Following the latest blog by Chris Wheal about death knocking and suggesting a new protocol, the Press Complaints Commission has highlighted the advice it gives to the public following a death that will attract media attention.
It states: "Newspapers and magazines often publish stories about people who have died, particularly if the death happened in unusual circumstances. As a result, some degree of media attention may be inevitable. However, there are limits on what newspapers and magazines are allowed to do – these are set out in the Code of Practice. There are a number of provisions in the Code that may be relevant when reporting a death:
- The press must take care not to publish inaccurate or misleading information (Clause 1);
- In cases involving personal grief or shock, enquiries and approaches must be made with sympathy and discretion and publication handled sensitively (Clause 5, i);
- The press must not include excessive detail when reporting suicide, in order to minimise the risk of copycat cases (Clause 5, ii).
"The PCC is always happy to offer advice on a confidential basis on the telephone. If you are worried about a story you think will be published, you can contact us for advice. The PCC cannot order newspapers not to go ahead with a story but we can certainly help you to ensure that your position has been taken into account at the publication concerned. We will either advise you how to deal with the newspaper or magazine directly or, in some cases, pass on specific concerns to the relevant publication. There is no need to make a formal complaint to use this service."