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Complainant Name:
Survival International

Clauses Noted: 1

Publication: The Observer

Complaint:

Mr Stephen Corry, Director of Survival International, complained that an article about the release of photographs of an ‘uncontacted’ tribe in a remote area near the border between Brazil and Peru was misleading.

The complainant explained that some individuals had doubted the tribe’s existence and that – due to the threat of logging in the area – an individual at Funai, the Indian Protection Agency of the Brazilian Government, had photographed the tribe and sent the pictures to Survival International to publicise.

However, the article gave the impression – by implying that the representative of Funai had admitted that the tribe had previously been known about but had been concealed – that Survival International (and Funai) had falsely claimed that the people in the photographs had only just been discovered, and that these organisations had deliberately made this claim to generate publicity. As a result, the complainant said that there had been repeated reports of a fraud and a hoax.

Resolution:

The complaint was resolved when the Readers’ Editor devoted his column to the matter. He explained that Survival International had never suggested that the photographs were a product of a random encounter, or that the tribe was unknown. While the article had attempted to suggest that other media had ‘told and sold’ the story incorrectly, the column indicated that a reader could reasonably infer that it was Survival International who had ‘told and sold’ a misleading story. This, combined with the headline suggestion that the newspaper was revealing a ‘secret’, had – the Readers’ Editor explained – led to inaccurate claims that the story was a hoax. The Readers’ Editor acknowledged that the newspaper had failed in its duty not to publish inaccurate misleading or distorted information on this occasion.

Report: 77



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