Opinion: What’s the harm in waiting?

The professionals in the news media have to find the balance between people's right to privacy and everyone else's desire to know.

The media is frequently on the receiving end of a lot of criticism. Journalists are often pegged as heartless opportunists who care only about getting the story with little regard about who they have to step on to get it.

For the most part I would say this is an exaggeration, but every once in a while I look at the conduct of my peers and I have to shake my head.

There was a tragedy near Golden this week. A very experienced ski guide lost his life in an avalanche. Humanity has a fascination with these kinds of stories, so it’s no surprise that the national media picked up on the story right away. People want to read about it.

But this is the moment when the professionals in the news media have to find the balance between people’s right to privacy and everyone else’s desire to know.

On Thursday March 12, two days after the incident, the coroner’s service still had not officially released the name. The morning after the incident the ski guide company and the RCMP released limited details of the incident, specifically stating that the name would not be released until notification of next of kin.

Well by Thursday morning, even Wednesday evening, almost every media outlet said they had confirmed the identity of the skier, although it wasn’t made clear exactly how.

Although I have a lot of respect for these professional peers of mine, I have to say I am quite disappointed in their decisions. The obsession to be the first to know, the first to get the scoop, has possibly come at the cost of this family’s piece of mind. There has been absolutely no confirmation that the family has been notified yet, as this man is not local. It is quite possible that they found out online when they read a story on one of the national media outlets.

There was no illegal activity, no foul play in the incident near Sorcerer Lodge. Therefore there is no reason to suspect that the RCMP or coroner’s office would withhold the identity of the victim longer than they have to. So why do the sleuthing ourselves and jump to conclusions? What would be so terrible about waiting for this piece of information until the authorities are comfortable releasing it?

No one wants to be the last to know in this industry, it makes us look like we’re not doing our jobs. But if we all followed a few ethical guidelines a little more closely, then we’d all receive confirmation at the same time. No one would be the last to know, and no family member would have to learn of this tragedy from a website.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19 test tube. (Contributed)
test tube with the blood test is on the table next to the documents. Positive test for coronavirus covid-19. The concept of fighting a dangerous Chinese disease.
Interior Health launches online booking for COVID-19 tests

Testing is available to anyone with cold, influenza or COVID-19-like symptoms

Morning Start: Selfies Kill More People Than Sharks

Your morning start for Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020

A health-care worker prepares to swab a man at a walk-in COVID-19 test clinic in Montreal North, Sunday, May 10, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes)
Interior Health records 21 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend

Thirty-six cases remain active; two people are in the hospital, one of whom is in intensive care

Gabrielle Clarke is an art therapist in Golden who works in mixed media art. Clarke’s art will be on display downtown at the Go-Lab. (Gabrielle Clarke photo)
Mixed media arts show comes to Go-Lab

Clarke’s art will be on display until Nov. 6

FILE – People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

A 20-year-old man was pronounced dead following a three vehicle collision on Highway 1 west of Revelstoke Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020. (File photo)
One dead after Highway 1 crash near Revelstoke

20-year-old man pronounced dead at the scene of a three vehicle collision west of Revelstoke

Steven Stuart Gardner has been charged with possession of a firearm contrary to an order and possession of a firearm without a licence. He has also been charged, under the Motor Vehicle Act, with driving while prohibited. (Crime Stoppers photo)
Car connected to shooting, dumped in Chase leads to unrelated arrest

Investigation of Kamloops shooting leads police to a rural Chase property

Volunteer registered nurse Stephanie Hamilton recieves a swab from a driver as she works at a Covid-19 testing site in the parking lot at Everett Memorial Stadium on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020 in Everett, Washington. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
13 more COVID-19 cases in Interior Health region

There are 624 cases in the region since the start of the pandemic

The body of Natsumi Kogawa, 30, was found in the Gabriola Mansion on Davie Street, Vancouver, in September 2016. Vernon man William Schneider, who was found guilty of second-degree murder, now awaits the decision of his appeal hearing Monday, Oct. 19, 2020. (Vancouver Police Department photo)
No decision yet for Vernon man appealing murder sentence

William Victor Schneider was convicted in relation to Natsumi Kogawa’s death in 2016

Vernon once again boasts the lowest gas prices in B.C. Oct. 20, 2020. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
North Okanagan boasts lowest gas prices in B.C.

Gas going up, and down, in Vernon specifically

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 particle isolated from a patient, in a laboratory in Fort Detrick, Md. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-NIAID/NIH via AP
At least 49 cases of COVID-19 linked to wedding in Calgary: Alberta Health

McMillan says the city of Calgary has recently seen several outbreaks linked to social gatherings

École de L’Anse-au-sable. (Google Maps)
COVID-19 confirmed at Kelowna Francophone school

École de L’Anse-au-sable is not affiliated with local SD23

Most Read