While New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern called on the media to not name the accused who killed more than 50 in two mosque attacks this month, the Guardian did, The Guardian’s readers editor Paul Chadwick reported.
“Though the Guardian, like most professional media outlets, did not circulate the Christchurch shooter’s video or screed, readers wrote to me to admonish the paper for continuing to refer to the accused shooter by name,” Chadwick wrote. “Copy Ardern, they urged.”
The Guardian’s editor-in-chief Katharine Viner told Chadwick that it would “undermine” the Guardian’s reporting to not name the shooter. “However, we do think it’s important to ensure that the terrorist’s identity is not overly represented in our coverage, and that our coverage also focuses on the victims,” Viner is quoted as saying.
The Guardian declined to comment to iMediaEthics beyond Viner’s comments to Chadwick.
Chadwick argued that it was important to provide information about the attack to counter conspiracy theories and ignorance. “Suppression of information about the identity, acts and motivations of a terrorist is a self-defeating defensive crouch,” Chadwick wrote.
He added, “Be confident that our communities can be exposed to the facts about how and why a dreadful crime was committed, without tending toward either paralysing fearfulness or mindless emulation.