Opinion by Editor GARRY HOWE
THE murder of Pakenham mother of three Kylie Blackwood has undoubtedly attracted keen public interest.
The brutal and seemingly indiscriminate nature of the crime has rocked the community and reaction to it has reverberated well beyond this area.
The media is not only justified in reporting developments in the investigation but can play a crucial role in helping to nab the offender by shining a light on the case to flesh out any clues from within the community.
What it can’t justify is harassing a grieving family to the point of distress, for no other reason than to secure an exclusive interview in a highly competitive environment.
Police last week took the extraordinary step of trying to muzzle the media pack.
They said the Blackwood family had been fielding calls from the media daily since the events of 1 August, causing them significant distress. Surely that’s crossing the line between legitimate public interest and self-interest?
There were also reports of Kylie’s parents hunting photographers and reporters away from the family home soon after the murder.
It may seem hypocritical of the Gazette to criticise the media for such behavior, given that we operate in the same space.
The Gazette has made a conscious decision not to be part of this behavior and has not once tried to contact Peter Blackwood or his family since the murder.
We believe readers expect more of their local paper in terms of the way we handle stories like this. We live and work in the communities we serve and must be more responsible and accountable, but we do not pretend to be immune from criticism as we tread this fine line.
Those in the more mainstream media don’t have that same sense of responsibility to the community.
As the media conference broke up last Thursday, a member of the media pack sidled up to the Gazette reporter and asked: “What was her name again?”
Her name is Kylie. She was a wife and mother and would want her family left alone to grieve in peace.