A media expert yesterday urged journalists and reporters to be more conscientious and disciplined, especially when covering stories in which a suspect has not yet been proven guilty.
The call came in the wake of the suicide of a junior high school teacher in Taichung City who was accused last week of having an affair with one of his students.
The teacher was being prosecuted for the affair after the female student's mother sued him, but had not yet been convicted. Several media reports, however, had already revealed his name and the name of the school.
A photo of the teacher and the student even appeared on the front page of Apple Daily last Thursday, but the girl's face was blurred to prevent anyone from recognizing her.
The teacher committed suicide the same day.
The teacher's father blamed the media for the death of his son and said that he had committed suicide because of the picture, according to local reports.
Connie Lin (林育卉), director of the Broadcasting Development Fund, yesterday told the Taipei Times that the media should shoulder the responsibility for such "deaths."
The media has no right to "convict" anybody, she said.
The media often convicts suspects before they are charged with the actual crime, and media reportage is often a mixture of emotion, criticism and even hatred, Lin added.
"The media should learn not to make presuppositions," Lin said.
"Fundamentally, they [reporters] should possess higher morals and need to take more responsibility for what they report." She also said that it was hard for the media to be self-disciplined because nowadays it is too commercialized.
Everything is based on competition, she said, and reporters should not receive all the blame for the reports, as they receive pressure from their bosses.
Lin said that the media is forever testing the public's patience to see what kind of news they will tolerate, but if causing a death is the result, then reporters really need to develop a conscience.