PCC rules that New Statesman offers sufficient remedy to breach of Editors’ Code on blogs about Loui
PCC rules that New Statesman offers sufficient remedy to breach of Editors' Code on blogs about Louise Mensch MP
The Press Complaints Commission has ruled that three blog posts which referred to Louise Mensch MP - published by the New Statesman in 2010 and 2011 breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors' Code of Practice; however, it also considered that the magazine had offered a sufficient form of remedial action to address the complaint.
Ms Mensch said that the blog posts, which addressed the issue of social conservatism in the United States, had misrepresented the views she had expressed in an interview, portraying her misleadingly as a cheerleader for Sarah Palin and the Tea Party. In particular, the posts claimed that Ms Mensch "loves Palin power", "identifies closely with Palin's socially conservative agenda" and that she was a "keen admirer" of Ms Palin.
The magazine argued that it had not misrepresented the complainant's views, which were broadly positive towards Ms Palin. It provided the Commission with a transcript of the interview to support its position. Nonetheless, it was prepared to offer Ms Mensch the opportunity to reply in the form of a blog post on its website. Ms Mensch said she would only accept this were it to be accompanied by a correction.
While the Commission accepted that Ms Mensch had praised Ms Palin in the interview (and noted that the reference to social conservatism had been qualified in the articles by a quote from her), it considered that the complainant's position was "more nuanced than the blog coverage suggested to readers". On balance, the Commission said, "readers may well have been misled by the summary of the complainant's opinions as presented by the blog postings". This represented a breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors' Code which required addressing.
The Commission decided that these concerns would be most proportionately and properly be addressed in the same format as the original material under complaint. This would, in its view, be more appropriate than a correction as the complainant would be able to articulate the full breadth of her perspective on Sarah Palin, the Tea Party and other related matters. The Commission ruled that the most appropriate manner of correcting the record would be through the publication of an opportunity to reply from the complainant in another blog.
Stephen Abell, Director of the PCC, said: "The Commission has begun to build up significant case law in the area of blogs published on newspaper and magazine websites. The nature of blogs is such that a negotiated right of reply is often a proportionate and sensible remedy. In this case, the original blogs were misleading, and it is right that the complainant be given an opportunity to correct the record. This is a good example of the self-regulatory mechanism working in the online environment".
1. To read the adjudication, please click here.
2. The articles were published on 30 September 2010, 2 October 2010 and 7 June 2011. Ms Mensch chose not to complain to the PCC at the time of publication, instead writing an article on the ConservativeHome website. The republication of information in a blogpost in 2011 had prompted her to complain formally.
3. For more information, please contact Jonathan Collett on 07740 896805 or email@example.com
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