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October 01 2010

10:51

Headlines and Deadlines: My first death knock

Liverpool Daily Post and Echo digital journalist Alison Gow recalls one of her first “death knocks”:

I saw the boat, and it stopped being a lark. The Double R was a corpse – a beached wreck with her paintwork sandblasted away and holes punched in her keel. She lay, tilted to the side, with the cabin smashed in. That was when I truly understood I was reporting on the aftermath of a tragedy. Someone I vaguely knew had gone out, buttoning his coat against the storm, to secure his boat and means of employment, and he had died an unimaginable death.

Full post on Headlines and Deadlines at this link…Similar Posts:



08:00

Death Knocks

IMG_3176 Door Knocker
A really, really good post from Alison Gow recalling her first ‘Death knock’.  Not something you would look back on fondly but:

Today I contributed a content strategy, with particular emphasis on what sort of feeds we should consider aggregating and the level of showbiz news a user might require. Which might explain why I’ve been reminiscing about reporting days.

As Alison points out, the knock is an inevitability for reporters.

I’ve never done it (thankfully) but it was on my mind this week as well.

I was talking to the second years about using pictures from facebook as part of a chat around communities and the content they create (social media). One student said it would be better to ask the parents for a picture they could use rather than ‘steal’ one.  Of course the reality of that is ‘you have to go and ask them’. I asked them “Which would you rather do. Take the picture off facebook or go and do a death knock?”

In the intro to her post. Alison notes:

There are a few set questions anyone applying for a job in journalism gets asked at interview – among them is a request to summarise what they would do if Newsdesk sent them out on The Knock – which usually means a death knock.

Just to be clear. ‘Avoid it by getting the details from facebook’ is probably not the answer they would want.

Image from marlambie on Flickr

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July 23 2010

10:39

Death knock blogger Chris Wheal speaks on Today programme

Chris Wheal, a journalist who recently blogged about his family’s experience of the press following the death of his nephew, spoke more about the issue on the Today programme this morning.

Wheal spoke about his personal understanding of the journalists’ need to get their own story, but felt that rules need to be stronger to stop families feeling harassed.

As a journalist I understand the need to get a story and I understand from lots of comments on my blog that journalists have sometimes turned up and been welcomed by families in these circumstances who get a chance to grieve and are pleased that the papers are interested. But that’s not the case with my sister. They’re a very private family, they want to grieve in private. It feels like harassment although it’s not because it’s not the same journalist coming back again and again.

Presenter Evan Davies added that no family will ever be prepared for how to deal with the media in such a situation as nobody can forsee such a thing, but that they will face a “highly competitive industry”. Wheal responded that industry codes of conduct need to be strengthened.

The PCC code of conduct doesn’t really tackle it, “in cases involving personal grief or shock, enquiries and approaches must be made with sympathy and discretion and publication handled sensitively”. I think for someone like my sister who is not a publicity grabbing person and would shy away from the press in normal circumstances, there has to be actually a stronger pressure on the press to not do that.

The NUJ code of conduct is much stronger, stating journalists should “do nothing to intrude into anybody’s private life, grief or distress unless justified by overriding consideration of the public interest”. But even thought this story its interesting to the public, I understand that, it is not in the public interest. I think journalists sometimes harden themselves in order to go make those calls and knock on those doors, but sometimes by hardening ourselves we actually forget the impact of our actions on the poor people we are trying to interview.

Hear the full interview here…Similar Posts:



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