The public interest test - Question 3
The question is one of four relating to The public interest test training module.
Your reporters return from making enquiries. The son cannot be contacted. He is not at his home or, apparently, at school. His friends are uncooperative. The education minister’s spokesman has said: "This is a private matter and the minister will be making no comment." The school where the son works refuses to discuss the matter. What do you do next?
a) report the facts as known.
b) look for other people who might know what is going on.
c) do nothing – wait for more information to emerge.
d) drop the story.
Correct answer: b) Look for other people who might know what is going on.
Although you have not learned much that is new, you do understand the son is not at home or at his job. This needs to be investigated: for example, is he ill, gone to ground or been suspended? Tell your reporters to seek a formal statement from the education authority and to widen their enquiries, looking into his school and college life.
Bob 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.
This site has been given permission to use and adapt elements of the BBC's Editorial Guidelines in these short editorial ethics modules. They have been updated to reflect changing international, regional and cultural variations.