Informanté rapped for irresponsible posting of suicide image

19 Nov 2018 13:20pm
WINDHOEK, 19 NOV (NAMPA) – Media Ombudsman, John Nakuta has strongly condemned the Informanté newspaper’s publication of a suicide photograph, adding that the publication of the image was not in public interest.
He noted that the posting of the image on social media “deserves a frontal attack and condemnation”.
The photograph depicted Ivan Pitt, who was at the time wanted for the murder of his girlfriend, hanging from the ceiling of a garage with a rope around his neck.
In a media statement of Monday, Nakuta said the subsequent post on the social media platform, Facebook, in which the newspaper made a comparison of the Pitt image to those depicting genocide, is similarly misplaced and uncalled for.
He therefore urged the publication to remove the image from its social media platforms.
The media ombudsman reported that he has received six complaints in one week on Informante’s usage of the image.
He said the complaints were made through social network platforms WhatsApp and Facebook, where many viewed the publication of the photograph as unethical.
Nakuta called on journalists to be extra cautious when reporting on suicides and to never attempt to place the news above the possible psychological damage such reporting could have on those affected.
He said media reports about suicide, according to the World Health Organisation, could either minimise the risk of imitative suicide or increase the risk thereof.
It further points out that media reports of suicide, particularly if the coverage is extensive, prominent, sensational, and explicitly describes the method of suicide indirectly, puts vulnerable individuals at risk of engaging in imitative behaviours.
“The online posting on Facebook by Informanté of the graphic suicide image of Pitt is seen in this context,” he said.
Nakuta stated that respecting and protecting privacy and dignity are amongst the basic tenets of journalism, adding that the Informanté posting of the image misses the mark in this regard.
He said several attempts to resolve the matter with the newspaper’s team and to hear their side however proved futile as they failed to respond to his queries on the matter.