Reporters take pictures inside the home of shooting suspect Syed Farook on Dec. 4, 2015 in Redlands, Calif. (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)Days after John Nuttall and Amanda Korody planted what they thought were bombs at the Victoria Legislature grounds in July 2013, reporters combed their dishevelled home in Surrey, B.C., looking for clues into their lives. "It's fundamentally problematic," said Josh Paterson of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association. "However sure the media or the public may be that someone has done something, there's nothing that says that media can just go through their houses and rifle through their belongings."
Paterson said while he can't speak to U.S. law, the media tours of the B.C. suspects' home violated tenancy and privacy laws. Their landlords didn't have the authority to allow a steady stream of journalists inside the two-bedroom basement suite, he said. "Unless these reporters were plumbers to fix a flood in the apartment, a landlord has no right to admit them." Images of posters and books featuring Arabic writing, and prescription methadone bottles belonging to Korody were broadcast around the country. A Canadian Press reporter went inside and saw another journalist rifling through a box of photos and a camera operator arranging pictures before filming them.
"Unless these reporters were plumbers to fix a flood in the apartment, a landlord has no right to admit them."
But in either situation, the media is constructing a narrative about the suspects based on their apparent lifestyle, he said. "Putting all this information out there of someone who's been charged with something can certainly frame the public's perception of whether this person is guilty or not," Waddell said. "The media shouldn't be doing that and our system shouldn't be convicting people on the basis of their character. They're convicted of offences on the basis of what they actually did, not of who they are."
"However sure the media or the public may be that someone has done something, there's nothing that says that media can just go through their houses and rifle through their belongings."
14 people killed in act of terrorismMalik and Farook died in a fierce gunbattle with authorities hours after their assault on a gathering of Farook's colleagues from San Bernardino County's health department. The FBI said it is investigating the mass shooting, which left 14 dead, as an act of terrorism. Several major U.S. outlets broadcast from inside the suspects' home on Friday. A CNN reporter picked up prayer beads and books to show to the camera. Other stations showed children's toys in front of a broken window boarded-up with plywood. MSNBC broadcast an up-close look at a drivers license belonging to Rafia Farook, believed to be Farook's mother. Rafia Farook's photo, address and other personal details were all clearly visible.
Reporters inspect the home of shooting suspect Syed Farook on Dec. 4 in Redlands, Calif. (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)The shot could be seen as violating a reporter's duty of care, said Alfred Hermida, director of the University of British Columbia's school of journalism. "I think it's very hard to make an argument that there is a public interest there, because (Rafia Farook) is not the suspect in this case," he said. Backlash against the images of media inside the shooters' home was swift, with people tweeting their disdain. It's a far cry from the days when people would simply change the channel or vow to not buy the paper again, Hermida said. But the outrage may not stop media outlets from entering suspects' homes in the future, he added, because the stories get a lot of attention. "There's a potential risk there," Hermida said. "But at the same time, if you're seeking publicity or notoriety, maybe that's something that you're willing to do." — Follow @ellekane and @gkarstenssmith on Twitter.
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