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Journalists, never post something like this on social media

Journalists have a duty to be fair and always deliver the news without bias. That goes for in print and online.

This photo should go in the training manuals for all journalists and aspiring journalists under the heading “NEVER DO THIS!”

badpostThe quick back story: A doctor was previously convicted for selling human bones to doctor offices. He earned the nickname “Body Snatcher.” At his trial, a prosecutor cried because of how emotional the case was. Family members of victims came forward one after another saying how he sold the bones from coffins without their knowledge. All in all, it’s a horrible case.

But journalists need to keep it together. They can’t show emotion. They have one job, and that one job is to report the news. They are not allowed to share their opinion, for their opinion doesn’t matter.

So how did this post happen? “Doctor who illegally sold human bones to medical offices develops horrible, karma-appropriate disease”

Karma-appropriate. Wow. More like inappropriate. And quite possibly the most inappropriate statement or post made by a news organization on social media that I have seen in my career. I don’t know who is in charge of the Facebook page at WPIX, which, by the way, is a Tribune Company station.

Don’t take my word for it. Here’s part of a comment from a fan on the WPIX Facebook page:

“Also, since when do news outlets report people developing an illness as karmatic? That’s some fine journalism guys.”

Excellent question. We don’t. And we shouldn’t. Not for this story and not for any story.

I spent a week teaching at the University of Nebraska in March and I know that not a single student would do something like this.

I call on WPIX to post an apology to readers on its Facebook wall. It’s the only right thing to do in this situation.

What do you think? Appropriate or over the line? Tell me in the comments or give me a shout on the ol’ Twitter.

About Scott Kleinberg

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