To the Editor:
I have read the Times for most of my life. I used to write for the Times. I won a NEPA (the predecessor to NENPA) award for the Times. But I don’t intend to pay for the one-sided, inflammatory coverage I’ve too often found in its pages of late.
The Society of Professional Journalists, a body over 100 years old, has established a Code of Ethics: four guiding principles for journalists who wish to take the high road in their craft, where the view is usually better anyway.
The second of these principles is “Minimize harm.” To meet this benchmark, journalists are encouraged to:
“Balance the public’s need for information against potential harm or discomfort.
“Show compassion for those who may be affected by news coverage.
“Recognize that legal access to information differs from an ethical justification to publish.
“Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity.”
There are gratuitous details in some recent stories which have caused severe, lasting harm to people and which do not edify the public, unless your goal is to erode any remaining trust in our institutions, our public officials, and humanity in general.
On the other hand there are salient details, and perspectives, which have been left out. It’s surreal to see the same quite flagrantly biased sources in story after story, while sources who could provide valuable countervailing information aren’t heard from at all. That’s covered in the first SPJ principle, by the way: “Seek truth and report it.”
One more thing: “Tree of death”? You know most of the Tisbury School students can read, right?
Looking forward to a return to the ethical guideposts which should be the goal of every serious newspaper. At that time, I will happily subscribe to the MV Times.