Wednesday, December 17, 2008

EDITORIAL: Is media coverage complicit in suicide?

No matter how vile the crimes for which a prisoner has been convicted and / or currently stands accused, he or she is entitled to fair treatment and protection while in custody. We live in a nation of laws, not vigilantism.

How the media reports on sex related crimes plays a part in generating the attitudes of the citizenry including prison officials, guards, and inmates.

We credit the New Era for investigating possible prison abuse of inmates and wish them Godspeed.

But we also hold the New Era in part responsible for sensationalism about persons accused or convicted of sex crimes, of unnecessarily publicizing the identities and locations of those who have "paid for their crimes", and disproportionately focusing attention on sexual crimes, at times playing on fears and at other times publishing accounts which approach voyeurism and titillation. When we dehumanize individuals, we make them vulnerable.

We appreciate that the New Era has restrained from such practices over the past year.

As it has often been pointed out, the test of a just society is how it deals with those least popular. Media: Please take note.