use with this video in class.

-What kind of questions should a reporter ask to family members of a crime?

-What kind of questions should a reporter ask to family members of a victim of crime?

-How can a reporter be mindful of their feelings?  (in both cases)

-Should an assignments editor consider the racial issues of a reporter of one ethnic group going into a neighborhood of another ethnic group when there has been a highly charged issue like this.

-How do you handle reporting on another station in your market or a nearby market when there is an incident like this? (As WYFF has had to do.)

-What ways can the station try to minimize the impact of the conflict inside the station (their personnel) and in their coverage of the on-going story?

All interesting ethical questions.  Let your students think about them.


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