OPINION: We can't always 'name and shame' sex offenders

ONE of the first questions drilled into the head of every aspiring reporter is "who".

The name of the person we're writing about is one of the most basic and important facts in every story we cover.

Our job is to always tell readers as much as we know, but sometimes the question of "who" can raise legal issues of privacy.

Journalists are legally bound not to identify child sex offenders if doing so could identify the child victim.

This goes for domestic violence offences as well.

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We risk the safety of domestic violence victims if the offenders are named within the folds of this paper.

And in the age of Google, it carries even more weight.

A single mention on our website could follow someone digitally forever - offender or victim.

We understand the frustration from the community when we withhold identifying information, and we see your calls on social media to "name and shame".

Trust us, we see them.

We are just as angry and frustrated as you about these abhorrent crimes being committed in our community.

But above all else, we are obliged under law to protect the victims of these crimes.

Not only that, it can affect businesses or community organisations that are associated with the offenders.

Even further, it can obstruct the course of justice and trials are subsequently thrown out.

The victims will not see their rightful justice.

Whenever these stories cross our desks, they give us pause to ask another "w" question: why?

The best we can do is try to balance that question with our chief goal here at the South Burnett Times: to tell readers what we know.

South Burnett

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