Title

THE BTK KILLER AND THE MEDIA: THE ETHICS OF SHARING INFORMATION WITH THE POLICE

Presenter Information

Julia Lillegard

Presentation Type

Presentation

Abstract

Dennis Rader is a convicted serial killer. In 2005, he pleaded guilty to killing ten people from to 1991 in the Wichita, Kansas area. He gave himself the name “BTK,” which stands for “Blind Torture Kill.”

Throughout his killing career, Rader was in contact with both the police and the media. He delivered cryptic packages and notes with graphic details about his killings to the local news outlets. Such packages and information could provide valuable clues to the police in order to help track down the killer. In fact, information gathered from Rader's communication led to his identification and eventual conviction. However, the American media is supposed to serve as a watchdog, independent from the government and law enforcement. The media's relinquishment of information to the police and compliance with law enforcement could damage the media's ability to remain autonomous.

I want to use the case of Dennis Rader to explore the ethical implications of the media sharing information with the police, if and when it is acceptable, and any potential ramifications of those actions. I plan to research this topic in order to write a research paper of approximately four pages and prepare a class presentation lasting approximately 25 minutes. I will condense my presentation in order to present it at UMCUR.

Category

Humanities

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Apr 15th, 10:40 AM Apr 15th, 11:00 AM

THE BTK KILLER AND THE MEDIA: THE ETHICS OF SHARING INFORMATION WITH THE POLICE

UC 330

Dennis Rader is a convicted serial killer. In 2005, he pleaded guilty to killing ten people from to 1991 in the Wichita, Kansas area. He gave himself the name “BTK,” which stands for “Blind Torture Kill.”

Throughout his killing career, Rader was in contact with both the police and the media. He delivered cryptic packages and notes with graphic details about his killings to the local news outlets. Such packages and information could provide valuable clues to the police in order to help track down the killer. In fact, information gathered from Rader's communication led to his identification and eventual conviction. However, the American media is supposed to serve as a watchdog, independent from the government and law enforcement. The media's relinquishment of information to the police and compliance with law enforcement could damage the media's ability to remain autonomous.

I want to use the case of Dennis Rader to explore the ethical implications of the media sharing information with the police, if and when it is acceptable, and any potential ramifications of those actions. I plan to research this topic in order to write a research paper of approximately four pages and prepare a class presentation lasting approximately 25 minutes. I will condense my presentation in order to present it at UMCUR.