Do news agencies often commit detraction?


Would news agencies, or specifically the people involved in writing a specific article, be committing the sin of detraction by writing an article about something like a murder or robbery, assuming there is no justifiable reason for their actions (i.e. public safety, etc.). We’re assuming, of course, that they gave the name of the person who committed the act in the article and the person is known for a fact to have committed the act. Furthermore, would one be committing the sin of detraction his or herself if, after reading the article, he or she revealed its contents to someone who they believed had not yet read the article if the person had no legitimate reason of doing so?


ncw98 said** : “Would news agencies, or specifically the people involved in writing a specific article, be committing the sin of detraction by writing an article about something like a murder or robbery, assuming there is no justifiable reason for their actions (i.e. public safety, etc.).”
This ISSUE seems unclearly defined** :**

  1. A Newspaper (let’s say the New York Times) publishes an Article**;**
  2. It is about a man who is a Suspect in a Murder investigation**;**
  3. But, that this is a Sin of Distraction**;** because
  4. The Murder has NOTHING to do with Public Safety.

If this is what you are claiming as the Scenario for an example of the Sin of Distraction, you are claiming that a Murder Suspect (running around on the Streets) is NOT a Public Safety Issue.

I don’t think this is what you are claiming … but, based upon your Allegations, I would say that the Newspaper (or the Reporter who wrote the Article) is NOT guilty of violating the Sin of Distraction.

And, Second, :"Furthermore, would one be committing the sin of detraction herself if, after reading the article, she revealed its contents to someone who they believed had not yet read the article…?"

People (being People) “need” things to talk about with OTHER People.
A usual Topic for Discussion is what is happening in the News.
So, either EVERYONE in the Human Race is GUILTY of the Sin of Distraction (just for talking about things they Believe are TRUE) … or, it is NOT a Sin of Distraction.
My Opinion is, it is NOT a Sin of Distraction.
But, part of this is based upon your mis-guided example.

I think you have been distracted when discussing detraction…

It is not detraction to report the news that someone has been arrested for or is being investigated for a crime. Nor to discuss such news. We should always remember that such persons may not actually be guilty. The law presumes innocence until proven guilty in a court of law.

Actions which are a matter of public record–arrests, convictions, etc, can certainly be reported on without detraction.

Personal matters are more problematic. Are the personal failings of public figures really my business? Probably not.

For example, in the 1960’s, all the White House reporters were aware of the women that the president sometimes brought into the Whitehouse for one night stands. Such things were never reported, because it was considered personal, not news.

Sometimes ‘personal’ has public relevance - Kennedy’s liaisons deceived his wife and took advantage of his public position which in many people’s eyes would have made him less than trustworthy.

Of course he was murdered before his behaviour was widely reported, but had he lived his reputation would probably have been as tarnished eventually as that of Clinton with regards to being unable to keep his trousers zipped.

True enough, but there’s reporting, and then there’s “reporting.” Take the Duke lacrosse case: the media whipped up a frenzy of unfounded speculation that played to the politically-correct prejudices of the country, said reporting driving a mass of knee-jerk reactions by both Duke and the state prosecutor. At the end of the affair, the charges were withdrawn, the prosecutor disbarred, and Duke paid a massive settlement - perhaps in the neighborhood of $60 million - to the affected boys. In this era of the never-ending 24-hour news cycle and unending web pages to fill, much of what the media “reports” is the echo of its own voice.

I agree entirely. In the past, reporters were much more circumspect in jumping to conclusions and reporting sensationalist information.

And are politicians personal peccadillos really news?


2494 The information provided by the media is at the service of the common good.285 Society has a right to information based on truth, freedom, justice, and solidarity:

The proper exercise of this right demands that the content of the communication be true and - within the limits set by justice and charity - complete. Further, it should be communicated honestly and properly. This means that in the gathering and in the publication of news, the moral law and the legitimate rights and dignity of man should be upheld.286 

2496 The means of social communication (especially the mass media) can give rise to a certain passivity among users, making them less than vigilant consumers of what is said or shown. Users should practice moderation and discipline in their approach to the mass media. They will want to form enlightened and correct consciences the more easily to resist unwholesome influences.

2497 By the very nature of their profession, journalists have an obligation to serve the truth and not offend against charity in disseminating information. They should strive to respect, with equal care, the nature of the facts and the limits of critical judgment concerning individuals. They should not stoop to defamation.

Yes, but if you look at how the public reacts and even the police, it is clear they treat people as guilty until proven innocent, even the media is guilty of this!!!

The PROOF of this is all the people that have ever been wrongly sent to prison and then later found innocent and released, this is enough for me to see that they consider someone guilty until proven innocent.

I know in past times, it was not this way though, but in modern time, sadly, this is how people are treated.

Furthermore, I truly think our entire law enforcement agencies need a major overhaul to deal with this and other problems. They really need to go back to square one and look at the Constitution and start over.

I generally think reading the news and repeating it to other people is fine with the exception of most celebrity news. These are personal things like people having affairs, getting divorced, or badmouthing other celebrities. I count a lot political comments in this too. Republicans and Democrats bashing each other every day. It’s just not information we need to know, so I feel repeating it to someone else would have some culpability for detraction. I avoid celebrity news for this reason. As others said, news of crimes committed is a matter of public safety. It cannot be detraction.

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