Case Study Ethical Reporting of Incest

Topics: Ethics, 2008, Incest Pages: 4 (1345 words) Published: October 31, 2008
The story of John and Jennifer Deaves aired on Nine Network’s 60 Minutes program on 6 April 2008. Titled ‘Forbidden Love,’ it was concerned with genetic sexual attraction or GSA. The report’s poor ethical standards have attracted widespread criticism, including; the omission of relevant available information, use of misleading language, and the interviewing of children, all measures designed to present the story in a particular soft way, even though the material is highly controversial and deals with issues of legality and morality. This case study will highlight unethical standards in the report, discuss effects on stakeholders, and suggest better professional practice.

The story defined GSA as “an attraction that develops between people who, generally speaking, have not been raised together and don’t have a taboo”. The consensus of viewers and commentators was that the story was presented in such a way to present GSA as a common and normal, as opposed to illegal and immoral - although admittedly “many” people would find it so. Clause one of the Media Entertainment Arts Alliance (MEAA) code of ethics states that journalists should: “report and interpret honestly, striving for accuracy, fairness and disclosure of all relevant facts”. A number of key facts were omitted from the story. In the interview the couple gives the impression they had but three brief encounters before they fell in love eight years ago. Mr Deaves ex-wife shortly revealed the couple had been in continual contact since Jennifer was 15. Journalist Andrew Bolt suggests this exposes an incestuous predator rather than a GSA victim: “Overton hid, ignored or overlooked facts that showed Deaves might have groomed his daughter when she was still a child, and that harm he’s caused since with his incest might have in fact been deadly”. Although now the parents of toddler Celeste, the couple had another child that died shortly after birth of a congenital heart defect. This was omitted from the...

References: 60 Minutes Fordbidden Love 2008, television program, Nine Network, 6 April
Bolt, A 2008, ‘Kiss and tell just rubbish’, Herald Sun 11April 2008
Media Arts and Entertainment Alliance 2008, Media Alliance Code of Ethics, viewed September 1 2008,
Media Watch 2008, television program, ABC1, 14 April
Media Arts and Entertainment Alliance 2008, Media Alliance Code of Ethics, viewed September 1 2008,
Roy Morgan International 2008, Image of Professions Survey: Nurses more ethical (again) – Politicians and journalists looked upon more favourably, viewed 1 September 2008,
Emerson, D 2008, ‘Incest pair: 60 Minutes investigated’, Sydney Morning Herald 9 April 2008,
Meade, A 2008, ‘60 Minutes omits dead baby from report on incest couple’ Australian 9 April 2008,
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