Boston suspect: BBC stands by Newly Bereaved Video Interview
LONDON: Having an interest in bereavement issues, I felt it was insensitive of the paparazzi like BBC to video and interview, in front of millions, a recently bereaved elderly relative, whoever it was, and in their own home too.
A close relative being interviewed after just a few hours is unethical, even if it is supposedly 'fashionable' these days to do so.
As a citizen journalist, I would not stoop this low and use a video to interview such a person, after a few hours of hearing of the relative's death, just for 'news sake', risking the interviewee's safety, mental health and privacy by having them being recognised round the world on video.
Because of their condition, they may not have thought of the consequences of their video interview. There is a huge difference between a newspaper report and a video recording. When people are bereaved people also are not able to speak and think clearly too. Some people are just not up to being interviewed, least of all, a video interview, but it makes 'good telly'. Some are, but not all.
I wrote to the BBC and complained, and this is what they said:
"We understand in your view it had been in poor taste to interview Patimat Suleymanova as she could be seen in some distress.
We appreciate your concern and while I understand it can be difficult for some viewers to see and hear people in distress, as it had been family members of the suspects it was editorially relevant to hear from her. We always think carefully before we conduct or broadcast such interviews but we appreciate that you felt it was unethical.
As a corporation we're aware of the wide range of people who watch our news reports during the day but, equally, we have a responsibility to report the main news events.
News is unpredictable and can be disturbing and we have an obligation to provide adult viewers with informative and comprehensible news.
We believe it would be unacceptable for us to distort or suppress important news stories because of their subject matter.
We do aim to curb some of the distressing details in earlier news reports but I appreciate that you feel we have got it wrong on this occasion.
Nevertheless, we acknowledge the strength of your complaint and we can assure you that we’ve registered your comments on our audience log."
The National Union of Journalists have a Code of Conduct which seems to bypass ethics on grounds of 'public interest'.
"Item 6 of the Code of Conduct: The journalist 'does nothing to intrude into anybody's private life, grief or distress unless justified by overriding consideration of the public interest".
The irony is that not all of the public has an interest in seeing newly bereaved being interviewed at length on world wide television.
When is public interest, not in public interest? It is bad enough the press reporting accounts of private mobile phone text messages and 999 calls to the public, on 'grounds of public interest', what about a 'grounds of privacy' too?