PCC upholds complaint against Daily Record
The PCC has upheld a complaint under Clause 5 (Intrusion into grief or shock) of the Editors' Code of Practice against the Daily Record following a story about the death of a young man whose body had been found on a footpath close to Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh.
The complainant was the aunt of the deceased man. The article had included a photograph of the man's body wrapped in sheeting, which the complainant said was insensitive and had caused distress both to her family and to the man's friends. She was particularly concerned that the outline of his arms and body could be seen in the photograph. The newspaper was apologetic for the distress the photograph had caused, but did not accept that it had breached the terms of the Editors' Code. It argued that the body was covered and had been found in a public place. It had removed the photograph from the online version of the article, and offered to publish an apology to the family.
The Commission acknowledged that newspapers are entitled to report on tragic events which take place in public, and recognised the legitimacy of reporting that a body had been found. However, it did not consider that there was a justification for the very specific nature of the photograph. The outline of the body through the sheeting would have been, it said, visible to readers, and it could well understand why this had caused the complainant and her family such distress. As a result, the Code's requirement to handle publication "sensitively" had not been met.
PCC Director Stephen Abell commented: "Tragic stories such as this raise difficult questions for editors, who need to strike the correct balance between publishing information about a death for their readers at the same time as handling publication with due sensitivity. This was a difficult case, but the Commission ruled that the use of the image crossed a line. The adjudication is an important addition to the PCC's case law under Clause 5 of the Editors' Code, and editors should learn the lesson from it".
Notes to editors:
1. To read the adjudication, please click here.
2. The adjudication has been published today in the Daily Record. The adjudication has been published on page 2; the original article was on page 4.
3. The PCC has published advice for members of the public which is designed to help deal with media attention in the aftermath of a death. To read this, please click here.
4. To read about the PCC's work supporting bereaved people, please click here.
5. For more information, please contact Jonathan Collett on firstname.lastname@example.org / 07740 896805 or Catherine Speller on email@example.com / 020 7831 0022 / 07977 573 321.
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