Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

PCC Criticizes Newspaper for Breaching Code in Describing Suicide of Local Teacher

The Press Complaints Commission is criticizing a British paper for its coverage of a local man's suicide, pointing to what it considers insensitivity and the possibility of "copycat" deaths. The watchdog agency said that breach of the press code, specifically clause 5, which suggests that reporting on suicides should not include specific details of the death, was breached in this case. The newspaper responded that its article was accurate.

Said the PCC, "The Commission agreed with the complainant that the newspapers had included too much detail in describing how the suicide happened. Inquests are held in public and newspapers are free to report their proceedings, but to abide by the terms of the Code – which sets out standards over and above the legal framework – the papers should on this occasion have been less specific about the method used. By going into such detail, there was a danger that sufficient information was included to spell out to others how to carry out such a suicide. The breach of the Code in this case was an opportunity for the Commission to underline to all editors the importance of taking care over the reporting of suicide. The complaint was upheld."

Read more here in a Media Guardian article. Read the PCC's ruling here.

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