As the victim of a crime, your story might interest the media.
You might want to speak with the media and have your story heard - or you might prefer to keep your story private.
Whatever your decision, it’s important to remember:
- the media may not report the story the way you expect – this can be quite upsetting
- you or your family may encounter extra and unwanted attention
- media publicity might mean you or your family are the subject of gossip.
Even if you do want to speak to the media, you should never discuss if someone has been arrested or if there are any legal proceedings in progress. This could affect the case, particularly if police are still investigating.
Publicity can affect police enquiries and court cases, so make sure you speak with the police or prosecution before speaking to the media.
If you decide to speak to the media, consider whether you want to:
- give an interview
- read out a statement
- nominate someone you trust to speak on your behalf
- ask the Commissioner to speak on your behalf
- release a written statement.
You do not have to speak to the media - even if they are very persistent.
- ask anyone who visits your home uninvited to leave - you can also call the police if they refuse
- say no to an interview - even if you have granted previous interviews
- refuse an interview with a specific reporter or channel
- choose the time and place for interviews
- exclude children from interviews
- speak with one reporter at a time
- choose not to answer any question you don't want to answer.
What can the media access?
The media can report on a crime, the investigation and criminal proceedings at any stage – including after the court case has finished.
The media often gathers information from as many sources including:
- asking you, your family and people you know questions
- speaking with police or other spokespeople
- questioning lawyers about the case
- looking at the court file.
Other things to think about
The police do not release the name of a deceased person without the consent of the next of kin. But the media can find other ways of identifying someone - for example, speaking to people who were at the scene or viewing a death notice.
They can also access court documents and report on what is in them - including Victim Impact Statements.
The media are prevented from identifying child victims.
The court can also prevent the media from identifying vulnerable victims or witnesses - but the media can still report on other details of the case.
In cases of a sexual nature, a defendant’s identity is no longer automatically suppressed. This means the media can report details about a defendant.
The media cannot report any details that might reveal your identity as a victim of a sexual assault unless you consent.
The police must make all reasonable efforts to tell you that a defendant’s name can be published after their first court appearance.
If you have any concerns about this you should talk to the investigating officer.
The Guide to the media for victims of crime booklet (PDF 1MB) from the NSW Department of Justice includes more helpful information.
You should think carefully about what you say or post on social media like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc.
What you say and post may be used in ways you have not thought about - for example, journalists often look for personal information on social media and can use this in their stories
You may be asked questions in court about things you post on social media
If you post anything that is threatening or abusive to a person it may be bullying. It may also be a criminal offence.
People may not respond in the way you expect and may post hurtful comments.
Make sure you check the security and privacy settings on your accounts.
Making a complaint
If you are unhappy with the way a person from the media has treated you or someone in your family, you can make a complaint.
You should first make a complaint to the media organisation responsible (the newspaper, television channel or radio station).
You can also complain to the: