Journalists need to tread carefully when reporting certain stories, especially when a family tragedy is involved. They need to weigh the public’s need to know against the concerns of the family. And most of all, they need to be fair. Well, you can give the Associated Press a FAIL on their reporting of the deaths of Dr. Viswanathan Rajaraman and his wife, Dr. Mary Sundaram.
A small plane crashed into a cornfield and caught fire early Sunday, killing the parents of a former Harvard University student who lost a $500,000 book contract because parts of her first novel were copied from other works. [Link]
It’s been five years since Kaavya’s scandal and it seems unseemly to bring it up in the very first paragraph of an article that should have focused on the death of a brilliant and beloved neurosurgeon. In fact, I wonder if it’s necessary to mention it at all. Perhaps it is, but you can argue that the death of two doctors in a plane crash is newsworthy enough, without bringing up their daughter’s much-publicized but well-in-the-past literary sin. In any case, the Indo-Asian News Service seems to have handled the article better than the AP, even if they didn’t do much original reporting themselves.
Here are just a couple of comments about Dr. Rajaraman from a NewjerseyNewsroom.com article.
Dr. Raj was an awesome man… Very nice, friendly, smartest DR. I have ever had the pleasure to work with & for. I still dont want to believe this horrible news. Dr. Raj used to always come to my desk and ask me for Chocolate, and we used to laugh.. I will never, ever forget you… May you and your beautiful wife REST IN PEACE….. GONE BUT NEVER FORGOTTEN…. (Paola S)
The surgery Dr. Rajaraman performed on me changed my life. Such a kind man. I feel blessed to have met him. Such a loss to the world. My deepest condolences to the entire family. (D. Mariniello)