Sunday, 27 November 2011

An 'apparent suicide' - are we right to cover it?

The death of Gary Speed provides some insight into the coverage of an apparent suicide by UK newspapers, and begs the question: are we right to cover suicides?

A brief look at some of the major newspapers revealed that the following mentioned suicide in the headline:

The Daily Mail: Wales football manager found dead in 'apparent suicide' Welsh football manager Gary Speed 'commits suicide' at 42. 

The Telegraph: Wales Manager Gary Speed dies, aged 42, after committing suicide.

The Mirror: Gary Speed dead: Wales manager found hanged age 42.

The Times: Wales manager Speed found hanged.

The Sun: 'Suicide' of Wales Boss Gary Speed: Prem League legend found hanged at home, aged 42.

Whereas none of these newspapers mentioned 'suicide':

The Guardian: Wales manager Gary Speed has died, FA of Wales announces.

The Independent: Wales manager Gary Speed found dead.

The Daily Star: Football manager Gary Speed dies.

The Daily Express: Wales coach Gary Speed found dead aged 42. 
This brief look at the initial coverage of a single story isn't representative of anything, but the coverage caught my interest because I couldn't remember remember reading about a specific suicide in the Norwegian media, despite being aware that about 1 in 5 Norwegians become depressed at some point during their lives, and that suicides are a problem there.

That is because, up to 2006, Norway's equivalent of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) stated in its code of ethics that: “Suicide, suicide attempts and mental illnesses should not be reported except for in extraordinary cases”. Today it states that journalists should “Show care when reporting on suicide and suicide attempts. Avoid reporting that is unnecessary to fulfill the public’s need for information. Avoid describing the method or any other factors that can lead to more acts of suicide.” This piece on the coverage of suicides in the Norwegian media is worth a read.

A number of Norwegian newspapers and broadcasters wrote about the death of Gary Speed, but out of those I looked at, just one mentioned that it was an apparent suicide - it wasn't mentioned in the headline and no details were given. 

What is the right approach - should journalist refrain from reporting on suicides, or do so cautiously only in those cases where we perceive an overriding public interest? Or perhaps we should be free to write whatever we want, sure in the belief that our freedom of speech trumps all. What seems problematic to me is that in cases like this, some journalists appear more interested in what's of interest to the public than what's in the public interest. A compromise might be that those who take it upon themselves to report on suicides - despite the risk of copycat suicides - when no public interest is apparent, include some numbers below their story.

PAPYRUS: 0800 068 41 41. 
Samaritans:  08457 90 90 90
SupportLine: 01708 765200 or

Monday, 14 November 2011

Breivik's third remand hearing - liveblog

Breivik's third remand hearing takes place today at 11am, local time.

The remand hearing is open to the general public and the courthouse has made room for 570 people. About 300 of these seats are in the courtroom with Breivik, while the rest will watch the proceedings on screens from elsewhere in the building.

About 155 members of the media are there, 80 of them inside the courtroom, along with 35-40 survivors (this number includes their guardians and lawyers).

A VG journalist said Breivik wore a suit and tie, and that he smiled at his audience. His lawyer Geir Lippestad said his client smiles when nervous.

VG journalists are reporting live from inside the courtroom and there are two livestreams (VG, TV2)from outside the court, but these are all in Norwegian. Dagbladet also has updates here.

Some reporting restrictions apply, so no video or sound will be released from the court and the media may not report what is being said, but can describe the atmosphere in the courtroom and Breivik's behaviour. The court can decide to lift these restrictions at the end of the hearing.

Breivik wants to speak directly to his victims and explain his misdeeds.

A queue formed outside the courthouse at 01.00 today and about 15-20 people had joined the queue five hours before the remand hearing was set to start. Some survivors were there earlier today, but decided they were not ready to see him.

UPDATE: reporting restrictions partially lifted, so information about what he said will appear.

Brevik presented himself as the military commander of a Norwegian resistance movement and said he did not recognise the court. The court interrupted him at this point and the proceedings continued.

