Care of the community
How does a community feel when it suddenly finds itself caught up in the whirlwind of a terrible tragedy that also becomes a major news event? My colleague Tim Fenton, who was brought up in Ipswich, gave the BBC News website a telling insight into the distress this can cause, even for those not directly touched by events.
The Suffolk town and the surrounding area have been at the centre of unwanted attention from across the World following the murder of five women. With a population of about 140,000, Ipswich is in Tim’s words, "much like any town anywhere". As he points out it is big – but not so big as to be impersonal, and clearly local people have been sharing the sense of trauma. One reader wrote on our Have Your Say page: “I live approx 10 mins walk from the football ground - the area where the girls went missing from. I'm not normally a nervous person, but certainly won't be going out anywhere on my own anytime soon.”
As journalists we have been trying to reflect these feelings without adding unnecessarily to the fear that is already gripping many parts of this community. For reporters on the ground there is also the difficult balance to strike between accurately reflecting the mood of local people while trying to avoid being excessively intrusive.
There has also been a need to reflect carefully on the overall tone of a story whose consequences have spread far beyond the families most directly affected. It’s not possible to claim we always get that right, but we should be able to reconcile the journalist’s instinct to report the news while always keeping such concerns in mind.