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Lesson: Should media re-air a broadcast
in which two people are killed?

Posted by on Aug 27, 2015 in Blog, Ethical Issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments



Should media re-air a broadcast in which two people are gunned down?


Students will examine how to examine ethics of re-airing this broadcast using Poynter’s 10 questions to make good ethical choices.


  • Students will collaboratively work through questions to help them make a decision involving journalism ethics.
  • Students will decide what they would do in relation to this real-world ethical dilemma.
  • Students will note the difference in decisions between public officials and on-air reporters and camera operators.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.WHST.9-10.1.b Develop claim(s) and counterclaims fairly, supplying data and evidence for each while pointing out the strengths and limitations of both claim(s) and counterclaims in a discipline-appropriate form and in a manner that anticipates the audience’s knowledge level and concerns.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.WHST.9-10.9 Draw evidence from informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.


40 minutes

Materials / resources

Ethical questions from Poynter Institute: Ask these 10 questions to make good ethical decisions

Access to JEA’s SPRC Foundations Package: Covering controversy

Lesson step-by-step
Before the lesson delivery:

Because of the sensitivity of the topic, the teacher should tell the students they will be discussing the rebroadcast of the reporter and cameraman who died. They will not be viewing the video, but will discuss the ethical considerations concerning its availability. (Note: Students who have experienced trauma may need to leave the room, some might need to pace. If your community has experienced trauma, it would be advisable to have a counselor ready if needed.)

Step 1 — initial question (5 minutes)
Teacher should ask students if they believe the broadcast of the reporter and cameraman who died should be rebroadcast? Why or why not?

You may even ask students if anyone would like to share that they watched the video and why. (This should be dependent on your class.)

Teacher should tell the students they will make the decision using 10 questions from the Poynter Institute.

Step 2 — small groups (15 minutes)

Separate students into groups. Project (or hand out if no projector is available) Poynter’s 10 questions. Ask each group to discuss and make notes on each of the questions.

Step 3 — decision (5 minutes)

Ask students to come to a consensus as to whether they would re-air the video.

Step 4 — large group debrief (10 minutes)

Ask groups to share their decision and rationale based on the 10 questions provided.

Step 5 — Another questions (5 minutes)
Have you ever seen footage of JFK’s assassination (or another high ranking official)? What are the differences in this instance and that of JFK’s?

(Answers will vary, but many will cite the newsworthiness of the president being assassinated versus a lesser public figure.)

Ask students (in their groups) to outline several approaches for covering controversial issues. They should use the Scholastic Press Rights Committee resource: Covering controversy as a starting point. Also, see this link. Teacher may want to start with slide 17 (the last slide) for Day 2 of this lesson.

Lesson by Lori Keekley

For more materials on this topic, go here.

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Virginia shooting aired live,
coverage offers timely discussions

Posted by on Aug 26, 2015 in Blog, Ethical Issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


sprclogoThe shooting deaths of two journalists today and the wounding of a third person in Virginia creates possible lessons for scholastic media classrooms.

  • Ethics: Should other media repeat the video of the actual shooting? The shooting was broadcast live. Students could discuss the reasons for and against repeating the shooting and develop ethical guidelines for their publishing of controversial situations.
  • Newsworthiness: What should the lead be? What additional information should be included in stories like this? What is the best way to update them? Once the breaking news angle has passed, how should media report additional events? How much background should be included?
  • Social media: The video and related personal information went viral immediately after the shooting. How much of what hit social media should play a role in news coverage? What should journalists’ social media include? Should social media mix factual information with viewpoints?
  • Storify assignment: For students just learning how to use Storify, you could create a lesson with the various approaches digital and social media used about the shooting. Discussion points could include purpose of the Storify, credibility of the sources, verification of information and ethical considerations and in making those decisions. Grading and/or discussions could work around this rubric.

Exploration of these and additional questions and examples can help scholastic journalists place their coverage in perspective and improve their coverage.

Links for use (among many):
• Deadly shooting of reporters in Virginia
• Virginia TV murders: Reporter shot while running away; camerman’s finance watched him die
• Gunman murders two Virginia reporters in attack broadcast on live TV
• Manhunt on for killer of two employees in SW Virginia
• 2 journalists shot dead during TV broadcast in Virginia
• Deadly shooting during live TV news report in Va.
• Image shows the gunman
• Va. shooter posted tweets, video of shooting on Twitter, manhunt underway for former      disgruntled employee

These links were all early in the day. Seek additional updates for additional information and discussion points.

Updated links from later Aug. 26:
• Should you use the video and the fax from the WDBJ shooting? That depends
• Suspect in killing of Virginia TV crew said he was ‘just waiting to go BOOM’
• The Virginia shooting and the dark side of the social media age
• How should news organizations he treating the manifesto from the WDBJ shooting?

For more materials on this topic, go here.

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