Dealing With The Media After A Homicide
Very Important To Consider
An important point to consider before speaking to the media - always check with the police in charge of your case beforehand, as you do not want anything you say to impact on the police investigation.
A journalist’s role involves getting all the information they need for the best possible story.
The media can be very persuasive and persistent however it is your choice if you want to speak with them. Journalism, (print, electronic and digital) is based on non-fiction writing.
The journalist has a duty to report facts, not interpret them or judge them. In that context the journalist will always try to get a counter view or comment so as to indicate the story has balance. Family members have no control or influence over this.
The media may try to contact families through social media such as Facebook and Twitter and will not always identify themselves as media.
Remember, it is your decision to speak with the media and you should not be put under pressure. Whilst a ‘Journalist Code of Ethics’ exists, it is not legally binding and is not exclusively adhered to by a journalist.
We in the Homicide Victims' Support Group have a great relationship with many journalists - if you would like us to help you to decide on who to speak to - we will be very happy to help you - alternately there are some journalists that we would definately recommend against - due to past negative experiences.
Be careful with information shared with family and friends in ‘confidence’ - they may not have the same level of understanding of the issues as you and if approached by the media it may present them with an opportunity to sound knowledgeable and important.
Be aware of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. They may be good mediums for instant communication but can easily get out of control. Whilst you may try to control your input you have no control over the input of respondees and commentators.
While it is true that you cannot defame a dead person, the family can be greatly hurt by the uncontrolled, ill-considered and sometimes vicious comments others make.
Consider other family members, particularly children with the same surname. Some family members may not want the wider community to be aware of the event or their connection with the facts.
When you are at court and during the breaks be aware what you are saying, even when talking on the phone. Whatever you say could be picked up by the media.
Speaking to the media before the matter has gone to court may jeopardise the case, seek advice from the police or HVSG before going ahead.