Wednesday, August 30, 2006

A MEDIA CODE OF ETHICS - When dealing with Sexual Abuse

US Department of Justice

The news media should--

  • Present details about a crime in a fair, objective, and balanced manner.
  • Recognize the importance of publishing or broadcasting information that can contribute to public safety and, at the same time, balance this need with the victim's need for privacy.
  • Respect the privacy of individuals who choose to refrain from dealing with the media or who choose to address the media through a spokesperson of their choice.
  • Provide a balanced perspective relevant to a criminal act that reflects the concerns of the victim and offender.
  • Never report rumors or innuendoes about the victim, the offender, or the crime unless such information has been verified by reliable sources.
  • In crimes other than homicide, identify the victim by age and area where the crime occurs, omitting street addresses and block numbers.
  • Refrain from using information gained from private conversations of victims or their relatives who are in shock or distraught.
  • Identify witnesses only when they volunteer to be named, and when there is clearly no danger that can be predicted through their identification by the media.
  • Never publish the identity of a sexual assault victim without his or her prior consent, regardless of whether the case is in the criminal or civil courts.
  • Never publish the identity of a child victim.
  • Never identify alleged or convicted incest offenders when such actions could lead to the identification of the victim.
  • In cases of kidnapping where it is determined that the victim has been sexually assaulted, stop identifying the victim by name once a sexual assault has been alleged.
  • Never identify the names of victims of scams or other crimes that tend to humiliate or degrade the victim without the victim's prior consent.
  • Refrain from photographing or broadcasting images that portray personal grief and/or shock resulting from a criminal act.
  • Never publish photographs or broadcast images that could place the subject in danger.
  • Refrain from showing photographs or broadcast images of deceased victims, body bags, or seriously wounded victims.
  • Never publish photographs or broadcast images of funerals without the surviving family members' prior consent.
  • Refer to drunk driving incidents as "crashes" or "crimes," not accidents, regardless of whether or not the use of alcohol has been determined as a factor.
  • Approach the coverage of all stories related to crime and victimization in a manner that is not lurid, sensational, or intrusive to the victim and his or her family.

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