AP policy on reporting suicides, spelled out in the AP Stylebook, is “to not go into detail on the methods used.” There has been a robust discussion in our newsrooms about what this means — how far do we go in discussing methods of suicide by celebrities? Are we depriving readers of essential information on a story if we are too opaque?
We are living in an era of sophisticated propaganda coming from many directions, including various extremist groups, advocacy organizations and governments.
Sometimes it is necessary to quote from the propaganda of organizations such as the Islamic State group, or from governments such as North Korea. Before we do so, we should ask some basic questions.
Should journalists just report what they know and leave law enforcement to take action later, or tip off police before their story is published? What if sources say it’s fine to use their names and faces, but don’t seem to fully understand the risks? How do reporters cover a freed slave’s reunion with his family, when the reporters’ work led to his freedom?