December 17, 2014

Toronto Star | CBC

On Wednesday, a directive from the Justice/Public Service Commission of Nova Scotia clarified “the use of Rehtaeh Parsons’s name under the existing publication ban.”

The directive, issued to the Public Prosecution Service, says no breach of the ban identifying Rehtaeh Parsons as the victim in the recent high-profile child pornography case, by media, or in any forum, will be prosecuted, unless her name is used in a derogatory way.

Katherine DeClerq reported on the directive for The Toronto Star.

On Nov. 24, the Halifax Chronicle Herald broke the ban in a story about the second young man associated with the case pleading guilty to distributing child pornography.

“We’ve decided to publish the name of the victim in this story, despite a court-ordered ban. We believe it’s in the public interest in this unique case, given the widespread recognition of (the victim’s) name, and given the good that can come, and has already come, from free public debate over sexual consent and the other elements of her story,” read the editor’s note attached to the article.

CBC News reports that what would be seen as using Parsons’ name “in a derogatory way” isn’t quite clear.

A coalition of media organizations, including CBC, appealed the ban last spring, but Judge Jamie Campbell upheld it, saying he had no other option under the law. However, he said it “served no purpose” in this case, and in his written decision, he noted that Nova Scotia public prosecutors could decide not to prosecute breaches.

On Oct. 24, Ryan Van Horne wrote about the ban for Poynter.

Rehtaeh Parsons died last year, and last month a young man pleaded guilty to taking a photograph that led to her being bullied and tormented. But Nova Scotia media could only refer to the plea as being in conjunction with a “high-profile child pornography case.”

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Kristen Hare teaches local journalists the critical skills they need to serve and cover their communities as Poynter's local news faculty member. Before joining faculty…
Kristen Hare

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