Note to journalists: STOP writing about your relatives

There are few things more disgusting in journalism than people who use their privilege and position at a newspaper or online media to constantly highlight their family members.

They exploit their proximity to the media in order to bring nepotistic spotlights on their family, when logically and in all fairness their family is no more important than the other billions of people out there.

There should be a policy, industry wide, in journalism that journalists be prevented from writing about family members without a compelling reason (e.g their cousin won a gold medal at the olympics). Otherwise the reality of the way family members end up being highlighted is merely nepotism.

There might be other compelling reasons, such as stories relating to addiction or other social ills where a relative suffered from homelessness, alcoholism, and this somehow helps to reveal the story of suffering of many people by providing a personal access to an account that otherwise would be difficult to find.

Otherwise extreme scrutiny should be used by media when it comes to relatives entering into the story. Is your relative’s story either so exemplary or so symbolic of the average that it has a place? The worst abuse occurs among columnists where standards are lower than in usual journalism and the public actually rewards personal anecdotes. But even here it is important to ask “why are your relatives always part of the story,” is it because you are using your position to give them exposure that they don’t deserve when there are millions of others who are more deserving? If you’re sister recently suffered racism, and that’s symbolic of the rising racist trend, maybe that’s a good story, but if you’re just trying to use your proximity to congratulate your relatives, you are harming the public at large.

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