Right to be Forgotten

(Last Updated On: August 11, 2017)

“Right to be forgotten” It’s a journalistic phrase that means sometimes a person has the right to not have their name included in a story so that they may overcome their past.

While I am one of the first people to criticize our courts for being way too lenient with hardened criminals, there is one recent story that is very sad.

A young mother, driven by poverty and the need to find food for her family, suffering in a physically abusive relationship, turns to shoplifting out of desperation. Not resellable goods but what she needed, produce, meat and shoes. It wasn’t until she was involved, unwillingly, in a petty theft that she gets brought to trial. She tells the court how she feared repercussion if she did not commit the crime. She didn’t want to anger the one who had abused her.

It’s an example of what hardships can drive a person to do. It’s an example of what a controlling manipulating abusive partner can do to a person.

The court and the prosecution showed her mercy, the media, however, did not. I can’t imagine the damage her mistakes, made out of desperation, have done to her and her child’s future. The media does not need to carve it in the internet stone.

One can only hope that the only good thing that may come of publicizing her name is that, instead of her community standing in judgment of her, someone will step forward and help her.

I had considered including the link to the article, but then I realized that would make me no better than the media that did not take the time to look beyond the information and see a human being that had taken the wrong path in a quest to survive the only way she saw available to her.

Media needs to ask themselves, “Does publishing the names serve the public’s best interest, or is it irrelevant and only serves to humiliate the object of the story?”
If it’s in the public’s interest to know the names, then it may be justified to publish them. But if it is done solely to satisfy the readers’ curiosity then, no, it is not justified. It is just gossip.

There are times when names are justified and in the best interest of the public. It is a fine line and I hope that I never opt for the wrong side of that line, as it is not an easy determination to make, but know that I will do my best to not abuse the power of the media to inflict undeserved hardship on anyone.

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Joanne Francis is the Editor and Journalist for Nipawin News and a member of The Canadian Association of Journalists.

Post Author: Joanne Francis

Joanne Francis is the Editor and Journalist for Nipawin News and a member of The Canadian Association of Journalists.