The Bottom Line, a weekly student-run newspaper at the University of California, Santa Barbara published an editorial explaining why they had decided to hold off on publishing anything about the mass shooting that killed six of their peers: they wanted to "minimize the emotional harm for our reporters, photographers and multimedia journalists."
A really really dubious reading of journalism ethics from the kids at UCSB student paper. pic.twitter.com/MPsywzXp85— Byron Tau (@ByronTau) May 27, 2014
Tau, a reporter at Politico, experienced a decent amount of backlash for the tweet, but stood by his initial criticism of The Bottom Line's decision to refrain from publishing actual news.
Conversely, The Daily Nexus, another student-run paper at UCSB, was featured by the L.A. Times for their quick and professional coverage of the shooting. Marissa Wenzke, an editor of the paper, was near the scene of the shooting as it occurred and immediately began interviewing witnesses and assigning reporters and photographers to cover the story.
The Daily Nexus is an independent paper, while The Bottom Line is funded via student fees and is associated with the student government. The Bottom Line also receives support from the Center for American Progress, a liberal public policy think tank.
While I certainly empathize with the students at UCSB and cannot even begin to imagine what they must be experiencing, I cannot disagree more with the decision to purposely hold off from publishing a story. News is news, whether it be of the rainbows-and-kittens puff piece variety or the murder of several students. A person shouldn't sign up to work for a newspaper if the concept of reporting actual news in a timely manner will send them into "emotional harm."
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