Words of the Dying: CHCH TV and Constable Garrett Styles
CSJ-12-0045.0CC This contributed case examines whether CHCH TV (outside Toronto) should broadcast the dying words of a police officer whose last thoughts were for the welfare of the teenagers who had dragged him to his death. The case counterposes concern for the privacy of the family/individual against the public’s interest in the officer, Constable Garrett Styles.
Students will have a chance to discuss what constitutes public interest. Constable Styles’ final words were captured by a website that monitors police radio channels; they were already in the public domain. His actions reflected a selflessness that was exemplary. But neither he nor the police dispatcher had given consent for their words to be broadcast. On the other hand, the story of his death had attracted considerable public attention in the CHCH viewing area, and the recording contributed significantly to the full picture of this heroic public protector.
Students will be put in the shoes of Producer Debbie Walker as she confronts a decision in the final minutes of the evening news program about whether or not to use the tape.
This case is suitable for a course/class about ethics; editorial decisionmaking; or local reporting.
Credits: This case was written by Carly Conway, Carly Lewis, Sarah Ratchford and Manori Ravindran of Ryerson University under the guidance of Kirsten Lundberg, Director, for the Case Consortium @ Columbia. The faculty sponsor was Professor Ivor Shapiro, Chair, School of Journalism, Faculty of Communication and Design, Ryerson University. (1012)
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