Johann Hari in the Independent today puts the media in the frame over its coverage of the hunt for fugative Raoul Moat and the shootings in the Northumbria. He writes: "The media has been lasciviously describing every blood-flecked cranny of the shooting incident in Northumbria this week, while blankly ignoring the most important question – did we help to pull the trigger? Every time there is a massacre by a mentally ill person, like Derrick Bird's last month, journalists are warned by psychologists that, if we are not very careful in our reporting, we will spur copycat attacks by more mentally ill people. We ignored their warnings. We reported the case in precisely the way they said was most risky. Are we now seeing the result?" He urges the Press Complaints Commission to take action: "Shouldn't the Press Complaints Commission develop strict guidelines now so we don't run this same slaughter-script next time? "If we don't, we will be making a cold calculation – that flashier front pages and extra revenue in a slow summer is more important to us than saving innocent lives. Is the British media more interested in making a killing than in preventing one?"
I am a freelance journalist based in the UK and was deputy editor of Press Gazette, the journalists' magazine, from 1993 until 2006. I want to give an independent view on media matters.
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