Inquiry: Read the article

Courier Mail article

Problems with this article were:

  • It had a long unnecessary heading, which did not grab enough attention
  • The lead sentence did not state the 5W’s and 1H appropriately
  • It came across as repetitive because the reporter kept saying similar things
  • There were present and past tense included in the report for example ‘the incident is already having a flow on rail commuters…’ (present tense) when most of the report was past tense.
  • Some of the information was contradictory ‘…fire crews continue their rescue efforts’ then in the next paragraph ‘…services reportedly freed the woman…’


Recommendations for reporting self-harm:

Self-harm is a deliberate act of self-inflicted injury intended to cause physical pain as a means of managing difficult emotions, or as a way of communicating distress to others, but not to result in death.

Self-harm and suicide are distinct and separate acts although some people who self-harm are at an increased risk of suicide. Acts of  self-harm should always be taken seriously as they can be physically dangerous and may indicate an underlying mental health issue. Consider the below recommendations.

• Minimise detailed description of methods: If it is important to the story, discuss the method in general terms such as ‘self-harm’ or ‘self-injury’. Explicit depictions of self-harm have been linked to copycat behaviour and methods of self-harm are often similar or the same as methods of suicide.

• Ensure accuracy and balance: Balanced reporting that provides insight into the realities of self-harm can increase community understanding and reduce the stigma associated with self-harm.
• Reduce the prominence of a story: Place a story on the inside pages of a newspaper or further down the order of broadcast reports and remove ‘self-harm’ from headlines.

• Take care not to perpetuate inaccurate stereotypes: This includes stereotypes such as that people self-harm to manipulate others or situations, attract attention, feign suicide, or belong to a subculture as this can lead to negative community attitudes and stigma.

• Use appropriate language: Take care not to use colloquialisms or terminology out of context. Referring to self-harm as a ‘fad’ or ‘phase’ can minimise the seriousness of the issue. Separate a person from their behaviour, as using labels to describe people as ‘cutters’ or ‘self-harmers’ can lead to stigma.

• Include help-seeking information: This provides support options for people who may be distressed or prompted to seek help following the story. See page 14 for examples of  help-seeking information.

Source: Mindframe-media info.

As explained above the article meet most of the guidelines for reporting self-harm/suicide for example it  stated ‘Police said they are treating the incident as one of self-harm’, it did not have any dramatic photographs attached and it was written with some empathy.  However it gave direct location details instead of  generalised details of the location.


Practical: Rewrite the above article so that it is not repetitive and makes more sense.


Woman wedged under train in Brisbane

Just after 12pm on Wednesday a woman was injured by a train on Brisbane’s north side.

The woman believed to be in her 30s was reportedly freed by emergency services at 12.55pm.

‘The woman is currently conscious and has lower leg injuries and has be taken to the Royal Brisbane Hospital in a serious condition’ said a Queensland Ambulance Service spokeswoman.

Police said they are treating the incident as one of self-harm.

For help with emotional difficulties, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14

For help with depression, contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36

The SANE Helpline is 1800 18 SANE (7263)


Quiz: Style, completed 12/10/2016

This weeks quiz asked ten questions and to read Chapter eleven of Hicks, English for Journalist in preparation for the quiz.

After two attempts 9/10 and then 10/10 I gained 100%.  There was confusion on my behalf with what the ‘most important factor influencing the way a story is written…’ as I first said ‘the subject’ but it was ‘the needs of the reader’ that is the most important factor.  I read the text as saying the subject was the first and most important factor but in hindsight it should have been the needs of the reader out of the choices given.


References 201  , media reporting suicide, viewed 10 October 2016


The 2014, mistakes were made detecting the sneaky passive voice, viewed 10 September 2016


O’Brien, C 2014, ‘Woman stuck under train at Eagle Junction Train Station, Brisbane’The Courier-Mail, 10 September, viewed 10 October 2016


Wynford Hicks (2013). English for Journalists: Twentieth Anniversary Edition (Special edition). New York, New York, USA: Routledge.