Jackie Newton

The knock at the door: Considering bereaved families' varying responses to news media intrusion

Relationships between the news media and the 'newsworthy' bereaved have long been problematic, with the attention of scholars and journalists alike concentrating on the issues of intrusion and harassment during grief. This study begins to consider media approaches from the position of the families themselves and finds that, although there is some evidence of anger at intrusion, there is more evidence of harm caused by neglect, inaccuracy and insensitivity. It also finds that some families have felt excluded by the news media from the stories of their relatives' deaths despite a willingness to engage with journalists.

Keywords: intrusion, trauma, death knock, bereaved, victims, ethics


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Note on the contributor

Jackie Newton is a senior lecturer in journalism at Liverpool John Moores University. She has 30 years' experience as a print journalist, carrying out her first death knock at the age of 17, and going on to doorstep bereaved relatives for regional newspapers and as a freelance for tabloid national newspapers. She has also worked on journalism education initiatives with Support After Murder and Manslaughter Merseyside. She is currently working with Dr Sallyanne Duncan of Strathclyde University on a research project considering sensitive reporting with vulnerable interviewees and they are joint authors of the paper, How do you feel: Preparing novice reporters for the death knock. Contact details: Journalism Department, Screen School, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool Innovation Park, 360 Edge Lane, Liverpool L7 9NJ; tel: +44 (0)151 231 4837; email: J.Newton1@ljmu.ac.uk.