NBC Nightly News Initially Fails to Blur Face of Knife-Wielding Juvenile

By A.J. Katz Comment

The broadcast news programs have covered the Hug High School shooting in Reno, Nevada since Wednesday. For those not familiar with the story, a 14 year old student was shot by a police officer on Wednesday morning, PST after he was seen running around the schoolyard waving a knife.

The boy was identified by his father as Logan Clark and as of Friday morning, Clark remains in critical condition. According to the Reno Gazette-Journal, the officer who shot the student is on paid administrative leave.

When a minor becomes the primary subject of a controversial story, whether it be a crime or a death, TV news journalism protocol is to blur his or her face out when showing footage of the ordeal. If this student was 17, then the networks would have likely shown the face. But he isn’t. NBC Nightly News failed to do this on Wednesday evening.

Here’s how ABC World News Tonight with David Muir handled footage of the incident when the news broke on Wednesday night, ET.

World News Tonight Reno Shooting

Here’s Good Morning America on Thursday:

 

good morning america reno shooting

 

Here’s how CBS This Morning handled it on Thursday:

CBS This Morning reno shooting

Unfortunately NBC Nightly News, the No. 1 evening newscast on TV among adults 25-54, did not blur the boy’s face when they first covered the incident on Wednesday evening.

NBC nightly news reno shooting no blue

It appears that Today fixed the error when they showed the body of the boy on Thursday morning:

today reno shooting blur

To their credit, Nightly News made the adjustment on Thursday as well:

nbc nightly news reno shooting blurred

 

Why exactly is this a big deal? Because it’s a kid. According to the Radio Television Digital News Association, “Newsrooms have to make tough decisions about when and how to identify juveniles who become involved in news stories. Some media companies have policies against identifying juveniles, but often those policies conflict with a reporter’s duty to seek truths and report them as fully as possible. On the other hand, juveniles deserve a special level of privacy protection. Crime victims and juveniles below teenage years deserve more protection because of their vulnerability.”

NBC News declined to comment.

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