How to deal with media when you were bereaved or victimised by the attack in Manchester?

24 May, 2017

Terrorist attacks are often accompanied by overwhelming media attention. While Media can play an important role in informing the public and spreading checked facts, dealing with the media attention can be stressful and even harmful for the victims. Among many different efforts and activities in order to support victims of recent attacks in Manchester, VSE member Victim Support England & Wales have prepared  media advice for families. This advice was developed for people bereaved by a homicide and can help people who were bereaved or victimised during the recent attack. This advice was developed for people bereaved by a homicide and can help people who were bereaved or victimised during the recent attack. We all need to ensure that media and social media attention is not harmful for victims.Among many different efforts and activities in order to support victims of recent attacks in Manchester,

How to deal with media interest when you have been bereaved by a homicide

When major events such as terror attacks happen, media interest is intense and victims will receive requests for interviews from journalists. Remember, it is up to you if you wish and when you wish to speak – no one else.

It is important to be careful about what you say in relation to an ongoing investigation because you could affect the chances of someone being caught for the crime.

It is always sensible to speak to your police family liaison officer to let them know what you want to do, and say, to make sure that you will not do anything that might harm an investigation. Victim Support caseworkers can help you to discuss this with your family liaison officer.

Some people who are bereaved actually find talking to the media helps them. Others find the attention unwanted and difficult to deal with.

What will a journalist want from me?

Most of the time journalists will want to know the facts of what has happened, what they may call your ‘story’ and details about the effect the attack has had on you and your family. They will also seek for you to pay tribute to the person you have been bereaved from.

Newspaper and TV or radio news journalists will often want information quickly for the news that day. If you aren’t sure you want to speak to them in their timeframe, remember you can politely decline. You are not obliged to give interviews.

Documentary makers and magazine journalists have more time to pull stories together and may want to speak to you in more depth. This might mean you have more time to consider whether you want to take part in an interview.

How will an interview be conducted?

Again, this depends on the kind of journalist you are being interviewed by. You might be asked to give:

  • A live TV interview on camera from your home or a studio
  • A live radio interview over the phone or from a studio
  • A pre-recorded TV or radio interview that will play some time in the future
  • An interview that is recorded on a tape and used as a reference for the journalist
  • An interview where the journalist makes written notes, also for reference

It may set your mind at rest to ask for the details of where and when the interview will take place, and when you can expect to see the story appear. This information will also be useful to share with family and friends so they know what to expect too.

If you do not feel comfortable with any arrangements proposed, you can say that you do not wish to proceed or ask for them to change these arrangements prior to the interview.

What if the media report something incorrectly?

Newspapers, magazines and their websites

The media try hard to be accurate and will make changes, or publish corrections and clarifications if their story is inaccurate.

But remember, they will not change a story or publish corrections or clarifications because you disagree with the tone or an opinion in the story.

In the first instance you should contact the journalist or editor to politely point out the inaccuracy. Do this by phone and follow by email so you have a record.

The media outlet should look at this fairly quickly and let you know their remedy. If the story is online, you should seek a prompt change to the story,

If you are not satisfied with the remedy, you can contact the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) to make a formal complaint. IPSO regulate most newspapers and news websites and will advise you.

Information on the complaints process is available online at ipso.co.uk . It may be useful to read this before you decide to make an official complaint.

If you are still keen to make a complaint about a story you can

Call 0300 123 22 20 or email advice@ipso.co.uk

IPSO can also help on issues around harassment and their emergency 24 hour advice line is 07659 152656 where you can leave a message and request a call.

Broadcast – including TV news, documentaries and radio programmes

Ofcom, the regulator for the broadcast industry, manages complaints about programmes broadcast by independent broadcasters.

Ofcom does not watch or listen to programmes before broadcast. If you would like to complain about a programme yet to be broadcast, contact the broadcaster (e.g. BBC / ITV etc) directly.

Ofcom’s Advisory Team can tell you how to make your complaint or if it is something they don’t deal with on 0300 123 3333 or 020 7981 3040.

If you want to make a complaint to Ofcom you can visit www.ofcom.org.uk.

If your complaint is about a BBC programme you will need to make your complaint initially to the BBC itself. If you are not satisfied with the remedy suggested then you can take your complaint to the BBC Trust. Details on this process are here http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/

What can I do if I feel harassed by a journalist or a photographer?

No one should feel harassed or under undue pressure by the media. This can be particularly harrowing if you have recently suffered bereavement IPSO handles complaints of harassment about newspapers and magazine journalists. You should use the number and email above to contact them.

If you continue to be harassed following a complaint contact IPSO (details above).

If you have a concern which relates to harassment by a TV or radio journalist, then you should contact the broadcaster directly. Ofcom and the BBC Trust can only become involved once a programme has been aired.

What if there is a criminal investigation and I say something that should not be reported?

Journalists are very aware of the laws of contempt and reporting of criminal proceedings and work hard to ensure they keep within these laws, but you can speak to your family liaison officer for advice – just to make sure you don’t say anything that may impair a criminal investigation or court proceedings.

The police have asked me to take part in a press conference – do I have to do it?

You do not have to take part in a press conference organised by the police or anyone else if you don’t want to.

However, the police are unlikely to ask you to take part in a press conference during an investigation unless they think the publicity will help them. Both your family liaison officer and your Victim Support caseworker can talk the situation through with.

Where can I go for more advice?

If you have any questions please speak to your Victim Support caseworker. They will be able to obtain advice from the Victim Support press office, whose can provide expert guidance on matters relating to the media.