Ethical issues in the media

Monthly Archives: October 2012

This past week in class, we discussed case studies on “newsworthy” events related to the privacy of the subjects. Ironically, I came across a story completely relevant to a subtopic of Chapter 5: The Media and Privacy- Suicides.

This past Friday, September 28th, The Fox News Channel broadcast a live feed of a car chase in Arizona which resulted in a suicide. The man being chased pulled his car over, got out, shot himself then fell face forward into the grass. It’s not uncommon for news networks to report car chases on slow news days. Usually they create 5-10 seconds delay in the event of violence, in this case a suicide. The chase was on a 5 second delay but the control room didn’t cut away in time.

News anchor, Shepard Smith, apologized on the air:

“We really messed up…and we’re all very sorry. That didn’t belong on TV. We took every precaution we knew how to take to keep that from being on TV. And I personally apologize to you that that happened.

“Sometimes we see a lot of things that we don’t let get to you, because it’s not time appropriate, it’s insensitive, it’s just wrong. And that was wrong. And that won’t happen again on my watch. And I’m sorry.”

Although Fox News didn’t show the suicide on purpose, other news sources did. Gawker, Buzzfeed, and LA Weekly did. They defended the posting as “newsworthy,” and included a warning on the disturbing ending.

The postings of this event lack sensitivity to it’s viewers and privacy of the victims family and friends. I think it is an ethical issue for news outlets to deem a situation “newsworthy” with complete disregard to privacy.



View complete story here.

Stelter, B. (September, 2012 28). As it followed a car chase, fox news showed a suicide. Retrieved from

View complete story here.