The Scunthorpe Telegraph has defended itself after being singled out for criticism over its coverage of the case of a child who was shaken to death.
North Lincolnshire Council accused the newspaper of ‘scandalous’ reporting after it asked questions about the involvement of social services in the case.
On January 21 the Telegraph published the council’s response to its questions in full under the headline ‘What went wrong?’.
That sparked fury from the council, which retaliated with a statement on its website claiming the coverage was unbalanced and inaccurate.
Telegraph editor Jon Grubb immediately asked for the statement and picture to be removed from the website, but this was refused, as were requests for the council to explain the basis of their accusations and for a right to reply to the statement.
Now, in attempt to let readers make up their own minds, the Telegraph has published a story explaining its dispute with the council, together with statements from both parties.
Editor Jon said: “If you pick up the Telegraph any day of the week you’d be hard pressed not to see the council defending a decision or replying to a criticism.
“The bottom line is that the council has used a website, paid for with tax payers’ money, to launch a vitriolic attack on the paper – but refuses to justify it and refuses to give a right of reply.
“If the Telegraph employed this policy, the council would be outraged.
“The council should also work harder to read our statement properly. We did not suggest social services did not regret the death of Jasmine. We simply said the council did not issue a statement to the public expressing regret. It hasn’t.
“What it has spent time and money doing is rubbishing responsible journalism because it’s uncomfortable reading.
“The final outrage is the allegation the newspaper has in some way damaged the safety of children. This is plainly ridiculous. Jasmine died long before the newspaper got involved and it seems perfectly reasonable to ask searching questions about how this death occurred.”
But the council argued in its statement: “North Lincolnshire Council has co-operated fully with the Telegraph. It has answered every question put to it in an open and honest way.
“But the coverage in general, and the grossly unfair comments in ‘opinion column’ in Tuesday and Wednesday’s papers (January 20 and 21) makes it clear that whatever answers we provide will not be given fair and balanced treatment. The remarks in the opinion column are nothing short of scandalous.
“The council has a right to expect the paper to maintain high standards of accuracy and balance in its coverage. In this case this has not been evident.”
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