Commentaries and analyze the ethical issues involved in it. Decide what the ethical position should be (after considering more than one) and defend your decision using the philosophies and decision-making processes
Commentaries and analyze the ethical issues involved in it. Decide what the ethical position should be (after considering more than one) and defend your decision using the philosophies and decision-making processes.
The questions at the end of each commentary are suggestions about how to examine the situation. You do not need to answer these questions in your arguments if you find a different approach to resolving the situation.
Your grade will be based on how well you frame your argument in terms of the philosophies and decision-making processes we discussed; how well you explain the philosophies and decision-making that you cite; and the quality of the writing — that is, the writing is clear with few grammar problems.
Case No. 3: When a kidnapping victim becomes a molestation victim
Local newspapers and television stations intensely covered an 8-year-old girl’s kidnapping in Vallejo in Northern California in August 2000. With law enforcement’s encouragement, they printed and broadcast the child’s photo and name. As an editor for the San Francisco Chronicle explained, “A newspaper such as ours has a role in publicizing the case of a missing child in those crucial early hours.”
The story was picked up by the Associated Press and published around the country.
The girl managed to escape three days later, and pictures of the child in her father’s arms made the front pages and top-of-the-hour TV news. Police later arrested a suspect and charged him with kidnapping and also with molesting the girl.
Many news media outlets reporting on the suspect’s arrest, indictment and later trial continued to include the name and age of the kidnap victim, although most if not all of them had policies against identifying rape and molestation victims. The Associated Press also included the girl’s name in follow-up stories about the arrest and trial.
Editors of papers that used the name argued that the girl was identified in earlier stories as a kidnap victim, not a rape victim, and it was now too late to protect her privacy.
Others argued that stories about the girl were positive because they portrayed her as a courageous hero, not as a victim.
A rape counselor disagreed with those who continued to use the girl’s name, arguing that a child who has been sexually assaulted needs privacy to heal.
The newspapers that stopped using her name argued that they were following existing policies and that “it was never too late to do the right thing.”
Sharon Rosenhause, the San Francisco Examiner’s managing editor, said her paper decided to stop using the name because “we don’t want to be making someone a victim for a second time.”
An Examiner columnist, however, criticized her paper’s decision to stop using the name. “… [I]n the well-intentioned hope of protecting her from further abuse, we have made her sexual victimization the most important thing about her,” she wrote.
Some issues to consider:
= Should the media have stopped identifying the girl, even though the public knew her name and the newspapers’ Internet and library archives were available to the public?
= What duty do the media have in protecting crime victims?
= What philosophies could you apply to this situation?
= Should the media treat rape and molestation victims differently than other crime victims?