HomeInsightsIndependent Press Standards Organisation issues guidance on reporting deaths and inquests

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IPSO explains that the death of an individual is a matter of public record and their death may affect a community as well as those who knew the individual personally. Journalists have a basic right to report the fact of a person’s death, but the Editors’ Code of Practice is clear that in cases involving personal grief or shock, enquiries and approaches must be made with sympathy and discretion and publication must be handled sensitively. The Code also has specific rules about reporting suicide.

IPSO says that there has been considerable discussion of the reporting of deaths and inquests this year, often in response to breaking news of serious incidents. In response to this discussion, and questions from editors and journalists, IPSO has produced guidance on this topic.

The new guidance contains a framework for editors and journalists as well as relevant case studies. It encourages editors and journalists to consider key questions in line with the Code on a number of issues including: the reporting of inquests; coverage of funerals; writing obituaries; and considerations around reporting the breaking news of a death.

The guidance is aimed at editors and journalists. However, members of the public may find the guidance useful in understanding the editorial decision-making behind these sensitive stories.

The guidance follows IPSO’s guidance on researching and reporting stories involving transgender individuals, publishing information from social media and “due prominence”. To read IPSO’s press release in full and for a link to the guidance, click here.

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