AJE UpdatesResearch

Lecturer in media ethics attacks Robin Williams reporting

Dr Douglas Chalmers, senior lecturer in media and journalism at Glasgow Caledonian University, has attacked the reporting of Robin Williams’ death.

In an article for The Drum he writes:

The details of how he carried out his suicide reported in a lurid manner – sometimes in bulletpoint headlines – by papers such as the Sun, the Mirror, and the Mail are of no positive benefit to anyone. They also run the risk of bringing about copycat actions by individuals who perhaps may feel seriously depressed or have mental health issues. At worst this might bring them to act in a similar way in the belief that this could bring about a personal association with their former on-screen hero.


There exists very clear guidelines produced by the NUJ which outline acceptable ways of covering suicide in the press.

It states: “Reporting suicide carries a responsibility for writers and editors in regard to the most vulnerable and exposed members of society. It is essential to understand the serious implications that the language we use can have on those affected.”

Link: Newspapers got it wrong in their reporting of Robin Williams’ death