The line between right and wrong


A few weeks ago, United States commemorated the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Every year, the minds of the world remember that day as one of the most horrible tragedies that happened to this country.

The job of a journalist is to communicate accurately the major events that impact society on one way or another. No matter what is the story, a journalist must find the most effective and objective way to report it.

In an utopian world, people won’t have to deal with the sour moments of life. However, this is impossible and mankind must be prepared to face difficult moments.

Usually, in the moments of a collective tragedy two things can happen. A country breaks apart and doesn’t recover from it or people form an union to overcome the situation.

In the case of the 9/11, the whole country briefly shut down and the people formed a union to overcome the tragedy.

Because of this, journalists must be prepared to deal with tragedies and know how to transmit the real facts, without causing more tension in moments of panic. We saw the need for this again in Washington, D.C., and in Nairobi, Kenya, in recent days.

Media have such power that it can harm an individual or an entire society just by publishing the wrong picture.

In addition, information travels so fast that it seems a phenomenon of ubiquity.  Now information is everywhere.

This is a demonstration of the enormous responsibility that the news media carry on their shoulders.

In a world of diversity, the ethics have created a path that journalists can use to guide themselves in the decision of publishing graphic pictures or even strong language.

Each news organization has its own journalistic values and it will have different reasons to decide whether to publish a graphic picture or not. And the profession itself has set its standards through codes of professional standards and ethics.

The Miami Herald will have a different perspective on a graphic picture than the Sun Sentinel.

It is also important to evaluate the news value of a picture, because people depend on what journalist report and how they document reality.

Journalists are also human beings and they act differently under varying influences. However, when it comes the time to decide whether to publish a picture of a person, for example, falling from the World Trade Center, the decision must be based on the person’s own guidelines as well as our professional values and the decision should be free from outside influences.

In contrast, it could be argued that a strong graphic picture might attract a great quantity of viewers. However, ethically speaking, journalists should minimize harm at all cost.

Some of the things that get published can have a negative effect on some individuals. People can be harmed by what they see, even more when they deal with death, pain and traumas.

This is an endless topic. Communication is a human act, and therefore it cannot admit perfection. This means that the most thoughtful story will be submitted under the judgment of the masses. For obvious reasons, the judgment can’t be unanimous.

Some people will acclaim a publication, and there will be others who will critically disapprove the same exact publication.

Only one thing is for sure, you can’t please everyone. Act responsibly and thoughtfully.

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