Hot on the heels of the DPP’s stern warning to the media come fresh concerns about the professionalism of “sections” of the local press. This time around the big question centers on whether “questionable” behavior on the part of reporters is aided and abetted by members of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force.
Only last month a statement from the DPP’s office appealed to “the media fraternity . . . to exercise caution in interviewing and displaying the images of potential witnesses who may be at the scenes of crime and/or involved in ongoing police investigations.”
Additionally: “It is contempt of court under section 380 (1) (g) to publish any matter intended to or likely to prejudice the fair trial or conduct of criminal proceedings and to publish any matter which prejudges issues to be tried or are being tried by the court. The cooperation of the media fraternity will be greatly appreciated.”
For some time now there have been official complaints about the way the local media report certain incidents, particularly when it comes to the filming and photographing of crime scenes and the publication of related photographs. Particularly disturbing to many is that photos taken of accident casualties often end up in the hands of media personnel even before family members have been contacted by the police or by friends. And while in some instances these photos were obviously taken by private individuals at the scene of an accident, there is also the strong suspicion members of the RSLPF may be supplying particular media outlets with gruesome pictures from crime scenes and accidents for pay.
The STAR put the question to acting police chief Errol Alexander this week. “It is something that we are currently looking into from our end,” Alexander said acknowledging that the possibility did exist. However, he stressed that at the other end the media also has the responsibility to act in an ethical manner and respect persons’ rights to privacy, “And to go about their duties without infringing on the rights of others or breaking the law.”
This week the Minister of Health Alvina Reynolds took issue with those who had placed on the internet pictures of a half-naked young woman whose body was discovered on the rocks at Anse Chastanet, near her wrecked vehicle.
It would appear that getting it right no longer matters, that only getting it first does. Hopefully we will not soon see life imitating art, with overzealous photographers rearranging crime scenes in the fashion of the 2014 movie Nightcrawler, to create more exciting, not to say more commercial footage, aided and abetted by some who swore to protect and serve.