Police rebuked national media for using Facebook pictures of a boy who had been mauled to death by a dog, but a local site baulked at doing so – and won the family’s trust. Read more.
Young journalists are warned they might breach a child’s anonymity by naming the school they attend. It is routine practice to avoid doing so. But in a case involving a teacher who had sex with a public, a reporter persuaded a judge that in a large school, the risk was tiny. He said there was a strong public interest in naming the teacher – and the judge agreed. But the important thing is that the reporter warned the judge in advance. Note that in other cases, judges have decided that it is the media that must decide what is safe – and face the consequences if they are wrong. Read more.
A judge declined to lift a temporary injunction preventing the media from naming two girls who carried out a brutal murder when they were only 13 and 14. Both had now turned 18, the age when teenagers’ right to anonymity would normally end. They were tried in an adult court with no automatic anonymity, but an injunction was put in place to protect them. The Press Association applied to have it lifted, but a judge extended the ban pending psychiatric reports. The court heard one of the girls had tried several times to kill herself. Read more.
Journalists don’t have the same freedoms in the family court as they do in others, but in a test-run aimed at improving transparency, lawyers who also blog are to be allowed to report cases. But they must prove their credentials. It’s only for a trial period. Read more (August 2018).
Child murders Jon Venables and Robert Thompson were tried in an adult court and publicly named by a judge when convicted; but on release, they were given new identities to protect them from attack. When Venables was jailed again in February 2018, The Sun ran a feature on the six criminals in Britain who had closely guarded, lifelong anonymity. Read it here.
The rapid evolution of transgender issues prompted the Independent Press Standards Organisation to issue special guidance for journalists. Nearly all parts of the Editor’s Code might come into play. Journalists should ask whether the subject has made their transgender status public, and whether they have applied for formal recognition. Gender identity should only be mentioned if specifically relevant to the story, says IPSO. Read the guidance here.
Note: this story was uploaded to Media Law Matters before the implementation of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation directive, which toughens up data protection law, from May 2018.
Parents and even editors are afraid to talk about what goes on in the family courts, a freelance journalist declared at a debate on privacy versus accountability in this sensitive area. “A sense of fear pervades the system,” said Louise Tickle. Democracy suffered, the audience was told. Read more from The Transparency Project here.
A documentary about the performance poet Luke Wright contained 38 uses of “the most offensive” language and 23 other sexually-loaded words but was broadcast before the watershed (the earliest time for transmitting material unsuitable for children). Community broadcaster Notts TV apologised and said it slipped through the net after a change of scheduling staff. Ofcom found a breach of its code. Read its findings in its October 2017 bulletin (page 6).
Pictures and information may be considered private even if posted on sites such as Facebook, says new guidance from the Independent Press Standards Organisation on sourcing material from social media. It highlights issues of accuracy, privacy, children and grief under the Editors’ Code. Read the full guidance, with case studies and examples of rulings, here.
The Mail Online agreed to take down a video showing a bullying attack on a schoolgirl after the mother of one of the alleged bullies said it breached her daughter’s right to privacy. The Editor’s Code section on photographing children was also considered. The decision avoided the need for an IPSO ruling. Read more.