He later asked to speak to his victims, but was not permitted to do so. Breivik is said to have seemed disappointed.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

EDL threatens Occupy LSX

The EDL has made what looks like an official threat against Occupy LSX. The camp has been given until 12 am Friday to disband, but CxF (Combined Ex Forces) members are on site now and others are on their way. EDL News reported that 12am might mean midnight. The Occupy London camp and The Metropolitan Police are said to be aware of the threats. 

Occupy Newcastle came under attack less than two weeks ago by 20-30 EDL/SDL/NF members who threw a brick(s) and held down protesters while beating them.

The 'English Defence League EDL' group was asked for a comment, but has not responded at time of writing.

EDL threatens Occupy LSX

Picture of to CxF members taken near the camp.

Comments made below picture

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

About this blog

Journalists may use content from this blog so long as they credit me (Fredrik Walløe, Journalist).

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The first post on this blog was published on September 1st 2011.

9615 people visited the blog in October 2011.

November 9: Student Demonstration - Liveblog

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Friday, 4 November 2011

Freedom Waves ships attacked by Israeli forces

The Freedom Waves ships have come under attack from Israeli boats and a military helicopter while still in international waters. Communications with the ships was lost shortly after one boat, the Tahrir, reported that Israeli boats were closing in. An earlier report said that the ships have been ordered to go to head for Egypt or turn around.

UPDATE: video of the ships being boarded

Reports state that the ships are being boarded, some say violently, but there appears to be no fatalities at this time. "Last thing I know is that fully armed soldiers boarded the Irish boat and activists didn't obey orders now they're boarding Tahrir", Palestine YouthVoice said. The two ships, carrying a total of 27 passengers and $30,000 worth of medicine and supplies, set off from Turkey on November 2.

Report from Press TV ahead of the boarding. More here.

"Israeli forces are responsible for the safety of everyone on board the ship - and the world is watching," The Canada Boat to Gaza said. The "estimated location of The Tahrir - now stopped and being boarded - was just 35 NM from Gaza".  A message from the Tahrir's  auxiliary communications system: 'IDF about to board the Tahrir'.
Tahrir, before setting off for Gaza. More here.

The ships were boarded, and are being led to the port of Ashdod, according to an IDF spokesperson. "The Israel Navy soldiers operated as planned, and took every precaution necessary to ensure the safety of the activists onboard the vessels as well as themselves," the spokesperson claimed.
This picture shows the Freedom Waves ships.

IDF - said that activists are "to be handed over police, examined and interrogated then deported for challenging Gaza blockade".

The IDF Chief of Staff "ordered the Israel navy to board the vessels after all attempt to contact them failed". An IDF spokesperson said "goods can be unloaded [at] Ashdod port and will be transferred into the Gaza Strip via the legal land crossings".

Both ships confirmed that they had been contacted by the Israeli navy. When activists aboard the Tahrir were asked for their destination at around 13:00 (Gaza time), Ehab Lotayef, an activist on board the ship, replied ‘The conscience of humanity’.  When the Israelis again demanded to know the destination of the ship Lotayef replied; ‘The betterment of mankind’, according to a press release.

This video appeared earlier today:

Hassan Ghani, a Press TV correspondent who is on one of the boats,  said in an interview that communications had been jammed and Israeli boats were closing in. Activists will offer passive non-violent resistance to the boarding. Ghani said a, military helicopter could be seen hovering above. Activists on the ship have described the attack as an illegal act of piracy.

Earlier this morning, activists aboard both ships were preparing for possible attack by the Israeli navy by training in nonviolent resistance tactics.

You can see the interview here:

The boats - Saoirse (Gaelic for freedom) and the Tahrir (Arabic for liberation) - are headed for Gaza in an attempt to break the siege. Ghani said that on "Tahrir there are 6 activists, 5 journalists, and the Captain - 12 in Total. On the Saoirse there are 15 activists, no journos". There are parliamentarians aboard the Saoirse, which is from Ireland. And the Tahrir "carries representatives from Canada, the U.S., Australia, and Palestine".

Picture of Israeli warships closing in.
Electronic Intifada reports that "the U.S. Representative on the Tahrir, Kit Kittredge, was a passenger on the U.S. Boat to Gaza, The Audacity of Hope mission in Athens in July".

