I have run through various scenarios through my head as to how I could have seen news events followed, alas, my lack of media training, chemically and emotionally affected behaviors and memories, etc. probably also contributed to the mess of news reporting I currently am in disagreement with. While I understand peoples' motivations for a clear story (definitely for my family and friends who were all surprised and wanting more information), at the time I wasn't able to give it, nor was I in a position to have my space invaded when in a state such as that. My frustration lies in not being able to communicate that properly nor there being any respect for those wishes. My morphine-addled brain was up until 4am one night trying to craft a press release on behalf of my family that called for privacy and space to only be replied with front page newspaper and Internet articles later that day emblazoned with my name and Facebook profile picture (surely that's some kind of copyright violation?), whom all had super sleuth reporters scouring the Internet for any scrap of my presence or character as something to use in the report. But where does one reliably notify a body of news media? Luckily I have a cousin who worked at parliament with experience in such matters and he was able to send it out.
Another issue was that in the reports regarding my injuries there was information that I hadn't even heard myself, so perhaps there was some private information gleaned from the hospital which we had requested (from the hospital) not to be made public. The Cairns Base Hospital media liaison was more interested in how we could make money from the story rather than informing us of our patient rights and how we could adequately express our request for privacy from the media.
How are the media supposed to get the story right, if they don’t ask the person/people involved what happened? Where are they supposed to get the “actual truth” from?
I'm not too familiar with journalism's practices, but it probably involves tracking down other people involved, asking them and verifying those facts with more people involved. If there aren't enough verified and consistent facts, I would assume that it needs more time for the story to develop and be researched and doesn't require an immediate knee-jerk article or headline based on conjecture. My immediate (probably crass) reply is to say "don't rely on Google and other journalists and do some actual journalism". The story's crux doesn't always start and end at the immediate individuals' involved. There was a time early on in the piece where I was a NZ scientist, we had been attacked by a whole tribe and after receiving two arrows to the chest we ran 20km+ through jungle to get to the hospital. Investigative journalism is now something I have utmost respect for when people do it well.
It was about 5 months after I finally found the Press Council complaints form (http://www.presscouncil.org.nz/complain.php) and I also wasn't confident my complaints were sound enough to be carried through (plus it felt there was an added complexity regarding internet articles and the archiving of the various versions). The initial "damage" had been done anyway; I felt a bit helpless regarding the whole situation.
Speaking as a person who was recipient to a traumatic event and extensive media coverage as a result, I can honestly assure that a majority of mainstream news and publication outlets would sell whatever limbs, organs and grandmothers readily available in order to better their financial position. I saw my story twisted through various forms of fiction within New Zealand and abroad and was appalled by the lack of respect to myself, my partner at the time, the people whom we lived with in the jungle and the general public audience as well. Some of the reporters' conduct in Australia and New Zealand were also shameful in attempting to obtain interviews with myself and harrasment of my family and their constant pestering at a time where respectful space would have been more appropriate.
I understand the quick news cycle is key motivator, as is a juicy exploitable narrative and best leveraging it to sell advertising, however I feel that from my experience that all victims of traumatic incidents be granted some basic respect for their human rights and dignity. One thing most people aren't knowledgeable or taught is how to handle rabid news media -- I can honestly say that it further compelled a very hard period in my life that wouldn't have been so had the actual truth been communicated and for myself to have been allowed the time to process my experiences and recover from my ordeal. I'm still having to explain my story to family and friends thanks to rushed, erroneous and exploitative reporting.
I would like to give a shout out to Campbell Live and TV3 for hiring producers and reporters whom respected my space, didn't push me for tears and allowed the story to speak for itself, rather than dressing up a bunch of mostly wrong facts and conjecture gleaned from a poorly written overseas article. Integrity and respect are important factors contributing to news media gravitas, and going off my experience I'd say that it is the thing lacking in a lot of mainstream NZ and overseas news media agencies.