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The politician's son

The question is one of four relating to The public interest test training module.

Picture of smoking by Chuck Grimmett released under Creative Commons

You are the news editor. The newsdesk receives a tip that the son of the government’s education minister is in trouble with the police. According to the tip, he has been found with marijuana in his possession.

There is a debate currently going on in parliament and the press about whether offenders holding small amounts of marijuana should be prosecuted. The quantity involved in this case is not known.

The minister has not taken sides in the debate. The son is not a public figure and has not previously been the subject of any news stories. He is 24 years old and works as a teacher in a school for children with learning disabilities.

Your first response as a news editor is:

a) to ignore the story as the son is not a public figure

b) to contact the education minister for a comment

c) to contact the son for his version of events

d) to contact the school where he works

e) to ask the police about the status of their investigation

f) to contact campaigners who want the drugs laws relaxed.

Correct answer: e) to ask the police about the status of their investigation.

You cannot make any informed decision until you have tested the quality of the original tip and begun to explore its implications. The police are the right people to ask about the story in the first instance, to try to establish some facts.

Bob EggingtonBob Eggington has been a journalist since 1969. He began in newspapers before joining the BBC where he worked for almost 30 years, including a spell as the head of the BBC's political and parliamentary unit. He was the project director responsible for launching BBC News Online in 1997. Bob currently works as a media strategy consultant in the UK and overseas.

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