Ethics Challenge: Should Journalists Be More Responsible Today Because of the Internet?

After reading How Tragedy Strikes When Journalism and Social Media Lack Ethics and Humanity (https://ethicaljournalismnetwork.org/how-tragedy-strikes-when-journalism-and-social-media-lack-ethics-and-humanity) for my FSH 628: Mobile & Social Media class at Academy of Art University on April 8, 2018, I wasn’t shocked by the irresponsibility of the “social media organizations” I was shocked by the “Reddit user” who started the whole scenario. The fact that they were merely an internet visitor who lacked empathy and common sense is apparent, and in my opinion, should’ve ended there. Unfortunately, in the haste to ride in on a hot story while it was still trending, the journalists working for these organizations didn’t verify the source by doing the proper research.

They never seemed to question why Sunil Tripathi was in the news or why someone would “post” his photo beside Boston Marathon bomber, Dzhokar Tsarnaev. It was just assumed they both looked Middle Eastern and a bias ensued causing Tripathi’s tragic demise. Due to their negligence, and inability to do the background research required for stories with an internet source, I definitely believe these journalists contributed to Tripathi’s death. By putting information, on the internet, that wasn’t responsibly written they endangered his life by alerting users whose personal prejudices, and lack of an intellectual filter put him in harm’s way.

If I were their editor, I would tell them to first give the public background information on the “clinical depression” Tripathi suffered from, then explain that he’s missing and his family is looking for him. I would simultaneously also advise the journalists to talk about the prejudice that might now exist because of the Boston Marathon bombing and how crucial it is to separate these feelings from the real crisis of Tripathi’s disappearance. Finally, I would ask them to provide the public with resources that could help him if they did locate him safely.

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Photo by Vojtech Okenka on Pexels.com

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