by Linda Straker
Media workers have been told that they are stakeholders in the fight against crime, and as a result should be aware that whatever they print or publish can have implication not just on their audience but on the country.
“Journalists should ask themselves what are the impacts of what I am about to publish,” ACP Trevor Modeste said to almost 20 journalists, who participated in a workshop aimed at providing guidance when it comes to covering crimes and crime scene investigations.
Explaining that the end result of most evidence gathered at a crime scene can end up the court, Modeste, who once worked as a journalist with a now defunct newspaper, is of the opinion that journalists should not be on crime scenes, but instead use official Police communications to get photos and footage to share with their audience.
“What do journalists do when they get on a crime scene? What do you do with what you collect, especially if you get there before the police?” he asked, while explaining that evidence gathered at a crime scene is very important when it comes to the justice system.
“And because the gathered evidence can end up in the court, we need to make sure that they are not contaminated,” said Modeste, who explained that besides contaminating the evidence, journalists’ publications can affect the outcome of a case — persons from the public are selected as jurors, and what is published may affect potential jurors’ opinion.
“So juror number 2 has not been to the crime scene, but already has knowledge and information about the crime scene. That cannot be right for justice, and so journalists need to think about the broad impact before sharing,” he said, while stressing that based on what is disseminated — it will not only directly jeopardise the case, but the Police, especially when names and photos of officers who investigate highly sensitive cases, such as those pertaining to robbery, drugs, and other heinous crimes, are published.
The workshop with Modeste was one of the many activities this week, as the members of the Media Workers Association observe Media Week under the theme: “Reflecting on our Profession: looking to progress through critical thinking.”
The week began on Sunday with a church service at the Beaulieu RC church, and will conclude on Sunday with a fun day in Victoria. Other activities during the week will be discussion on various media centered around the theme, the distribution of a hamper to a charity, and a second workshop with the School for the Deaf as part of Deaf Awareness month.