‘White Bear’ violates NPPA Code of Ethics

Natalie Seales
Oxford Stories

Most episodes of “Black Mirror” are a little disturbing, and “White Bear” is no exception. At first, it seems like a dystopia or post-apocalyptic world. After some reflection, I think what is often the most unsettling thing about the “White Bear” episode and so many other episodes of “Black Mirror” is you are kind of going through the experience with the character.

As the “woman” (who we later find out is named Victoria) goes through these odd and unexplained circumstances, we (the audience) are also trying to make sense of all the odd actions and interactions. You feel the panic, terror, and confusion right along with her.

The way the show is set up, you can’t help but imagine yourself in the woman’s situation? What if that was you? What would you do if you woke up with no memory, while having “hunters” chase you.

While there is no denying the heinous actions that were committed, the punishment that Victoria was facing seems to be a violation of ethics. A journalist’s job in its simplest form is to seek truth and report it, minimize harm, act independently, and be accountable and transparent. I don’t think that the journalists portrayed in “White Bear” could be said to have done any of those things.

Visual journalists also have incredibly high standards for ethics that also seem to be violated in the taping and broadcasting of Victoria’s situation. The point in the National Press Photographers Association Code of Ethics that stood out to me was “Treat all subjects with respect and dignity. Give special consideration to vulnerable subjects and compassion to victims of crime or tragedy. Intrude on private moments of grief only when the public has an overriding and justifiable need to see.”

While Victoria was no victim, the punishment for her actions seems to be against the American judicial system. She should not be made a spectacle. In this day and age of school shootings, it seems like the spectacle we make of the shooters borderline encourages more shootings. We should not be making these perpetrators famous. I always admire when newscasters refuse to report the name of the shooter. Victoria, like any other criminal, should not be made famous. Her daily punishment should not be made a spectacle.

Two more points in the NPPA Code of Ethics that really drive these points home are: “Avoid political, civic and business involvements or other employment that compromises or gives the appearance of compromising one’s own journalistic independence.” And, “Strive to be unobtrusive and humble in dealing with subjects.”

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