‘Avoid unneeded gory details about the victims’ deaths’


Picture Courtesy: Damian Kettlewell for council in West Vancouver

Currently,I am associated with a small and independent crime and human rights magazine being published from Calcutta.Before writing any story,I try to follow the guidelines provided by the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma.

1.  Focus on the person’s life. Find out what made the person special: personality,beliefs, environment (surroundings, hobbies, family and friends), and likes and dislikes. Treat the person’s life as carefully as a photographer does in framing a portrait.

2.  Always be accurate. Check back with the victim or victim’s representative to verify spellings of names, facts and even quotes. The reason: When you first talk to a victim, he or she may be confused or distracted. Double-checking can ensure accuracy. It also may provide you with additional information and quotes that you can use.

 3.  Use pertinent details that help describe victims as they lived or provide images of their lives. Example: “Johnny loved to play the guitar in the evening to entertain his family, but it also helped him escape the stress of his job as a sheriff ’s deputy.”

4.  Avoid unneeded gory details about the victims’ deaths. After the Oklahoma City bombing, certain reporters chose not to reveal that body parts were dangling from the trees near the federal building. Ask yourself whether the images are pertinent or will do unnecessary harm to certain members of your readership or broadcast audience. Also, avoid words and terms such as “closure,” “will rest in peace” or “a shocked community mourns the death.” Use simple and clear words as good writers do for any story.

5.  Use quotes and anecdotes from the victim’s relatives and friends to describe the person’s life. Especially those that tell h ow the person had overcome obstacles. Seek current photos of the victim (but always return them as soon as possible). This way, you know what  the person looked like.

Similarly,when I worked as a TV Journalist,first I tried to build up confidence and then persuade them (read request) to talk on camera.I told them that I have nothing to do with their background but I try to highlight their plight.They trust me and openly told their story in front of camera.
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About shanthanubh

A calcutta(India)based Independent newsresearcher and Investigative reporter.He has been working as a journalist for more than 15 years.He had worked as a news researcher for various news based programs in Calcutta.Shanthanu considers Deborah Potter and Theressha Collington Moore as his mentor because in his early days of journalism carrier, he was inspired and motivited by their works and learnt a lot from them about media ethics and news research.Though,a news researcher don't get enough credit for his job,he sticks to it.He believes that as journalists we should follow the jounalism mantra that if your mother says she loves you, check it out.we work as a store clerk.we believe that facts are more important than adjectives.Earlier,he also worked as a private investigator to brush up his skill as an Investigative Reporter.

Posted on November 4, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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