Monday, 26 April 2010

Brisbane Media: Courier-Mail prejudices attempted murder trial @couriermail

One of the most basic rules of reporting on crime and trials is that we must assume people are innocent until they’ve been proven guilty. Another is that you can’t publish anything that may unfairly influence the result of a trial. Today, the Courier-Mail, Brisbane’s only daily newspaper, has broken both of these rules.

A story published on the Courier-Mail’s website about an incident yesterday, where a man is alleged to have driven a car deliberately at a teenager, follows the rules:

100426 Courier-Mail Article Screenshot


However the Courier-Mail also publishes RSS feeds. Simply put, an RSS feed is a way to let you read updates from many different websites in one place – for instance I use Google Reader to catch up with stories from the Courier-Mail, The Australian, The Piping Shrike, Possum’s Pollytics and many other political sites.

So when I opened up Google Reader this morning to check the news, this is what I saw:

100426 Courier-Mail Prejudices Attempted Murder Trial


“Teen victim deliberately run over”, shouts the headline. No “alleged”, not even quote marks so they can pretend someone else said it and they’re just reporting it.


Perhaps the Courier-Mail thinks that when they publish something in a feed only read by a couple of hundred people, the rules don’t matter any more. What a pity if one of those people finds themselves on the jury, huh?

1 comment:

Legal Eagle said...

"Allegedly" is used like a kind of magic wand - I'm sure newspapers think that if they wave that word, suddenly whatever they say will be okay. I didn't actually say he attempted to murder the teen, I just said he "allegedly" attempted to murder the teen...

Surely they know that these kind of articles prejudice trials, but they just can't help themselves.