#MuckedUp chat Tuesday: The minefield of reporting on tragedy
Easily the most persistent and troublesome quandaries in journalism are those that arise while covering tragedies. With USA Today reporting annual mass killings at an average of more than two a month and 147 victims a year, American journalists face thorny ethical questions often and inevitably. In the aftermath of the most recent shooting at UC Santa Barbara, for instance, Poynter’s Kelly McBride explored what might be the right way to publish a killer’s deranged manifesto. On the other end of the spectrum, one of UCSB’s student-run papers wrestled over whether they were even ready to cover the issue at all, which triggered further controversy. And then there’s the enduring dilemma of whether too much coverage not only lionizes killers, but might be inspiring copycats. How do we do our jobs without adding even further to our subjects’ grief?
None of these recurring questions are easy burdens to bear. Fortunately, none of us have to weather them alone: we invite you to participate in a special #MuckedUp tweetchat on the dilemmas journalists encounter in this complicated area of reporting. If you have questions you'd especially like us to tackle together, email or tweet them to me, and then join us on Twitter as we hash out some of the most nagging issues presented by tragedy reporting, this upcoming Tuesday, June 3, at 5 p.m. PST/8 p.m. EST.