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Was 72 hours long enough?

by on September 20, 2016

After the Orlando shooting on June 12, 2016, unauthorized journalists were allowed to enter the house of Oman Mateen, the man who terrorized Pulse nightclub. The Palm Beach Post said that the FBI searched the apartment on a Sunday night, and on Monday morning reporters came and noticed the back door open. According to Fort Pierce Police, the entering into the home was a break-in. The Palm Beach Post said that none of their reporters entered the home but they were on the premise.

I find it unethical that journalists entered private property that was under inspection of the FBI and police and shuffled through belongings. The Miami Herald said that the FBI allowed the media to enter after searching the home, but the police were called late Monday morning and said that the condo was broken into.

This is not the first time a case like this happened.  After the San Bernardino shootings in December 2015, MSNBC, CNN and other news stations entered the home of the shooters. Although in this scenario, the FBI had given the ownership back to the landlord.  The landlord allowed some news organizations into the home, but said others then “stormed in.”  Journalists who watched the report live in the home found it “jarring” that reporters and photographers were shuffling through photo albums and personal documents.

According to the First Amendment, journalists are not protected to trespass and enter the private property and report what is in there. It does not matter if anything in there was reported, but the act of trespassing alone is illegal and punishable.

From what was reported inside Mateen’s home by ABC, the home was messy due to police investigation. I believe that it was unethical for the journalists to enter the home since it was still under investigation and was private property.


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  1. I agree that the journalists were unethical in their decision to enter the home and go through personal belongings, especially when there was still an investigation going on and they did not have permission. Unless there was something very important in the home, the public does not have much of a “right to know” or a need in this situation. What they have in the home, especially after the police and FBI already went through, probably is not worth the consequences the journalists could face legally, because it is most likely not imperative that the public knows what their home looks like. The public is probably very curious, just because it is human nature, but it is not a necessity.

  2. While I fully see your concerns with the matter of journalists entering a home soon soon, and especially while it is still under investigation. I cannot help but think that in this circumstance, if I was reporting I would do the same and not refuse the opportunity to enter.

    As journalists we are a middle man between the events and the people. As a consumer of the news, I see journalists as the bridge of who I expect to enter the places and speak to the people that I do not have access to.

  3. Lucy permalink

    I don’t see a reason why journalists would need to enter the home of Mateen while it was still under investigation, even if they allegedly gained permission to do so by the police.

    I find that it goes against journalistic principle to release information prematurely — it may spread misinformation and misconception.

    But even if we were to disregard the danger of reporting while an investigation is still under way, the footage shows nothing of interest to the public . It’s a tour of Mateen’s house. In the first few seconds, the reporter points out the master bedroom and closet. Even if you can’t speak Spanish, you can tell that this looks like an ordinary house.

    The majority of the 49 victims at the Pulse nightclub were Latinx. If I had to justify why Univision, a Spanish-American news network, would enter Mateen’s home, I would assume that it would be to attract the Latinx audience who had been feeling particularly targeted, outraged and vulnerable.

    But again, there’s nothing in the footage that could bring closure to the family members and friends who lost their loved ones at the gay nightclub.

    Most of all, I question the decision of ABC to share the video on their channel. I don’t see what’s so important in the footage that it needs to be syndicated on another, larger network. All I see is that it would peak the interest of people who feel scared and upset or even simply curious as to who the mass killer was. Even then, I don’t think this footage could satiate that hunger.

    Perhaps storytelling and interviews could get us closer.

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