Knocking on the door: journalists' experiences

Paddy Shennan, Tanya Thompson, Emma Bird

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


In this chapter three journalists reflect on their actions when covering stories about the bereaved. Their accounts raise issues about the journalist’s emotional turmoil, their feelings about the death knock story, being professional, consideration of the bereaved and traumatised, their purpose and role, and thinking about the effect of their reporting on those in the story and beyond. For many journalists the accurate and sensitive reporting of death is one of the most challenging tasks they will perform in their career. When reporting sudden tragic loss they need to be concerned about the unpredictability of the relatives’ response to their contact and intruding on what many would regard as a private time. Paddy Shennan of the Liverpool Echo reflects on twenty-eight years of reporting the Hillsborough disaster and the campaign for justice; Tanya Thompson considers self-censorship and obligations to interviewees in her reporting of a witness to the Dunblane tragedy; Emma Bird explains how her brother’s suicide shapes her approach to reporting trauma and demonstrates the “enormous chasm separating journalists and the bereaved”.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationReporting Bad News: Negotiating the Boundaries Between Intrusion and Fair Representation in Media Coverage of Death
EditorsSallyanne Duncan, Jackie Newton
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherPeter Lang International Academic Publishers
ISBN (Print)9781433142970
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Publication series

NameMass Communication and Journalism
PublisherPeter Land Publication


  • media ethics
  • journalism
  • self-censorship
  • disaster
  • unlawfully killed
  • death knocks
  • commemoration
  • suicide bereavement
  • reporting taboo

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication


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