Monday 9 August 2010

Chris Wheal: New protocol on death knocking

Chris Wheal has again blogged about death knocking and has called for a new protocol, based on his family's experience of dealing with the media following the death of his young nephew in an accident, ahead of a meeting he has with the Press Complaints Commission next week.
Among his suggestions for helping grieving families faced with journalists is that they are given a media advisor and a leaflet which would ask if they are:
  • Happy to sell the story to the highest bidder?
  • Happy to talk to each and every journalist interested?
  • Prepared to speak to one journalist only and have the information shared with the rest of the media?
  • Prepared to provide printed material only (including photographs)?
  • Wanting nothing to do with the press?
Chris also says: "The tradition is for the new, least experienced, barely qualified journalists to be given the death knocks. It is a right of passage, an initiation ceremony. It shouldn’t be. It is too important to be left to the least experienced.
"I have also had journalists tell me they left the profession because they hated doing the death knocks and I have had brand new regional journalists, just out of college, say it is the one thing they fear the most about their new jobs.
"Old timers – and I include myself in that – need to get it out of our brains that because we did something a certain way it must always be done that way. Death knocks call for someone with experience, sympathy and an ability to almost offer a pastoral, caring service."

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