Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Hole in the code? Can member publications of leading UK press standards organization "disappear" stories without consequence? [UPDATED]

2/23/18 UPDATE: In response to my February 20, 2018 e-mail (see below), I received an e-mail from IPSO suggesting that an existing clause in their code may cover "disappeared" articles by member publications. To reflect that, I've changed my original headline to a question.

When IPSO issues a decision on my inquiry about the scrubbed Daily Mail article, I'll report the results.

My original item is below the hash marks.


Via What is IPSO?, posted on the organization's website:
The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) is the independent regulator for the newspaper and magazine industry in the UK. We hold newspapers and magazines to account for their actions, protect individual rights, uphold high standards of journalism and help to maintain freedom of expression for the press.
In the course of reporting a story, I stumbled upon what appears to be a significant hole in the organization's code. Per this e-mail, I've asked ISPO to fill that hole.

From: "Peter M. Heimlich" <peter.heimlich@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: Independent Press Standards Organisation - Our reference [IPSO: #01033-18#]
To: Mel Huggett <mel.huggett@ipso.co.uk>
Cc: Lauren Hay <Lauren.Hay@ipso.co.uk>, Vikki Julian <vikki.julian@ipso.co.uk>
Date: Tue, 20 Feb 2018 10:29:45 -0500

Mel Huggett
Independent Press Standards Organization (IPSO)

Dear Mel,

Thanks for your 15 February e-mail re: my 1 February complaint about the Daily Mail. Based on your e-mail, my understanding is that IPSO's code permits member publications to "disappear" articles without consequence. In my opinion, that's a disservice to the public, so I'm taking this opportunity to request that your organization improve that policy.

To review, on 2 January the Mail published an article by staff reporter Alex Matthews, Ed Byrne saved my life! Irish comedian jumped down from the stage and performed the HEIMLICH manoeuvre on fan, 29, who was choking on an M&M in his gig. Per my blog, the next day the London Evening Standard published a similar article by staff reporter Martin Coulter.

Per my blog and the following four publications that picked up my story and added new reporting, after it was revealed that both reporters had been punk'd by a source who made up the tale ("Morgan Wilson"), on 3 January both articles were scrubbed from the papers' websites without providing any information to readers.

Mail Online and Evening Standard pull 'completely untrue' stories about Ed Byrne saving audience member's life with Heimlich manoeuvre by John Reynolds, Press Gazette, 4 Jan. 2018

Life-saving Byrne is a choke at media’s expense
by John Burns, Sunday Times of Ireland, 7 Jan. 2018

Comedian didn’t save choking fan, 2 UK sites delete stories by Sydney Smith, IMediaEthics, 10 Jan. 2018

Not choking fan by Carol Off, As It Happens, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 10 Jan. 2018

Last month I sent e-mails to the editorial powers-that-be at the Mail (an IPSO member) and the London Evening Standard (not an IPSO member) asking what happened to the disappeared articles and if/how their publications intended to address the matter. Via my 17 January e-mail to Evening Standard editor George Osborne:
(This) seems like an interesting opportunity to compare the responses to the same situation by an IPSO and a non-IPSO publication.
Two days later, Mr. Osborne's paper published Ed Byrne: M&M hero claim ‘completely untrue’, a thorough re-write by Mr. Coulter at the same URL as his original article in which readers were informed that he got punk'd by "Morgan Wilson."

As you know, I didn't receive a reply from the Mail, hence my complaint to your organization. That resulted in your 15 February e-mail in which you stated:
The (IPSO) Code does not have a Clause that relates to the removal of articles.
In my opinion that's a big hole in the code. In the interests of plugging that hole, would you and/or your colleagues please forward this e-mail to the appropriate decision-makers at your organization and let me know the response?

Big thanks for your continued time/attention and I look forward to your reply.

Cheers, Peter

Peter M. Heimlich
Peachtree Corners, Georgia 30096 USA
ph: (208)474-7283
website: http://medfraud.info
blog: http://the-sidebar.com
e-mail: peter.heimlich@gmail.com