Media Ethics Case Study

The Pike River mine disaster is a useful case study regarding the ethical practices of journalists during times of extreme stress and grief. Notably, it demonstrates to what extent journalists are prepared to go for a good, humanised story. This case study provides a pertinent and relevant case study on an applied ethical issue.

For basic information about the mine and the disaster see link below:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pike_River_Mine

For some media commentary on the failures of journalists during this tragedy, particularly Australian journalists, see below:

Audio File: http://static.radionz.net.nz/assests/audio_item/0009/2437596/mwatch-20101128-0910-Mediawatch_for_28 _November_2010-m048.ask

Some useful parts during this commentary:

  • Key question posed: what is fit to print and what is not? (@approx. 7.20mins)
  • Condemnation of Ian Higgens (Journalist from the ‘The Australian’), misprinted information in his newspaper. Criticism of conduct and unethical behaviour (@approx. 14mins)
  • ‘The death knock’ – discussion with family members of recently deceased family by journalists attempting to get a scoop (all about competition for stories)(@approx. 20mins)
  • Media Law and breach of person’s right to privacy. Court has established an exemption preventing people experiencing devastating news in a public space from being filmed without permission (like a crowd could be filmed, without permission from each member). According to an law academic this right was breached during filming of the tragedy (@ approx. 24mins)
  • It highlights an important question about what is the public interest with respect to images surrounding the grief of people.

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