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Murder in our MidstComparing Crime Coverage Ethics in an Age of Globalized News$
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Romayne Smith Fullerton and Maggie Jones Patterson

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780190863531

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190863531.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use.date: 26 January 2022

What the Watchdogs Watch, Why, and Why Watching Matters

What the Watchdogs Watch, Why, and Why Watching Matters

(p.89) 5 What the Watchdogs Watch, Why, and Why Watching Matters
Murder in our Midst

Crime Coverage

Oxford University Press

Watchdog reporters’ crime coverage practices are contrasted with those of the Protector countries; while the latter largely trust their institutions and government officials, Watchdogs do not. Thus, they routinely publish extensive details about an offense, an alleged perpetrator, and victims. This chapter explores how, on the one hand, these details can lead to an exploration of larger social issues, but, on the other hand, they can also lead to sensationalism. Watchdogs want few limits on transparency, but they can lose sight of what people need to know, and cater to capitalist ends, rather than sound, journalistic ones. Journalists in this model see their primary obligation as informing the people because sunlight is the best disinfectant. Using an historical perspective, we outline how the principles of the Enlightenment, the emphasis on the individual, and an abiding belief in peoples’ ability to be rational, underlie this ethical perspective and influence crime coverage choices.

Keywords:   journalism, Enlightenment ethics, tell-all journalism, transparency

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