Much has been made of the recent involvement of news organizations going beyond standard journalistic roles while covering the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti.
That’s been especially true for the TV doctors. Bob Steele, a journalism values scholar at the Poynter Institute, tells the LA Times’ Matea Gold, “I think it’s very hard for an individual who is professionally and emotionally engaged in saving lives to be able to simultaneously step back from the medical work and practice independent journalistic truth-telling.”
“I may blur the rules of dispassionate journalism,” ABC News correspondent Dr. Richard Besser tells Gold, “but I think it would be impossible to be a true physician working as a journalist and not help when you can contribute.”
During his Monday Webchat, WaPo’s Howard Kurtz was asked, “Are there ethical questions — both medical and journalistic — that are being ignored here?” Kurtz says he has “mixed feelings” about it.
Gawker has raised, more sarcastically, its own questions about whether there is “something off-putting” about CNN’s on-camera “heroics.” While the NYTimes’ Alessandra Stanley wrote over the weekend,t “The line between compassion and self-congratulation is thin on television; in a calamity this vast and acute, many viewers flinch at any sign of reportorial showboating.” Mediaite’s Steve Krakauer, writing about Anderson Cooper’s co-hosting of this Friday’s multi-network telethon asks, “Has CNN entered gray area of becoming, not just reporting, the story in Haiti?”