Freedom of the press is the bedrock of democracy and must be jealously guarded at all expense. Similarly, the right to a fair trial is foremost and inextricably linked to liberty and the preservation of a democratic society.
A delicate balance must at all times be achieved between these two very essential pillars, unless the framework of democracy will be decimated.
The recent story by Mr. James Whittaker, titled “No charges yet in exotic pet investigation” flirts very dangerously with offsetting this balance and potentially undermines the trust, confidence and impartiality one is entitled to expect from a responsible journalist. The title of the story is self-evident, and requires no further examination.
There appears a vast inconsistency and selectivity in the practice of naming suspects prior to charge.
In this case Mr. Whittaker has singled out one of the suspects and has found it fit to highlight the suspect’s association with a sitting member of the Legislative Assembly, who has no connection whatsoever to the incident except family ties.
To whom much is given, much is expected. The excessive and unabated coverage of this story leaves much to be desired in terms of responsible journalism and one can only hope that greater restraint will in the future prevail and the temptation for sensational and scandalous journalism passionately resisted.
Richard H. Barton Jr.