In a world where we constantly see a race towards finding the next big sensational story in the media, it is wise to go back in history and see what we can learn.
To say the Alfie Patten case was a sensation in the UK back in 2009 would be a gross understatement.
Things got so out of control that the media interest in the case was considered overly intrusive by the courts, and reporting restrictions were imposed.
It happened because of media selfishness: continuing to report something that was psychologically draining for the actual parties involved.
Patten and his family could not live like ordinary people, and the kid found it challenging to return to school (where he belonged).
But even court orders didn’t stop the media from revealing the story.
It could be argued that this was partially inadvertent.
It’s hard to take the stuff away from the internet once it’s there.
In the specific case of Alfie Patten, The Mirror took away its story after the court injunctions came into action.
But the keyword-intensive headlines stayed right where they were.
So essentially, the article and its content were no longer there.
But the link that gave away the essence of the story remained.
And Google News was even worse.
It has as many as 91 articles from places worldwide that mentioned what The Mirror had initially reported.
These non-UK sources had the perfect excuse: Google was unaware of the court’s orders.
There is one central lesson to be learned from all this, and even after all these years, that lesson is valid.
And it’s that courts need to be empowered and provided enough resources and expertise to spread the word of court orders as far and wide as possible.
There should be a whole specialized department taking care of court communications.
An official website should be set up that media bigshots in the UK and abroad need to pay attention to.
Only then would court orders finally get the respect they deserve!