Friday, December 15, 2006

The News This Week ... Art or Science?

Well, what a strange week it has been this week. The news has been focussed on really one thing: the murders in Suffolk. Indeed, tonight we had a thirty minute 'BBC News Special' as we had not heard enough already. That said, there has been a slight feeling of panic about all of this.

Let's start by getting things in perspective: the 'Suffolk Ripper' as the killer is being called is horrific. Five deaths in two weeks and the possibility of more killings over the last 14 years. It is worrying. The speed is remarkable the infamous 'Jack the Ripper' killed the same number over 10 weeks and was never found. The 'Yorkshire Ripper' killed 13 over 5 years amd there were two gaps beyween murders of over a year. So, this is fast, deadly and worrying. I cannot remember in recent times such a killing spree.

What interests me more is the lack of information we have. No precise times. Few details. The media call the murderer 'he' but it remains unconfirmed the sex of the killer. The media demand and there just seems to be no details available. So, what we have is a debate on prostitution and the size of Police forces.

So, there is a sense of reporting an unknown and, as a journalist, that is more frightening as the emphasis shifts from hard fact to speculation. This is where journalism is split between an art and a science. An art in its language in its avoidance of a definite point of view, a science in its precision and basis on facts.

And this is very much the role of the police. Combining hypothesis as to what happened in Suffolk with hard, scientific fact proving the death. Therefore, in this case, the media and the police have a lot in common. Perhaps, by working together they can solve this crime and the media can stop filling our ears with, frankly, dull debates.



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