The 24-hour news cycle arrived with the advent of television channels dedicated to news, and brought about a much faster pace (i.e. live) of news production with increased demand for stories that can be presented as news, as opposed to the day-by-day pace of the news cycle of printed daily newspapers.
More media, more space, happier PR people.
But occasionally we have to step back (even as PR people) and look at what is making it as news. Particularly alarming is when news becomes the news.
Of course most of the journalists we know abide by ethics and standards of good practice as applicable to the specific challenges they face while they do their job. But occasionally things spiral out of control.
If you didn’t know the various existing codes share common elements including the principles of — truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, fairness and public accountability — as these apply to the acquisition of newsworthy information and its subsequent dissemination to the public. Journalism ethics include the principle of "limitation of harm." This often involves the withholding of certain details from reports in case they harm individuals or the public.
One of the joys of having our head offices in California (and news on TV all the time) is that we are privy to police car chases through Los Angeles… as they happen. Why else would there be all those news helicopters over the smoggy city?
This month a particularly bright team of (alleged) bank robbers were making their get-away and while law enforcement officers were in hot-pursuit, we were watching the chaise unfold. The clever ‘unconventional banks withdrawal’ lads decided it would be advantageous if they could get some innocent bystanders between their speeding vehicle and the police… so they started throwing cash out of their car window while they sped down some of the poorer streets in South LA. And as a reminder, this is on live TV.
The live coverage and reporting is classic. The eye-in-the-sky even giving out the address of where the cash is being thrown!
Needless to say, the NettResults team won’t the only people watching this live, and many good (or not so) folks in that area raced out of their homes to retrieve (no doubt with the intent of returning) the bank notes. The report later that day on ABC wraps it up nicely.
How necessary is live news reporting? We understand there are multiple news channels and they compete to bring the news to us as quickly as possible… but perhaps news organizations may consider slowing this to a tad below real-time to provide themselves time to actually think about the content and add some intelligent commentary that doesn’t endanger the public.
Just a thought.