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Why name offenders?

Letter

Re: Publishing the names of minor court offenders each week.

I wonder if the time has come to stop publishing the names of offenders in the local paper.

The shaming of people by publishing their names not only affects them but their children, parents, brothers and sisters, grandparents and the wider whanau members who have done no wrong and do not deserve to have their family name treated in this way because of the actions of one family member.

It also further alienates the offender from their community at a time that maybe they could do with more support to get them back on the right track.

As an editor I wonder what you feel the purpose of naming minor offenders serves to the readers of The Gisborne Herald.

Seanne Williams

See today’s editorial

  1. Lara says:

    I agree Seanne,
    In a small, close knit community such as ours, naming offenders in the local newspaper causes unnecessary shame and stress for their family members and friends.
    In a larger city, where offenders and their close personal contacts are afforded a degree of anonymity, naming and shaming in the media probably doesn’t cause such a degree of shame and distress. People don’t know you and recognise you and yours in the street.
    It feels morally wrong to me that without accompanying insight into the offenders’ backgrounds and life experiences to provide some context as to why the offending occurred, we name and shame.
    I know it is allowed and acceptable to report the names of offenders but that doesn’t make it right.

    1. Dave says:

      Easy, if you don’t want your name in the local paper, don’t do the crime. For many of the crimes, the public are entitled to know.

      1. Karen Cooper says:

        Absolutely. If offenders don’t want the publicity and to shame their families then start doing the right thing. Otherwise, how will the public know who to keep safe from?

    2. Ken Ovenden says:

      Hi Lara, once again more moralistic rant and rave. It can be determined that for many, many years the press has been able to publish convicted offenders’ details and sentence requirements; name suppression applies only under certain circumstances. This has been well understood by all concerned for well over 50-plus years. Just what political advantage are you seeking here Lara? One would have thought you would be all for name and shame given your past performances, LOL.

      1. Lara says:

        Ken,
        I see no problem with The Gisborne Herald reporting the names and details in cases such as the two high-profile ones this week. Namely Mr Bracken’s extensive fraud and the two murderers.
        Seanne and I are expressing uncertainty about the need to name and shame community members who have been convicted of crimes with a lesser sentence.
        Do we really need to know the names of the convicted and the sordid details of their crimes? It is highly unlikely we will ever meet any of them or that we move in similar social circles. I am thinking about the negative impact that type of publicity has on their children, partners and wider family members. I have heard children being bullied at school by other kids in relation to that type of publicity. It is upsetting to listen to and no doubt very traumatic for those young people!
        We all know that humans are often flawed and we all make mistakes from time to time. Some are serious enough to see a person brought before a judge. But in my opinion only the most serious need to be publicly shamed in our local media.
        Additionally, it’s unusual the way you attempt to give me a bit of low-grade headwork on this site while overlooking others who share my views. Do you have a crush Ken?

        1. Ken Ovenden says:

          Hi Lara, well it appears Dave and Karen also agree and do not share your views. Low-grade headwork for a head case usually works, not too crushing on the ego as well, LOL.

        2. withheld says:

          Lara,
          Not enough people realise just what a dangerous and violent society New Zealand is – we have the highest rate of family harm in the “civilised” world. The more people who know, the better.
          Bullying is just another offshoot of that same mentality.
          The reporting of crime by local media is not the reason students get bullied in school. They get bullied because of a much bigger, nationwide problem of intolerance and entrenched lack of kindness.
          The media have an important, authorised role in capturing a snapshot of crime in our community as much as any other aspect of it. (And far better to hear about it through the eyes of a qualified reporter than via speculation on Facebook and the like…)