Category Archives: Minimize Harm

Minimizing harm for families of homicide victims

“More Than A Number” by Justin Baxley is a project aimed at making it easier and more humane for families of homicide victims to engage with local media. Baxley focused on giving the families of crime victims more agency over how quickly and how often a media outlet contacts them (including choosing not to comment at all), ensuring more time to respond to journalists’ questions and having more of a say in how their loved one is portrayed.

One of

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Covering suicide responsibly

For Quill, Julie Scelfo writes about how to cover suicide responsibly. Scelfo references a New York Times article that looked into a website where people shared suicide methods and encouragement. It contained graphic details, specific terminology and the name of the website. The Times included a note about the decision-making process, “Editors decided to identify the site and the preservative used in many of the suicides — as some other news outlets have done — in order to fully

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Covering Independence Day mass shootings

The Fourth of July accounted for the most mass shootings of any other day of the year in nearly a decade, a CNN analysis finds. This weekend, several mass shootings took place across the country in Washington, D.C.IndianapolisBaltimoreFort Worth, Texas, and Philadelphia.

When covering mass shootings it is important that journalists follow the SPJ Code of Ethics. Journalists should seek the truth and report it. As information is released from these

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Sharing victims’ social media photos in news reports

Journalists covering traumatic news often have to make difficult decisions, especially when it comes to photographs. Kimina Lyall writes for the Guardian, there are difficult ethical dilemmas that come with trauma reporting. There was a deadly bus crash in Australia that killed 10 people and some of the images that were circulating with the news were taken from the victim’s social media pages without permission.

The SPJ Code of Ethics says that journalists need to “recognize that legal access

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Ensure accuracy when reporting on COVID-19

On May 5, the World Health Organization ended the emergency status for COVID-19 and the United States COVID-19 health emergency will end on Thursday. While navigating this “post-pandemic” era, it is important to continue to take care in reporting on COVID-19. Ensure you are using clear language when explaining these updates. Ending the emergency status does not mean COVID-19 is over as a global threat. Continue to follow the SPJ Code of Ethics to seek the truth and report

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Covering the Nashville school shooting

Six people, including three children, were killed in a shooting at Covenant School in Nashville on Monday morning. News organizations have adopted the best practices when reporting on mass shootings to avoid misinformation and pandering to lurid curiosity. However, as Poynter notes, some coverage has focused on details about the shooter that draw away from accurate reporting. Journalists covering the shooting should follow the SPJ Code of Ethics. They must balance the public’s need for information against potential

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Covering the mass shooting on Lunar New Year

On Jan. 22, there was a mass shooting following a Lunar New Year celebration in Monterey Park, California, that killed 11 people and injured nine others. Less than 48 hours later, there was another mass shooting in Half Moon Bay, California, that killed seven people. As reporters focus on Monterey Park, a heavily Asian American community, and Half Moon Bay, a city that employs many migrant workers, Asian American Journalists Association reiterated its guidance on how to cover Asian

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ESPN covers Hamlin’s cardiac arrest

When Damar Hamlin of the Buffalo Bills suffered cardiac arrest on the field during the Monday Night Football broadcast on Jan. 2, it put ESPN at the center of a major breaking news story, as those watching on TV and at Paycor Stadium wondered if Hamlin would be OK. ESPN’s coverage was cautious. It aired few replays, offered very little speculation about Hamlin’s health and only relayed what reporters knew. Scott Van Pelt, who was anchoring SportsCenter, told the Associated

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Granting anonymity while covering mental health and teens

In November, ProPublica and THE CITY published a story about  three New York City teenagers who struggled to get mental health services that the city’s public schools are legally obligated to provide. The teens in the story were granted anonymity. The SPJ Code of Ethics says journalists should “identify sources clearly. The public is entitled to as much information as possible to judge the reliability and motivations of sources.” However, when writing about minors and sensitive subjects like mental health,

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Showing protesters faces in China

Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in more than a dozen Chinese cities, raising blank white papers to demand freedom of speech and the end of COVID-19 lockdowns. The media have covered the protests with live photos and videos that have shown the protesters’ faces. “While we understand the journalistic responsibility to document what happens in public spaces, we’re concerned that those photos may create openings for retaliation, from doxxing and professional consequences to persecution by police.

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