Linnea Engstrom

NAME: Linnea Engstrom

COURSE: Culture, Media and Society

MODULE: Media Ethics and Regulations

ASSIGNMENT TITLE: How helpful and effective are the regulations regarding the way the press reports on suicides?

When reporting the Bridgend suicides, ‘public interest’ has been the main reason given by the media, and intrusion on grief seems to be acceptable as long as the press could defend media value. Listening to The Guardian’s media talk podcast on the subject (The Guardian, 2008) it is hard not to find this behaviour shocking. A victim’s mother was approached by journalists several times, and when she insisted she did not want to be interviewed she was then offered money. Although Madeline Moon MP, along with several others, publicly made clear that the media was now ‘part of the problem’, many journalists still defended their right to report on the tragic deaths. Neil Wallis of The News of the World claimed: ‘There is a public interest issue about sudden deaths – the day we stop these being examined is going to be a poor day for the media’.

It is not hard to see why the PCCs critics have accused them of everything from being a ‘toothless watchdog protecting newspaper editors rather than the public’ to issuing punishments that are simply too soft. In the interview printed in The Guardian on the 30th of March this year, the former chairman of the PCC, Sir Christopher Meyer, defends the PCC against the many criticisms they face; Sir Meyer is quoted replying “Not a lot” when asked what he thinks is wrong with the PCC, and this kind of attitude might very well be one of the reasons that the PCC faces criticism. After a highly publicised case regarding the Formula One boss Max Mosley, Mr. Mosley fiercely attacked the PCC, claiming that their system of self-regulation was like “putting the mafia in charge of the police station” (The Guardian ‘Max Mosley attacks’, 2009).

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