BBC defends silence on Chandler release

The BBC has defended its decision to not reveal any information about the Chandler couple before their freedom and safety could be guaranteed from Somalian pirates that held them hostage for more than a year.

Paul and Rachel Chandler’s family obtained a super-junction months before their release, which prohibited the media from reporting any details about their situation in case it jeopardised their safety.

While some outlets ignored the super-injunction to get the scoop ahead of competitors, the BBC held back from reporting the Chandlers’ situation until it was clear they were safe.

“While we’re not in the business of censoring the news, no story is worth a life,” wrote world news editor Jon Williams on the BBC Editor’s blog.

“Some other news organisations did not – which is why, for some hours during the Chandlers’ dangerous journey through Somalia to the safety of Kenya, the BBC stayed silent while pictures of the couple could be seen elsewhere.

“At its simplest, journalism is about telling people things they don’t know – so it’s always difficult for us not to report a story. But sometimes there are good reasons. There is no public interest in breaking the law, simply to claim a scoop.”

(Source: BBC Editors Blog, Beehive City)

This article appears in issue 261 of Media Digest.

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