It is written that thou shalt minimize harm.
But what is harm really?
In journalism, harm is the negative consequence that could result from telling a story .
According to John Stuart Mill, no person is truly isolated from others meaning that their actions have some sort of consequence that affects others. Therefore, a journalists should always balance between telling the truth and minimizing harm because whatever they report has either a positive or negative consequence on others.
However, harm should not be confused with offense. Yes offense causes discomfort to some but what is termed as offensive varies from community to community. For example, The LGBT movement is the current buzz in the Western media however, such a movement is bound to be seen as offensive to many in African countries as it is something that has been deemed as a taboo in such cultures.
Minimizing harm is a way that journalists let their humanity show through.
This brings into question on how journalists should report death or suicide. There have been cases where journalists have reported the death of an individual before some of their family members knew. And that shows how important it is for journalists to personally contact potential subjects of harm before reporting a case.
In cases of reporting murders or rape, there is a high chance that the family of such offenders could be harmed. Nevertheless, if it is going to greatly serve public interst, than journalists should report them. However, they should not involve the innocence relatives of the offender.
So yes minimizing harm is something journalists should consider when collecting stories.
That’s all for today. Tell me what you think!