Statement on Post-Inquest Press Coverage – 27 January 2016

It is distressing to think that these journalists – purveyors of my own chosen craft – cannot afford their subjects the dignity of detail.

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Nearly six months ago, a friend of mine died. I held him in very high esteem and, unsurprisingly, still think about him often. Yesterday the inquest into his death was held, and the Exeter Express and Echo reported the verdict on its website.

They wrongly described my friend as being from Maidstone, not Maidenhead. Whilst this inaccuracy is surely distressing to those who were closest to him, it is not the first time the Kent county-town has been confused with the Berkshire dormitory dwelling. Nor will it be the last. It is regrettable, yet forgivable.

What is not forgivable is the throng of other newspapers who, sensing scope to further sensationalise the story, quickly copied the Exeter paper’s piece without bothering to check facts.

That is lazy journalism, and it is inexcusable.

When the information is so readily available online (simply searching my friend’s name followed by the letter ‘m’ helpfully autosuggests ‘Maidenhead’), there is no reason for such sloppiness. It is distressing to think that these journalists – purveyors of my own chosen craft – cannot afford their subjects the dignity of detail. To them, the ‘dead teen’ is only that: news fodder.

Only the BBC correctly described my friend as being from Maidenhead. Credit to them. The other news organisations should, for once, not whinge about how its journalism is threatening their industry, but instead carefully take note.

The text in this entry was originally posted to Facebook.

Andrew Burdett

Andrew Burdett is a 20-year-old from Maidenhead in Berkshire. A self-professed "lover of life", he enjoys a busy calendar of activities and engagements. With regular involvement in the Scout Association and his church, he was made Head Boy in his final year at school. After a gap-year spent as a Teaching Assistant at a local junior school, he is now half-way through his Journalism Studies degree at the University of Sheffield. In his spare time, he swims, reads, and enjoys writing about himself in the third-person.