Mallary Tenore and Kelly McBride



How to think about interviewing children in traumatic situations like Newtown shooting

As television networks interview child survivors of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, people get angry. They see reporters interviewing children in Newtown, Conn., as manipulative, and they worry about the child’s vulnerability.

I don’t think it is inherently wrong to interview children after a traumatic event like this,” Poynter senior ethics faculty Kelly McBride told Huffington Post.

Reporters need to first decide if a competent adult is present to determine whether a child should be interviewed, and if that adult is working in the child’s best interest.

As guidelines developed by Poynter faculty Al Tompkins advise, ask yourself:

  • What is my journalistic purpose in interviewing this juvenile?
  • What motivations does the juvenile have in cooperating with this interview?
  • How do you know that what this young person says is true?
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