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 • 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.
Suicides? • 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 • 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 • 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 • 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 • 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 • 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 • 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 • 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 • 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 • 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: www.freep.com/legacy/jobspage/arabs.htm
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 • 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 • 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 • Individual with a physical disability, instead of: crippled, handicapped; deformed; defective. • Accessible parking/accommodations, instead of: handicapped accessible • From: www.napas.org/media/WordsMatter.htm