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Reporter pens explainer on ‘why we cover inquests’

Kate CroninA reporter has penned a lengthy explainer on why journalists cover inquests amid complaints on Facebook about publishing people’s ‘personal info.’

Kate Cronin of the Northants Telegraph wrote a piece highlighting the role that inquest coverage can play in uncovering wrongdoing, exposing flaws in the system and ultimately helping families discover the reasons for the deaths of their loved ones.

In the piece, Kate makes clear that while NT journalists will always aim to ensure inquests are reported sensitively and accurately, the newspaper will not accede to requests to remove inquest reports from its website.

And she says that rather than being surprised to find stories online, families should always assume that an inquest is going to be covered by the press or wider media.

Wrote Kate, pictured: “Covering inquests is not a job any journalist relishes. But it is a vital part of our job and one that can uncover wrongdoing, can expose flaws in systems and can ultimately help families discover the reasons behind the death of their loved-ones.

“It is in the public interest that people are able to hear the circumstances behind any untimely death because there may have been unfair or inaccurate rumours in the community that can be cleared up by accurate and concise coverage of the inquest.

“There are many lessons that can be learned from inquests. Drawing the attention of the public to the circumstances surrounding someone’s death could be key to preventing similar deaths in the future. Explaining how drug or alcohol abuse led to someone’s death may encourage others to seek help for addiction. Showing how the high speed of a driver caused a fatal crash may act as a warning for those who drive too quickly. Reporting on the details what happened before a person took their own life may raise warning flags for the loved-ones of others who may be considering the same.

“There is a real chance that coverage of inquests can prevent similar deaths in the future.

Kate went on: “Before any inquest a coroner’s officer should always tell families that the media will be present at an inquest. You should always assume that an inquest is going to be covered by the press or wider media and that coverage will be online a short time after the verdict.

“We know that the facts outlined at inquests can often be stark or upsetting and that the details sometimes do not represent the essence of a person or the many great things they did in their lives.

“We are always keen to speak to relatives so that they can add tributes, or can tell us why their loved-one was so special to them. We are always happy to include extra detail in our reports to ensure that we do justice to their memory.

“Unfortunately we will not remove reports of inquests from our website but we are always happy to correct genuine typographical errors.”

Kate told HTFP that there had been no particular incident which prompted the piece, other than regular complaints about inquest coverage on Facebook.

She said:  “It gets a bit exhausting responding to each person individually on FB telling us how disgusting we are for publishing people’s personal info after every single inquest so this is just something we can use to refer them back to.”