Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Press used Facebook for quotes on boy's death

Journalist Chris Wheal told BBC Radio 4's The Media Show today how journalists took quotes from his sister's Facebook page when writing stories about the death of her nine-year-old son in a freak accident.

Chris said his sister had declined to speak to journalists but: "They got lots of stuff from her Facebook page, quoting her from Facebook. I understand, I am a journalist, she should have set her privacy settings differently".

He added the family were not prepared for the accumulative effect of so many journalists being interested in the story and "felt they were being targeted." They were also not prepared for media interest to return when the inquest was held weeks after the accident.

Presenter Steve Hewlett read an apology from a news agency journalist who had contacted the family not knowing that the Press Complaints Commission had issued a notice saying they wanted to be left alone.

Chris repeated his view that PCC notices don't reach agencies, freelances and magazines. He also said families likely to be the target of "death knocking" need to be told what to expect from the media.

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