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A Shameful Way To Act

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A shameful way to act

Sandford Police is a spoof twitter feed, our “smallest Police Farce”, committed to making fun of cop cock-ups.

The other day they turned on hacks.

“We have reviewed a number of contacts that we have had with journalists and have created this thread of journalists that are to be trusted to produce accurate, credible and informative reports.”

There are no such journalists, of course. We don’t exist.

This was a response to complaints from the family of Nicola Bulley about how the media reported on her while she was missing.

When her body was found they said this: “We tried last night to take in what we had been told in the day, only to have Sky News and ITV making contact with us directly when we expressly asked for privacy. They again, have taken it upon themselves to run stories about us to sell papers and increase their own profits. It is shameful they have acted in this way.”

This family are in an horrendous amount of pain, and as such they can be as mad as they like at anyone – why not start with the media.

But it doesn’t look like the hacks behaved badly, and certainly not as badly as the police, who decided at one point to release that Bulley had “significant issues with alcohol”. Only they know why.

As for the amateur journalists doing their own “investigations” and offering conspiracies on Twitter: What is wrong with those people?

The Guardian reports: “Shortly after Bulley’s disappearance, police were forced to put in place a dispersal order after TikTok and YouTube influencers arrived on the scene, intimidating local people and causing a nuisance to police. Hundreds of people have since traipsed through the beauty spot, taking photographs for social media, and other visitors broke into buildings and went through local people’s gardens at night in the hope of finding her.”

And the problem here is that the press are intrusive?

For as long as there was hope in this case, the family and the police wanted as much media attention as possible. They were doing public relations, in other words.

The parents of Madeleine McCann kept their missing daughter in the media for years. No one says they shouldn’t have, but that inevitably meant that other missing children got less attention from a stretched police force.

They are smart people who made a calculation: to give up privacy in return for hope.

I guarantee that none of the journalists covering that case or this one took it lightly. It will stay with them.

Thirty years ago, I covered two stories about dead children, and screwed it up both times.

On the first, I asked the family if I could check some details about their son. How dare I, they said. On the second, I decided to rely for those details on the headteacher, who got it wrong. In each case, the family despised me, and certainly let me know they did.

The first family thought their loss such a private matter no journalist should go near it. The second thought it a story of such importance that it should be written about in depth, every day, perhaps forever.

None of this is easy. And if blaming the press eases the pain somewhere, fine.

The hacks do have their own. Stories like this are why some of us became business journalists — at least the public don’t automatically hate us (they get there later).

For our Find Out Now poll today we asked: To what extent do you think that the press are too intrusive into personally traumatic stories? 90% think we are.

Some of them are hypocrites.

You can see the results below.

Press release of the day

Is the carbon offsetting market transparent? Board directors of FTSE 350 companies don’t think so, says this from Kana Earth.

Some directors admit their own company’s efforts to be green are in fact counterproductive.

Andy Creak of Kana says: “If the UK is to meet its net zero emissions targets companies need to be able to rely on a robust carbon offsetting market based on authentic impactful projects.”

Stories that will keep rolling

1) Is BA still mad at Heathrow?

2) Has Jupiter’s fund performance improved since the new CEO arrived?

3) Is German consumer confidence higher than ours?

4) Who is making money from the vegetable shortage?


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