Page last updated at 18:25 GMT, Friday, 16 May 2008 19:25 UK

Young deaths coverage questioned

Sir Christopher Meyer
The PCC's Sir Christopher Meyer hosted the debate

A bereaved father spoke of his "stress and heartache" after repeatedly seeing his son's picture in press reports of a number of young deaths in one area.

The man spoke at a debate by the Press Complaint Commission (PCC) in how the deaths of young people in the Bridgend area had been covered by the media.

Local MP, Madeline Moon, who has been critical of some of the reporting said she did not want to "blame and shame".

The PCC said changes in the code of conduct could be made.

The debate in Bridgend was held on Friday and the father of a young man who died said: "My son took his life last May but why did the newspapers continue to publish his picture?"

Newspapers
The PCC is the watchdog for newspapers and magazines

He added it had caused immense distress to his family who were undergoing counselling after the death.

The debate was held after criticism of the media and the press watchdog.

The media was accused of blackening the name of Bridgend, intruding on people's grief and insensitive coverage of the deaths.

Chair of the PCC Sir Christopher was asked why the organisation had not come to Bridgend earlier to observe what had been happening and why many people did not know of the watchdog's existence.

He said the PCC had only had one complaint about the coverage of the deaths.

"We came here and found a terrific head of steam of indignation, " he said.

"It is clear people are very steamed up here, but people didn't know how to complain.

"Newspapers have a public duty. There is a public interest to report on the kind of tragedies that have taken place in Bridgend.

"Having said that there are rules in the Code of Practice which concern harassment, intrusion into grief and shock, and the like."

During the afternoon he spent time with some of the bereaved families where issues such as press intrusion, harassment and inaccuracies were discussed.

'Suffering'

AM for Bridgend, Carwyn Jones told the meeting at Bridgend Recreation Centre how reports of the deaths in the county had created "a story based on false premises".

"It was allowed to carry on and cause so much suffering for families," he added.

"Is it really in the public interest that you report every detail of the case. What can you do about the way it was all reported?"

During the meeting Mr Jones recalled the press was told repeatedly the suicides were not related to the internet but it was continued to be reported.

Sir Christopher said the PCC would reflect on what it had heard and produce guidance for the media on how suicide cases should be reported, which could lead to changes in its code of conduct.

It would also be looking at the use of photographs taken from internet social networking sites and published in papers and magazines.




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