Category Archives: Taste and decency

Ethics of reporting terror: don’t glamorise killers

Emily Bell, one of the world’s most highly respected commentators on media, has written a post for the Columbia Journalism Review that draws together strands of important thinking on the dilemmas involved in terrorism fed by social media, and the emerging wisdom on the ethics involved for mainstream media in following it. Messages include: “Do not report facts until they are verified, do not focus on the perpetrator over the victims, do not use sensational language that might glamorize the terrorist.” Read it here (and find many more internationally-focused articles on the media in the same place).

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Freedom risk as Europe tackles social media hate

Concerns were raised about efforts in Europe and the UK to tackle online hate and harassment, including by making social media platforms more transparent. As US writer Mathew Ingram reported in the Columbia Journalism Review, there was a risk of inhibiting free speech. Note that US law gives greater latitude on free speech, which is protected in the Constitution.

Poet’s foul language too early for Ofcom

A documentary about the performance poet Luke Wright contained 38 uses of “the most offensive” language and 23 other sexually-loaded words but was broadcast before the watershed (the earliest time for transmitting material unsuitable for children). Community broadcaster Notts TV apologised and said it slipped through the net after a change of scheduling staff. Ofcom found a breach of its code. Read its findings in its October 2017 bulletin (page 6).

Law blog: images ‘justified’ in London terror reports

Media coverage of the 2017 Westminster terror attack included pictures and video of desperate attempts to save the life of a police officer, and a woman falling into the Thames after the terrorist drove at pedestrians on a bridge. The use of such images – already widely seen on social media – produced heated debate, but media law blogger David Banks considered many were not intrusive, and the told the story in a way that words alone could not. Read his post here.