Does the newspaper bear some responsibility?

Horrible news out of Los Angeles earlier this week: a teacher committed suicide, devastating friends, students and family members.

It happened not long after fifth-grade teacher Rigoberto Ruelas received less-than-stellar ratings in a landmark review of teachers published by the Los Angeles Times.

There was some discussion in journalism circles afterward: was the rating a factor in why the teacher killed himself? Does the paper thus bear any responsibility? If the rating was related to the suicide, should the paper not publish such things in the future? Or does the paper have a responsibility to publish relevant information–news–and it’s just a sad coda, what happened?

And another question that I’ve been wondering about….If you think that the newspaper is at fault, even just partially, do you also hold accountable the media outlets who dissected in detail the lives of celebrities who killed themselves (a la Heath Ledger)? Can something be done? Should something be done, or does that come scarily close to censorship?

I don’t have the answers, or purport to have the answers, just so you know. I’m just asking questions. And I’m very sad about Mr. Ruelas and all the people who cared about him.


About jenniferlarsonwrites

I'm a freelance writer and editor based in Nashville, Tennessee. I have a master's degree in journalism from the University of Maryland and a bachelor's degree in English from Rhodes College. I'm a born-and-bred Southerner who spent a few years in Southern California, a rabid baseball fan and a would-be grower of tomatoes. You can also visit me at LinkedIn or on Twitter at @JenniferLarson.
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