Image courtesy of Michael O'Donnell and released under Creative Commons
The rail crash anniversary
It's coming up to the 10th anniversary of a rail crash in which 62 people died. You are preparing a television piece to mark the occasion using archive footage. Some of the images in the original material are disturbing. The pictures, which were shot ten years ago, show the seriously injured being tended to by paramedics. There are some bodies covered by blankets. You are aware that in the months following the rail crash another 14 people died of their injuries.
In compiling your three minute look back to the original event do you:
a) include the original images of the injured to create an accurate record of the events ten years ago and to capture the full horror of what happened
b) edit out any pictures of the injured so as not to cause unnecessary upset to family and friends of those who were being treated.
Correct Answer: b) edit out any pictures of the injured so as not to cause unnecessary upset to family and friends of those who were being treated
Why b) is the right answer
Coverage of the aftermath of a tragic events, particularly the anniversaries of rail crashes, bomb blasts or child abductions need considerable sensitivity.
We need to balance the news justification with the likely personal suffering of those involved.
Journalists must ensure that the material they cover has a clear editorial purpose.
In cases such as these we need to strike a balance between the demands of accuracy and the dangers of causing distress.
Use your journalistic skills to find images that mark the event but which do not cause offence or increase suffering.
Return to the offence module.
The author of this piece, David Brewer, is a journalist and media strategy consultant who founded Media Helping Media. David has worked as a journalist and manager in print, broadcast and online. He has spent many years delivering journalism training and media consultancy services worldwide.
This site has been given permission to use and adapt elements of the BBC's Editorial Guidelines in these short editorial ethics modules. They have been updated to reflect changing international, regional and cultural variations.