There are lessons for all of us in Jo murder case

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COMMENT: A business community that is simply the best

Like many people I have found myself gripped by news coverage as the Jo Yeates murder investigation unfolds.

It's an appalling tragedy and one which resonates with us all because of the lack of an apparent motive.

It's also a classic murder mystery and there is endless room for debate and speculation about what really happened.

As a reader and viewer of these events, it's got all the ingredients to keep me hooked by grim fascination.

But as a member of the press who has been involved in similar events, it's interesting to see this from an outsider's point of view.

Firstly, there is the consideration about why this particular tragedy has been so high-profile.

The fact that it was the only major breaking story around over Christmas meant news organisations were grateful for a case to help fill bulletins and pages over the quiet festive period.

But some would argue that the nature of the victim – young, pretty, middle class – also has a part to play.

Some cases seem to press all the right buttons to get the nationals buzzing, and others don't. But who's to say one life is worth more than another?

I've also watched as the media has seized on every detail – a pizza, a sock, a suspect – to keep the story going. This – particularly the thirst for information about the suspect – has sometimes reflected badly on the industry.

If the arrested man is innocent, he would have been unfairly vilified by sections of the press that went too far.

Lastly, the reaction of Bristol police to the coverage has been eye-opening. At one point they banned ITV from a press conference after it ran a piece questioning the progress of the investigation.

ITV were later allowed back in – but not before police issued a warning that news organisations that 'hampered their investigation' would get similar treatment.

That's just appalling behaviour by a force that should be concentrating on getting appeals out by any means possible. Criticism and scrutiny is part of their role.

It raises huge questions about the role of the media, police and spin in circumstances like these. We can't get it right all of the time, but there are lessons to be learned on all sides here.