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Argonaut Explains Suicide Coverage

The editors of the University of Idaho Argonaut explain why the student newspaper provided only the skimpiest of details re: a recent suicide on campus:

The Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics says journalists should “seek truth and report it,” but also “minimize harm.” When covering sensitive issues such as student death, The Argonaut makes decisions based on this principle.There are several misconceptions surrounding the suicide on campus Jan. 19. There are also misconceptions about the way news organizations cover suicide. Suicide is a dark, personal and sensitive subject. The decision about how to report it is not black and white. More here.

Question: Our newspaper doesn't cover suicides unless there's some overriding reason that prompts us to do so — for example, the occurrence of the suicide in a public situation. I suspect most people support this policy of non-coverage. Do you?

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About this blog

D.F. Oliveria is a columnist and blogger for The Spokesman-Review. Print Huckleberries is a past winner of the Herb Caen Memorial Column contest by the National Association of Newspaper Columnists. The Readership Institute of Northwestern University cited this blog as a good example of online community journalism.

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