What do YOU want us to do?
We had a lively debate in the news room today and I want to get YOU involved. The topic is an uncomfortable one that - unfortunately - is becoming more prevalent all the time: suicide. But in this case it's suicide involving teenagers.
A West Linn High School student took her own life this week and some of the news coverage specifically named her. Throughout my career in broadcast journalism every radio station I've worked for had a standard that you never
identify a suicide victim, especially if it's a minor. (As a matter of fact most news organizations won't even identify minors arrested for crimes.)
Why? Part of the reason is to spare the family additional grief, but another rationale is that by giving public recognition to someone for killing themselves you might be glorifying them. If other teenagers who are considering suicide see that victims get their names on the news and their friends are shown saying nice things about them, could that encourage other people to follow suit? How many of us know what's going on in the mind of a depressed teenager?
I just personally feel uncomfortable naming names in cases like this. What's to be gained?
From a purely competitive perspective, some of my colleagues say "well, other media have revealed the name so what's the difference if we withhold it?" Others point out how social media spreads the identity of the victim instantaneously, so the name is already out there among the close-knit group of friends and family.
Do you as a news consumer want to see the name of a teenage suicide victim? Should we even report individual cases of suicide? Please give us some guidance!Gregg Hersholt
FM News 101