Sensitivity about sensitive news topics

29 Feb

Writing about things that causes society to speak in hushed murmurs – from rape to death to mental illnesses – can be a tricky subject.

Sure, there are lots of different reasons to cover such topics.

However, one must take these matters seriously, and writers need to ensure they remain respectful about such private matters.

While a person’s death might cause a stir in the newsroom, reporters must keep the deceased’s loved ones in mind and respect their privacy. Grief and mourning are personal things that do not need to be broadcast to the nation.

Even more, sometimes there are complications, which perpetuate a deathly situation into an embarrassing one.

For example, the story of Jeanette Sliwinski is a tragic one. A former model supposedly wanted to commit suicide, and she failed in that attempt but is being charged with the death of three others. This story combines death and, most likely, mental health issues.

But alas, the seriousness and sensitivity of the story is put aside for readers to gape at the blaring grammatical errors in this story’s initial format. While the story is short and factual, it becomes a laughing joke due to all the copy errors.

Though dealing with sensitive topics in news stories can be a tricky dance to learn, reporters should at least have the common courtesy of presenting the facts without glaring grade-school grammar mistakes. A well-edited story should be the basis for presenting such devastating topics as untimely deaths and suicide attempts in a respectful manner.


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