"A journalist from Democracy Now is on the Tahrir also. Civil society organizations in Gaza await their arrival, and look forward to the delivery of letters collected from thousands of U.S. supporters in the To Gaza With Love campaign.

Jihan Hafiz from Democracy Now filed this video report from the Tahrir boat:

Huwaida Arraf, spokesperson from Freedom Waves to Gaza, said “It’s clear that 27 civilians on two small boats, carrying only medicine, constituted no security threat to the Israeli state, and that the determination to keep them out is only a furtherance of Israel’s policy of collective punishment, a crime against humanity. Despite this Israeli aggression, we will keep coming, wave after wave, by air, sea, and land, to challenge Israel’s illegal policies towards Gaza and all of Palestine. Our movement will not stop or be stopped until Palestine is free.” 

This map shows land mass in black and ocean in gray. Territorial waters are outlined in light purple (Electronic Intifada).

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Occupy Bradford taken to court over its refusal to leave

Occupy Bradford has been taken to court by Bradford Council for defying an eviction notice served Sunday which requested they remove all tents, people and possessions by 10am  Tuesday. The court date is set for November 4th.

The eviction notice was served at about 5.15pm on Monday by a representative of the council.. At a meeting that day the camp decided to "stay and let them go to court". Occupy Bradford is taking legal advice.

They were first contacted by a council member on Friday - the day they set up camp - who informed them "that the square was public land".

At an 11am meeting on Monday, Bob Parker, the City Centre Operations Manager, informed them that events were planned for Sunday 6th and 13th November and asked whether they could move so that the following events could go ahead:
  • Sunday, 6 November: The 4th Battalion The Parachute Regiment to Exercise the Freedom of the City.
  •  Sunday, 13 November: Remembrance Service, March departing City Hall for Cenotaph
Occupy Bradford made space for a YMCA event which took place on Saturday, and this was achnowledged by Parker. The group made an unanimous decision to move tents so as to allow access to the square. "We are not here to cause trouble for the people of Bradford", they added.

"We support strongly the right to protest peacefully but Centenary Square is a public space for all Bradfordians," Coun Imran Hussain, Deputy leader of Bradford Council, said. "The few people who are currently camping on Centenary Square have held their protest for several days now. Many local people attend events in Centenary Square, like the forthcoming Parachute Regiment’s Freedom of the City Parade and Remembrance Sunday. The Council has therefore asked the protestors to leave Centenary Square voluntarily and if necessary will seek a court order to remove them.”

Their press release can be read in full here:

Occupy Bradford Protest to continue despite legal threat

At approximately 5:15 yesterday a representative of Bradford Council visited the Occupy Bradford camp and presented a letter requesting the removal of all tents by 10am today, Tuesday 1st November. Should the tents remain, the letter threatened legal action against the camp, with the city solicitor proceeding seek a court order authorising the camp’s removal.
The General Assembly discussed the letter and it’s implications at length on Monday evening, and found consensus in a decision to continue the peaceful occupation. Despite accusations of trespass from the council, it is the camp’s opinion that our presence represents an exercising of our democratic right to protest. Occupy Bradford is currently taking legal advice on this matter.
The General Assembly also expressed a desire to co-operate as far as possible with Bradford Council and other involved parties to facilitate the smooth running of the Remembrance Day march, and other events booked for Centenary Square over the next couple of weeks. An open invitation remains to all who wish to participate in the camp or contribute to these discussions. The General Assembly, held at 6pm every weekday and 2pm weekends, will continue to consider all correspondence received.

Notes to Editors
Occupy Bradford is a non-aligned political camp considering itself a part of the global ‘occupy’ movement, protesting corporate greed in over 900 cities around the world. The occupation includes people from an ever-widening range of political and social backgrounds; workers, students, homeless; capitalist, anti-capitalist, conservative and progressive; and provides a space for the people of Bradford to voice their concerns and discuss alternatives to the current political and economic system. For more information, follow the #OccupyBradford hashtag on Twitter.

Text on the eviction notice received by Occupy Bradford. From the Occupation's Facebook group.

Minutes from an 11am Occupy Bradford meeting on October 31st.