Privacy and death in the papers

Tomorrow's Business

A FLAK with a conscience has a question: does the press bear some responsibility for the suicide of the Credit Suisse contractor who acted as the middle man between the bank and the detectives tasked with tracking Iqbal Khan?

Hacks have relished the chance to write about a genuinely interesting foreign bank story – a James Bond-style corporate espionage according to The Guardian.

Our flak asks: “I wonder if there needs to be a little more calm when reporting this type of incident? Or perhaps more context, less salacious gossip?”

I think, just, that in this case the flak is wrong and the hacks are right. It is probably true that in a while the Credit Suisse story will blow over, while the family of the unnamed man will suffer for the rest of their lives.

I don’t really see how journalists can approach every story wondering if someone, somewhere, is going to find it impossibly stressful.

Certainly, when it comes to reporting suicide, newspapers are careful to avoid it if they can, under the advice of charities.

That’s why you will sometimes read that a young person has died, with no cause given.

There is a privacy issue here too, of course. Prince Harry is getting it in the neck for suing The Mail on Sunday for printing a letter his wife had sent to her father.

The press tends to link arms over these issues. But there will be plenty of senior hacks who think he’s probably got a point. We do think about these things….

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