Dealing with the media
Some crimes – especially homicide cases or crimes involving high profile people – attract media attention.
It is your choice whether you want to speak to the media. If you do decide to speak to the media the following tips can help:
- nominate someone you trust to speak on behalf of the family
- use an answer phone or caller ID to filter calls
- decide with family and friends what information you want to share, including on social media such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, as the media will use this information
- discuss with your officer in charge what photos you want to give to the media
- remember that any footage of photos/videos that you allow the media to use can be used in the future
- when possible, ask police to notify you of media releases they are making before they release them to the media
- ask the reporter for any questions in advance and ask if you are being recorded
- you do not have to answer any question you do not wish to answer, you can request a correction if a report is inaccurate and set conditions to protect your privacy or safety
- if you choose not to speak to the media, you can simply say ‘no comment’
- be aware of any incorrect information given by friends or other people
- remember there is no such thing as ‘off the record’ – the media will use anything you say at anytime.
You can download these guidelines from Victim Support’s website(external link).
The police do not release the name of a deceased person without the consent of the next of kin. However, the media may find other ways of identifying someone, for example, speaking to people who were at the scene or viewing a death notice.
Most courts and court cases are open to the media and the public.
The media sometimes access court documents through the courts and report on what is in them. Court documents include such things as the facts sheet / summary of charges, parties’ names and transcripts of what is said in court.
Victims of sexual violence and children are protected from being identified by the media. In some other cases, the prosecutor may ask the court to prevent identification of other witnesses who are vulnerable. However, the media can still report on the nature and details of the case.
Media reports can often take people by surprise when they were not expecting it or did not know the things the report contains.
If you have any concerns or questions about the media, contact the officer in charge of your case or Victim Support on 0800 VICTIM (0800 842 846).
If you want to make a complaint about something reported in the media you should first complain to the editor of the relevant publication. If the complaint is not resolved by the editor, you can make a complaint to the New Zealand Press Council(external link).