Dishonesty online is being passed off as satire and humour by political parties and activists responsible for fake videos and websites, says Alastair Reid of First Draft News in an article published by journalism.co.uk. That’s his response to a video faked by the Conservative Party and then published on its official Twitter account, falsely showing Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary unable to answer a question on TV. The BBC’s Andrew Neil had to apologise for sharing a manipulated video of an SNP politician during the 2019 general election. Facebook subsequently said it would ban some deepfake political videos – but not all. It’s a hazard for journalists who need to be wary of being taken in, as happened with a fake website for US election contender Joe Biden. It’s also of interest because satire can be used as a defence in a defamation case.
Emily Bell, one of the world’s most highly respected commentators on media, has written a post for the Columbia Journalism Review that draws together strands of important thinking on the dilemmas involved in terrorism fed by social media, and the emerging wisdom on the ethics involved for mainstream media in following it. Messages include: “Do not report facts until they are verified, do not focus on the perpetrator over the victims, do not use sensational language that might glamorize the terrorist.” Read it here (and find many more internationally-focused articles on the media in the same place).
A former MP complained of breach of privacy after The Sun published photographs of him allegedly “nuzzling” his face in a friend’s breasts. The Independent Press Standards Organisation found in favour of the MP on privacy grounds, saying there was no public interest justification. A further complaint on grounds of accuracy was not upheld. Press Gazette’s account of the saga shows the reasoning behind the ruling. Read it here.
An American journalist issued the Daily Telegraph with a writ for libel after it published a lengthy apology for “errors” in her article about Melania Trump. Nina Burleigh’s writ accused the Telegraph Media Group of “capitulating abjectly” to a legal threat from a lawyer known as a “slayer”, and had wrongly turned her into “a poster girl for fake news”.
The writ detailed how the paper apologised – without consulting her – for statements the article did not contain, and for fact-checked and well-sourced material. It gave a detailed breakdown showing how the apology allegedly misquoted the original article.
Read the writ here.
An app warned users going to the Mail Online website that it failed to maintain “basic standards of accuracy and accountability”. Mail Online called for the app’s removal from Microsoft’s Edge browser. Note: we’re not told the basis of claims of inaccuracy; simply that Mail Online didn’t respond to queries from analyists working for the app – hence the reference to accountability? Read more (source: BBC).
Two newspapers were found to have breached the Editors’ Code of Practice after a headline wrongly said a mayor was “forced” to resign. The story was found to be accurate, but the papers said a sub-editor failed to read it properly before writing the headline. Read more
A newspaper failed to contact a woman’s ex-partner when she claimed he had harassed her and was subject to a court order, because it was concerned for her safety. IPSO found against the paper on grounds of accuracy, but not for breach of privacy. Note that the main interest here for journalism students in England and Wales is with the Editor’s Code – Northern Ireland has its own laws. Read more