Using Borrowed Videos image

By Casey Bukro

Ethics AdviceLine for Journalists

A Chicago television station used a YouTube video showing a group of minors taunting a suspect sitting in the back seat of a Chicago police car.

The video apparently was taken with a phone camera. It was posted on YouTube and quickly taken down. The TV station already posted the video, but asked the Ethics AdviceLine for Journalists if should have.

What’s your decision?

An AdviceLine advisor said he would have advised against using it. This type of content often is seen in blogs and YouTube postings, and they do not follow professional journalism ethical standards. Among the reasons for not using the video was minors were identifiable and it came from an unknown source.

The Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics urges journalists to be cautious about identifying juveniles and when dealing with children.


The Ethics AdviceLine for Journalists was founded in 2001 by the Chicago Headline Club (Chicago professional chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists) and Loyola University Chicago Center for Ethics and Social Justice. It partnered with the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 2013. It is a free service.

Professional journalists are invited to contact the Ethics AdviceLine for Journalists for guidance on ethics. Call 866-DILEMMA or

Visit the Ethics AdviceLine blog for more.