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Oct 9, 2010 11:50 AM by Stacy Neumann

TV station's conduct questioned

Representatives from a local school district say they are "shocked" that a news crew from a Denver TV station would give two of their students a ride home in their news van to pick up a year book.  It happened during the investigation and aftermath of a suicide and double murder in Colorado Springs.

Two of the victims, 13 year old twins Chase and Olivia Ogden, attended the Galileo School of Math and Science.  Administrators with Colorado Springs School District 11 say that a news crew from Denver Fox affiliate KDVR Channel 31 took advantage of two students when they convinced them to ride in their news van back home to pick up the year books for photos of the victims.

"This is not only unethical, but it's scary," said district communications director Elaine Naleski.

She says her job is to protect students in the aftermath of such a tragic event. While she acknowledges that media coverage in these cases will be extensive, she hopes the journalists act ethically and compassionately.

Media were not allowed on to the Galileo campus following of the murders and Naleski feels the KDVR news team overstepped their boundaries.

"I was angry and the principal of the school was just beside herself," Naleski said.

Kelly McBride is an ethics group leader at the Poynter Institute, a think tank and school for journalism agrees with Naleski. She says the news reporters should have known better.

"A child does not have the ability to consent to be a part of a story about something really, really serious, like murder," McBride said.

She went on to call the act an adult boundaries issue and not journalism-ethics issue.  "You don't put children in your car that you don't know," McBride said.

She said a reasonable alternative would include asking the student their address and agreeing to meet them at home, or requesting that the student call their parents to ask for permission.

News First 5 put in a number of calls to Fox 31 but we have not been able to speak to anyone.  Naleski said the parents have been informed that they can take civil action against the station. 

She also wants parents to understand that the media release they sign at school does not mean anyone in the media can walk up and talk to their child.  That specific media release is intended only for the district's use.

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