Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Help for journalists in covering children's deaths

Recent tragedies such as the Connecticut school massacre, the Boston Marathon bombing and the accidental shooting death of a 2-year-old in Kentucky by her 5-year-old brother have led to concern about how media outlets should cover news stories that involve the death of children. The Journalism Center on Children and Families at the University of Maryland's Philip Merrill College of Journalism has released a module offering advice to journalists on covering these sensitive issues.

Julie Drizin, director of the center, said "Covering child deaths is perhaps the most emotionally challenging story a journalist will tell in their careers," reports David Ottalini for the center. Drizin said reporters need to do a better job writing stories that are “ethical, balanced, compassionate and caring.”

The module covers areas such as interviewing a child witness or grieving families, writing a child's obituary, determining what photographs are appropriate to use, how close a reporter should get to the families they're covering, and how to cover cases involving juvenile deaths, Ottalini reports. There are also many examples of what not to do. The module can be viewed here.

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