St. Louis Post-Dispatch apologizes for linking to video of police officer death - iMediaEthics

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The St. Louis Post-Dispatch headquarters in 2012 (Credit: Wikipedia/ Marcus Qwertyus)

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch published a link to a video showing the fatal shooting of a police officer.

The video was published on Facebook Live by a store clerk and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch “briefly” linked to it. Now, the Post-Dispatch has published a lengthy apology in print and online for breaking the Society of Professional Journalists’ ethics standards.

iMediaEthics wrote to the Post-Dispatch, which pointed to its full apology, posted below.

According to a separate Post-Dispatch article, the officer was shot after being called to a store to investigate a potential bad check. The clerk “live-streamed for more than two minutes, showing two women comforting the police officer until two police officers arrived.” The clerk told the Post-Dispatch she regrets recording the video and “didn’t know the officer was going to die.”

“An editor, not a reporter, briefly posted a link to the Facebook Live video in an online story on STLtoday.com, then deleted it a short time later,” the Post-Dispatch stated. “The clerk later deleted the Facebook Live video.”

The apology noted, “The Post-Dispatch embraces ethical standards set by the Society of Professional Journalists, which include to “minimize harm” and “show compassion for those who may be affected by news coverage.” Linking to that Facebook Live video violated those standards.”

Accordin to the Associated Press, a suspect has been charged with Langsdorf’s murder.

The full apology reads:

“The St. Louis Post-Dispatch made a serious error in judgment Sunday in its online coverage of the fatal shooting of North County Police Cooperative Officer Michael Langsdorf.

“Our newspaper apologizes to the Langsdorf family, members of law enforcement and our readers for making a major mistake in covering a tragedy.

“A store clerk at Clay’s Wellston Food Market Restaurant recorded the aftermath of the fatal shooting in which an armed suspect struggled with Officer Langsdorf. The clerk called police for help and posted that video of the graphic shooting aftermath to Facebook Live.

“The Post-Dispatch had multiple reporters and photographers covering the shooting Sunday in Wellston. An editor, not a reporter, briefly posted a link to the Facebook Live video in an online story on STLtoday.com, then deleted it a short time later. The clerk later deleted the Facebook Live video.

“The online link to the video should not have been shared on STLtoday.com.

“The Post-Dispatch embraces ethical standards set by the Society of Professional Journalists, which include to “minimize harm” and “show compassion for those who may be affected by news coverage.” Linking to that Facebook Live video violated those standards.

“The Post-Dispatch newsroom demands its journalists follow high ethical standards. Although done without malice, this judgment error failed to meet our ethical standards.”

The Post-Dispatch editors are reviewing and re-emphasizing ethical standards that we must use when linking and sharing online content.

“The slaying of Officer Langsdorf was a terrible tragedy. The Post-Dispatch regrets and apologizes for causing pain to the Langsdorf family and law enforcement officers.”

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St. Louis Post-Dispatch apologizes for linking to video of police officer death

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