Lithuania’s Journalism Ethics
Inspectorate said in a report to parliament this week that media coverage
of a case involving paedofilia and murder had impeded legal proceedings
and caused harm to child victims. The report raises issues that are
very relevant to the current international media storm over clerical
sex abuse. 

Citing an example from the
largest daily newspaper (while noting that none of the country’s media
outlet were without blame), the Inspectorate said attempts to “squeeze
profits out of this eye-catching topic” had led the media to label
people guilty of uproven crimes and to give abundant “indirect information”
that in fact made the identities of victims public. Part of the problem was that
parties to the case had selectively leaked information to the press
in defense of their own interests, the report said. Slow responses and
lack of disclosure by public authorities also fed the media frenzy: 

The longer it took, the
more time the media had to gather information. […] The media has its
sources, and in covering such a high-profile issue does not
spare time or space.

Bryan Bradley writes from Lithuania. 

Michael Cook

Michael Cook is the editor of MercatorNet.