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Press privacy and respect

28 February 2013, 10:00

During the past two weeks we have all (judging by the number of comments at least) been captivated by the Oscar and Reeva saga.  The unprecedented interest, both locally and internationally, was no doubt fulled, in part at least, by the unprecedented press coverage.  Live tweets from inside the courtroom and a live broadcast of the bail judgment kept us all informed of proceedings.

Those proceedings and the two "main events" are now over.  Oscar has been dealt the "get out of jail card" and Reeva has been laid to rest.  Now is that not a contradiction in terms.  Just yesterday News24 had no less than 5 front page stories featuring her name - and they all mentioned "leaks" and requests for the privacy of the families to "be respected".

Now we all know that respect is not given freely, but has to be earned.  Perhaps even more so in a time of tragedy when the keyword is - or should be - dignity.  Especially the dignity of the victims.  I have no problems with a statement or two at appropriate times, whether through a family spokesman or a PR firm, but then SHUT THE HELL UP.  No comment says more than "NO COMMENT".  The more you give (or leak to) the press, and the more ambiguous or misleading the headlines or stories, the more you are going to be hounded.

Yesterday's headlines included that Reeva's family are having financial difficulties.  This seems to be intensely personal.  Today there are (and tomorrow and the next day there will be more) familities who are in financial difficulty because their breadwinner as been brutally murdered, or is so traumatised by a violent crime that they are unable to work.  Sadly, we do not even know who most of these people are - they merely become a statistic.

Did he or didn't he ? We all know he did because he said so.  Was she pregnant or wasn't she ? I say let the court case and the evidence tell the tale.  The truth will, hopefully, come out.

Until then, let's all try to act in a dignified manner out of respect for all concerned (even if we don't think it has been earned) and perhaps give the families the space they want.  And to the families, try the NO COMMENT line next time you are hounded, or ask your lawyers or PR firm to say it for you.

Oh yes, and let's try to stop the "leaks"....... they tend to flood your space.

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