Privacy: Reporting Death, Suffering and Distress

7.4.38 – We must always balance the public interest in full and accurate reporting against the need to be compassionate and to avoid any unjustified infringement of privacy when we report accidents, disasters, disturbances, violence against individuals or war.

We will always need to consider carefully the editorial justification for portraying graphic material of human suffering and distress.  When crews arriving at the scene of a disaster or emergency are under pressures that make it difficult to judge whether recording is an unjustified breach of privacy, they will often record as much material as possible.  However, in such a situation, even more care must be taken to assess any privacy implications prior to broadcast.  The demands of live output and speed in the use of pictures should not override consideration of the privacy of those suffering or in distress.

There will be distressing accounts of suffering and distress, alongside repeated mentioning of death and executions – due to the nature of the subject being documented. Some reports will be graphic to fully and honestly portray the nature of the events that happened. 

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