There’s been a massive backlash on social media to an article posted by the Mail reporting on a Barrow woman’s public nuisance conviction, after suffering a mental health episode on a bridge in the town.
The comments get very heated and most of them criticise the paper for naming the defendant:
“…to top it off the Evening Mail think its ok to print the story including her name for the whole town to read??? Absolutely disgusting”
“Why share the lasses name? I highly doubt she wanted her name to be added to the article never mind the article to be published.”
“I think the Mail may actually be in breach of privacy laws due to the nature of the lady’s condition.”
It’s seen to be virtuous to show the process of justice being done.
It’s unlikely, save from rumours, that there would be public knowledge of such a contentious case being heard in Barrow if the Mail hadn’t published the story.
Why publish the defendant’s name, address and age? It’s the most accurate way to report on the case, and it is protection from accidentally libelling another person with the same name living in the area.
There’s nothing stopping the paper from not publishing the defendant’s name but it does open itself up to a greater risk of libel if it decided to print any partially identifying information such as age and her home street.
Editors could have decided to not cover the case at all.
I’m glad they didn’t do this because as the reaction has shown, there may now be questions asked by Barrovians over how the case came to be tried in court.
P.S. If you enjoyed that wall of text, I recommend buying a copy of McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists
because now anyone with a social media account can fall foul to the risks, and backlashes, that used to be reserved for hacks and their editors.