TV and print journalists generally don’t worry about the public relations ramifications of their reporting.
Still, it couldn’t help the reputation of the Fourth Estate—to say nothing of law enforcement—when a journalistic scrum overran the apartment of suspects in the San Bernardino mass shooting Friday and began live-broadcasting and -tweeting the scene.
Twitter erupted in outrage, and the reporters rifling through the apartment drew criticism from fellow journalists. Much of the dismay was directed at the FBI and local law enforcement officers who hadn’t secured the scene—less than 48 hours after the fatal shooting that killed 14.
Vanity Fair headlined its story, “TV Reporters Bumble Their Way Through San Bernardino Shooter’s Apartment,” calling it “one of the most bizarre moments in cable-news history.”