Media reporting – maximise accuracy, minimise distress

The latest Mindframe News includes perspectives on the media and mental health from ABC Journalist Lexi Metherell and SANE Speaker Nicci Wall.

Both Nicci and Lexi share their experiences on how the Australian media cover mental illness and suicide-related issues, and how the complex subjects can be highly emotional for both the interviewee and the journalist.

Nicci and Lexi agree that while it is unusual for a journalist to deliberately misquote a source, interviewees should be aware that their comments are open to interpretation by the journalist and the audience.

Nicci says it is important to remember "a different interpretation of what you say is always going to be something you have to consider. Whilst your quotes in the final cut may be correct, the wording prior to or after your quote can significantly change the context in which they can be taken. This has rarely happened to me and on those occasions I do not believe it was intentional, but it did make me aware of how I verbalised different points of importance."

Lexi supports Nicci’s comments, adding that "for someone bereaved by suicide, the interview and the publication of their story may be traumatic, especially, if they're not used to being interviewed by media, and they're not prepared for the journalist's interpretation of their story.”

“I think it would be useful for reporters to know what they can do to minimise that distress, such as who best to refer that person to if they feel that they need someone to talk to about the interview."

Click here for Nicci’s column, and here for Lexi’s interview.