In light of Mind’s statement today, Hacked Off calls on the chair of IPSO, Sir Alan Moses, to condemn the obvious and dangerous breaches of the Editors’ Code in the coverage by some newspapers of the death of the actor Robin Williams.
Joan Smith, Executive Director of Hacked Off, said: ‘Much of today’s coverage of the apparent suicide of Robin Williams is sensational and speculative. It is a clear breach of the Editors’ Code which states “when reporting suicide, care should be taken to avoid excessive detail about the method used” and we call on Sir Alan Moses to condemn it. He has been in post long enough to be familiar with the guidance on reporting suicides, and he has a duty to remind editors of their responsibilities in this matter.’
Mind issued a briefing to news desks twice yesterday with information on how to report suicide in a responsible way as there is clear evidence that media coverage of suicide, particularly graphic language illustrating the method used, can lead to copycat deaths.
These guidelines and codes of practice are not just about taste and decency, they are about saving lives – since copycat suicides and suicide attempts are a well recognised phenomenon after celebrity deaths.
The following newspapers have been criticised on social media for their reporting of William’s death: The Star, The Mirror, The Metro, The Sun and Daily Mail.
Hacked Off calls for Sir Alan Moses to send a message to these newspapers and editors behind them who have breached these codes, that he is serious about raising standards.
Hacked Off, in common with most of the public and their elected representative, believes that press abuse will only be tackled if Lord Justice Leveson’s recommendations are implemented. That means a truly effective and independent self-regulator of the press, which is independently approved as such under the Royal Charter. IPSO, the new version of the PCC, fulfils none of these requirements and is another sham regulator.
Mind’s statement can be found here.
The Samaritans’ guidelines can be found here.
Recent criticism of the inadequate PCC response to suicide coverage in Bridgend can be found here.
Hacked Off Executive Director Joan Smith is available for comment.
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