Robbie Watson – News you Can’t use….

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Communication majors may already know there are certain times you have news but for a variety of reasons…you can’t actually use it.

For example, there is something called “prior restraint” where the Government can legally prevent broadcasting or publishing information and it has to meet a strict three prong test that includes national security interests, is it obscene or could broadcasting the material incite a riot…blah blah blah.

I for one am still waiting on the death photos of Osama Bin Laden because I think it’s just and necessary that we see his dead body…

but I digress.

Sometimes there are “juicy” stories that hit the newsroom that would surely catch the viewer’s interest but for a variety of reasons it might not see air time.

WLTZ was prepared to run an exclusive story on a high profile individual in Columbus when the individual called to request the station not air the single most salacious part of the interview.  A request to cut out the very reason the interview was conducted.

What is the ethical thing to do?

The interview would have been headline news that left tongues wagging and everyone talking about WLTZ’s report.

The station ultimately decided not to air the interview in it’s entirety per the individual’s request.  If someone was kind enough to grant the exclusive interview but had a change of heart I believe it is appropriate to honor the request.

That would never happen in DC..NY or likely any other major market but sometimes relationships with people are more important.

Was the content a matter of public safety or of pressing concern to the public?

No.

So that should make the decision easy. But it was juicy and nothing in news is EVER easy. If it is , you aren’t doing it right.

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