You will come to realise that unlike other losses, the grief associated with homicide is not private. When a homicide occurs, it quickly becomes public information; in fact, some families endure the horror of finding out their loved one has died through the media – even before the police have notified them.
In 2006, after concerns arose about the level of integrity in Journalism when reporting on homicides, QHVSG held a Media Evening. This was attended by several media representatives, in addition to members of the Department of Public Prosecutions, and members of Queensland Police. Several realisations came from that evening including:
- Journalists are bound by a Code of Ethics (detailed below)
- Complaints regarding either journalist’s or media’s behavior can be made to the Australian Press Council www.presscouncil.org.au/pcsite/complaints/process.html
- Journalists are under pressure to air stories, if they cannot speak to you, they will often speak to other people associated with the case who may not have accurate information. As a living victim of homicide you can overcome this by releasing a statement from your family
- Once a photo has been released to the media, they have the authority to use this photo to support other stories, meaning you and your family may sit down to read the weekend paper and find a photo of your loved one printed
- If you are unhappy with a certain photograph of video extract of your loved one being aired, you have the right to contact that media outlet, and ask to have the image replaced with another of your choosing
- You and your family also have the right to negotiate editorial rights over your story. Some magazines / newspapers offer this, others don’t. It is recommended you negotiate this beforehand, with a view to approving the final copy before it runs to print, this means there are no surprises when the story is aired