I blogged earlier this week about the importance of maintaining good media relations, and not forgetting the significant role of the media. It was also earlier this week that I enjoyed going back to my roots and interviewing a couple of people at work. But today I had a reminder of how the media can be incredibly damaging.
Words matter. They matter a lot. As a journalist you have to consider both what you say and what you leave out. For me when you are pulling a story together you have to see all angles, and understand what is surrounding the issue you are writing about. If you can’t take this broad approach then what you produce will be flawed.
The headline on the article about a murder investigation in Rochdale that appeared in The Times today was a clear example of journalism that failed. It appeared to be a poor way of bringing together some attention grabbing issues. Most importantly the journalist failed the family of the man who has tragically lost his life. There was no compassion or thought in putting those words together. There was no thought of the victim, family, friends or communities.
One of the reasons I moved out of journalism was because the feelings of the victims and victims’ families that I spoke to were more important to me than anything else. At best I felt I was able to help them at a difficult time, but at worst it became exploitative. There is so much amazing work that journalists do, campaigning to highlight those who are suffering, forgotten or in danger. It makes it even more disappointing when cheap headlines and attention seeking copy are produced.
I have a huge amount of respect for the many journalists working around the world to bring the news to people. They have done so much to help people and societies throughout the years. But when they get it wrong and cause upset and distress to people and communities they should apologise. Like the many organisations that they target with questions about failures, they should explain what lessons they have learnt.
I will wait with interest to see the response The Times give to the many people and organisations who have complained about the article today.