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Sensitivity. Story-specific and multicultural. Story-specific sensitivity. Some stories can require special sensitivity or empathy toward people who have been involved in an emotional situation: - Obituaries - Crime stories - Fires - Accidents . Obituary stories.

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Story-specific and multicultural

Story specific sensitivity
Story-specific sensitivity

  • Some stories can require special sensitivity or empathy toward people who have been involved in an emotional situation:- Obituaries- Crime stories- Fires- Accidents

Obituary stories
Obituary stories

  • Typically done about people who are well known or died in a manner that attracts attention:- Crash, fire, murder- “How does it feel?” – NO- Can be helpful to ask funeral home or other involved person if you can interview family.


  • In general, media avoids reporting on suicides.

  • Exceptions include if the person is very well known.

  • Another exception: Person commits suicide in a public manner. EX. Jumps off famous building.

Crime stories
Crime stories

  • Some crimes can be very personal – make sure you respect and have sympathy toward victims.

  • Victims may not want to be interviewed for a story.

  • General story about a victim of crime – use alias?

Crime stories ii
Crime stories II

  • Generally speaking, avoid using the name of the person accused of the crime until the person has been formally charged.

  • Sometimes make an exception to that and say “named in an arrest warrant.” Be careful.

Crime stories iii
Crime stories III

  • In general, media organizations avoid naming the alleged victim in a rape case.

  • The person accused of the rape may be named. There is an exception to this that some news organizations make – when naming the accused would identify the rape victim.

Fires and accidents
Fires and accidents

  • At the scene – don’t get in the way of rescue personnel.

  • Police/firefighters sometimes go overboard in terms of access. Try to calmly explain you are doing your job, and if that doesn’t work, seek a supervisor.

  • In general – can be in pubic areas (streets, sidewalks) if that area is safe.

Your emotions
Your emotions

  • Sometimes dealing with these types of stories can be emotionally draining.

  • Talk to someone if it’s bothering you.

  • If you feel the coverage is too difficult for you to handle, discuss the situation with your boss.

Writing the story
Writing the story

  • Be careful in the words you choose, particularly with crime stories. Don’t convict someone before a trial. Not only is that inaccurate, you can invite legal trouble.

  • Avoid libelous statements. Cite thoroughly.

Multicultural sensitivity
Multicultural sensitivity

  • Reporters work in the mass media. That is widespread and cuts across cultural, ethnic, religious and financial lines.

  • We encourage a wide variety of views and diverse coverage. Diversity – of ethnicity, religious background, gender, sexual orientation, thought.

Language of multiculturalism
Language of multiculturalism

  • AP stylebook for general use.

  • Your specific coverage area or your organization may have a style that deviates from the AP.

  • Ask people how they would like to be identified.

Your coverage area
Your coverage area

  • Some specific areas have higher concentrations of populations, and set up coverage guidelines based on that.

  • Dearborn – large population of Arab Americans.

  • Detroit Free Press set up a guide, and posted it online:

Learn your audience
Learn your audience

  • Reporters should educate themselves on the culture and makeup of their coverage area.

  • CMU offers a course in Racial Diversity in the Mass Media: JRN 380

Gender references
Gender references

  • Way back when: FiremenNow: Firefighters

  • Preference is for gender-neutral terms.

  • An AP style exception: Chairman or chairwoman. Only chairperson, chair orco-chair if that is the formal title for an office.

People with disabilities
People with disabilities

  • General guide: Use the term “person with…” or “individual with …” up front.

  • If you are confused about terminology, ask the person you are interviewing.

  • Also helpful: Advocacy groups. Local groups would be best, but some reference guides can be found online.

For example
For example

  • Individual with a physical disability, instead of: crippled, handicapped; deformed; defective.

  • Accessible parking/accommodations, instead of: handicapped accessible

  • From: