Right To Privacy In News Media

News involving minors can always be a touchy subject. Especially when crimes are being committed by minors. School shootings are unfortunately now a fabric of the United States. The phenomena has been at its highest for nearly 25 years now and it doesn’t appear to be going away. On February 4, there was another shooting at a high school in Maryland.(“2 wounded in school shooting in Maryland – CNN.com”)

The question is, during the unravellings of a heinous crime, does the media release the name of the shooter and even more controversially, the potential victims that are minors.

On one hand, in a situation where lives are potentially put at risk, people have a right to now. On the other, these are underage individuals whose identities should arguably be protected. The norm in today’s media is unclear. In a case like Columbine or Sandy Hook, where a live feed is set up and the moments either during or directly after the shooting are being broadcast, identities of suspects are speculated on. Sometimes these speculations are incorrect. A great example of that was during the Sandy Hook coverage, Adam Lanza, the actual shooter, was misnamed. His brother Ryan was named as the shooter in the case. (“Media Mess-Ups: Who’s Who of Sandy Hook School Shooting Reporting Errors, Part 1”)

This was a huge faux pax and created more anguish for the Lanza family than necessary. Adam Lanza was even an adult, 20, at the time of the shooting. If the media can’t make proper identifications with adults, then what makes them equipped to start releasing names of minors that are perpetrators.

It is all up to the discretion of the publication at the end of the day. (“Statement of Journalistic Ethics”)

From the book’s examples, it places even more pressure on the publication. With the four broad frameworks in place to protect privacy, a misstep like the Sandy Hook case coverage would be a direct violation of privacy.

People should know what is around them, but only if the people communicating information to them are responsible enough to do the job right and not violate something like privacy, which is valuable to many people.


Statement of Journalistic Ethics. (n.d.). Retrieved February 6, 2015, from http://www.dailypress.com/dp-privacy-htmlstory.html

2 wounded in school shooting in Maryland – CNN.com. (n.d.). Retrieved February 6, 2015, from http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/04/us/maryland-high-school-shooting/index.html

Media Mess-Ups: Who’s Who of Sandy Hook School Shooting Reporting Errors, Part 1. (n.d.). Retrieved February 6, 2015, from http://www.imediaethics.org/News/3663/Media_mess-ups__whos_who_of_sandy_hook_school_shooting_reporting_errors__part_1.php