With every type of crime, reporters have to be careful about what they report on, in case they say things that could affect the result of a trial in court. As a victim of crime, you also have to be careful about what you say publicly. For example, you might say something that a court decides would make it impossible for the accused to get a fair trial, which could lead to the case being dropped.
Some points to consider:
- Journalists are under pressure to air stories and if they cannot speak to the victims’ families, they will often speak to friends or others associated with the case who don’t have accurate information. Victims of homicide may overcome this by releasing a statement from the family; speak with the Police officer in charge of your case before you do this.
- The media can sometimes assist in police inquires but the attention may be intrusive. For example, they may follow you home, pretend to be someone other than the media, sit outside your driveway, take photos etc. when you are grieving, or you may hear or read something about your families and friends that is disturbing.
- Once a photo has been released to the media, they have the authority to use this photo to support other stories, and the families will have no control over how and when the photo may appear. If families are unhappy with a certain photograph or video extract of their loved one being aired, they have the right to contact that media outlet, and ask to replace that with another of the family’s choice.
- Families have the right to negotiate editorial rights over their story. Some magazines/newspapers offer this, others don’t. It is recommended that families negotiate this upfront, with a view to approving the final copy before it runs to print, this means there are no surprises when the story is aired. The media do not always have your best interests in mind.
Journalists are bound by a Code of Ethics. Click on the links if you are concerned about how you are being treated by media practices.
If you have any complaints regarding the media’s behaviour, you may direct them to: