Why The Local chose to report the Kim Wall case the way we did

The shocking and tragic death of journalist Kim Wall has received intense media coverage, including by The Local. Here's why we chose to cover the story how we did.

Why The Local chose to report the Kim Wall case the way we did
File photo: Jens Dige/Polfoto/Ritzau

When it first appeared in the media on August 11th, the Danish submarine story had the characteristics of a mystery – an eccentric inventor who had got lost in his homemade submarine.

It quickly became clear that this was a far more serious and disturbing incident than initially thought.

Starting with the rescue of Peter Madsen from Køge Bay, then the realization that Swedish journalist Kim Wall was missing, and finally the confirmation of her death and Madsen's implication in it, many missing details gradually emerged in one of the most unpleasant – though still incomplete – crime stories Denmark has seen in recent times.

The Local has, at the time of writing, published 27 articles on the case, with four of our journalists as well as agencies contributing. That is clearly more coverage than we would normally give a one-off crime story. Given the sad and shocking nature of this case, we want to be open about the way we have chosen to report what happened.

Over the last three months, new information on the case has emerged in fragments, often clustered into short spells of a few days as the police investigation progressed.

Two court hearings to extend Peter Madsen's detainment, which were conducted publicly, also contributed to news updates covered by this and many other media outlets.

We have sought to publish new information as and when it emerged, representing confirmed facts without glamourizing or sensationalizing the crime. We have not published anything we consider to be speculative.

The nature of the way information has emerged has meant that we have reported on the case frequently, something a number of readers have commented on in feedback and through social media.

We believe it's important to make sure crimes, criminals and court cases aren't hidden from the public eye – not reporting on them at all is also disrespectful to victims.

With Madsen's trial scheduled to begin in March next year, our future reporting of the story will focus on aspects of the police investigation relevant to the court case, should any emerge between now and the beginning of the trial.

Kim Wall was, by many accounts, an example the profession of journalism can look up to. The Kim Wall Memorial Fund was established after her death by family and friends to honour and highlight her legacy and support the International Women's Media Foundation.

We have tried to make our coverage of her sad loss as professional as we can.


Family and friends celebrate the life of late journalist Kim Wall

Parents and friends of Kim Wall honoured her memory in New York on Friday on what would have been the Swedish journalist's 31st birthday.

Family and friends celebrate the life of late journalist Kim Wall
Journalist Anne Kristine Hermann, who was awarded the first Kim Wall Memorial Fund scholarship, with Kim Wall's parents. Photo: Pontus Höök/TT

Wall's remains were discovered after she vanished while interviewing Danish inventor Peter Madsen aboard his homemade submarine in August 2017.

Madsen is currently on trial in Copenhagen in a macabre case that sent shockwaves worldwide, with charges including premeditated murder, desecration of a corpse and sexual relations other than intercourse.

Wall's parents, Ingrid and Joachim Wall, along with her brother and some hundred friends — many who knew Wall during her time at Columbia University's graduate journalism school — gathered to celebrate the life of the talented freelance journalist, presenting a scholarship of $5,000 to a Danish woman inspired by Wall.

Wall's family, along with the US International Women's Media Foundation, established the annual award in the late journalist's honour.

The grant's first winner, Anne Kristine Hermann, plans to put the funds towards investigating Danish colonialism in Greenland.

“Thank you Kim for being a beacon for generations of journalists to come,” Hermann said.

Wall's mother Ingrid called it “comforting” that the fund already boasted $200,000 in donations, saying “we know the fund will live on for a long, long time.”

“That gives us some kind of help in this misery.”

Wall's parents are expected to return to Copenhagen to attend the trial.

Ingrid Wall, herself a former journalist, said the scholarship aims to help “courageous young women who want to get out in the world and make a difference. That's very important to us because that's what Kim did.”

“She was really out and talking to people,” she said. “When you don't meet people, you miss so much; she wanted to go out in their own environment.”

SEE ALSO: VIDEO: Family and friends pay tribute to Swedish journalist Kim Wall