VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – The Vancouver School Board has passed a motion to ask journalists to follow guidelines on how to report suicides; this comes after the coverage of Amanda Todd’s death.

Media expert George Orr thinks this is unnecessary. He says journalists have been following guidelines for years. But that’s just it: they aren’t rules.

“It’s a case-by-case decision made by newsrooms based on the criteria free and independent journalists bring to the process. My concern is when interest groups tells journalists how to do it and how not to do it, the public is less than fully informed.”

He admits not everyone will be happy to hear the way certain things are reported. In the case of the Amanda Todd story, if journalists tried to avoid offending people, the wide-scale discussion on bullying may not have happened.

“[The journalist's] job is to tell the truth… about what you observe and put into a context in a way people can deal with,” explains the retired journalism instructor.

He says the media’s job is to fully inform people and that might mean offending some in the process. “I think it’s important to listen. But I think once you start acquiescing to the demand of the requirements of interest groups to report things in a certain way, you’re no longer free and independent.”

The school board is writing a letter to BC media associations, asking them to adopt and adhere to guidelines.