The Ethics of Journalism: How to Destroy Lives and Not Get Fired

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April 5, 2013 by ehempstead

When we covered ethics, it was mostly concerning lying. Is it all right to lie to get information? How low can you go in an interview to get the facts? Well, it’s a big gray area, but the article I’m going to cover here is pure disgusting dirt, and represents just how low we can go when it comes to reporting something ‘newsworthy’.

I first located this article by another article covering it, which explains with much greater articulation the despicable nature of the whole thing. Zinnia Jones is herself trans, so the content, concerning the suicide of a trans woman, probably hits home for her more than it does for me. Unfortunately, the article in question is lost to time, even for the Internet Archive, which was linked in Jones’ article during its original publication.

However, having read the article upon its first iteration  I can say safely that Jones’ reporting is accurate, and the Daily Mail is despicable.

The Daily mail can hardly be called a newspaper, but it still holds that media power that most traditional news forms tend to have. And, it misused that power by ignorantly attacking an innocent woman, calling her a predator, and causing her suicide.

“Lucy Meadows is dead. Are you happy with yourselves, Daily Mail? Are you proud that you used your platform as a national publication to rip open the life of an innocent woman and put her deeply personal struggles on display for an audience of millions?” -Zinnia Jones

My main beef comes from the Daily Mail’s decision to simply ignore the aftermath. They deleted the old article, and even used an exclusion code called robots.txt to lock the Internet Archive from accessing its past pages. Thus, we know they are definitely aware of what they’ve done. The problem is they don’t care.

We can debate all day about gender politics, but the only thing that really matters here is that because of this reporting, someone is dead. That cannot be stricken from the record, unwritten, or unpublished. It already happened.

This post by Autostraddle brings up a good point: “I have difficulty seeing how this story [Meadow’s transition to female] is worthy of any news coverage, even at the local level.” Was this really necessary? Unfortunately, this sort of thing happens all the time, with people questioning gender and sexuality in order to defame and decry. With gay rights still being fought over across the country, the gender police are out in force, writing things like this.

This somehow manages to be worse than Stuebenville coverage, which actually managed to report actual news–albeit horrendously. It all reminds me of Steven Colbert’s joke about “learning what the T in LGBT actually stands for (Tomato?)”.

This is not journalism.


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