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Weekly censured despite bid to resolve ‘inexperienced’ reporter’s error

NewIPSOAn “inexperienced” reporter’s mistake has prompted the press watchdog to censure a weekly newspaper.

The Independent Press Standards Organisation has partially upheld a complaint against the Barnsley Chronicle after it inaccurately quoted someone as speaking on behalf of Grimethorpe Residents’ Group.

Despite the Chronicle accepting the error and offering to publish a complaint, the group’s chair pursued a complaint against the paper with IPSO.

As a result, the watchdog’s Complaints Committee found the inaccuracy had breached the Editors’ Code of Practice.

Complaining under Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code, GRG chair Raymond Archer said it had been inaccurate for the Chronicle to report that the quoted individual was a member of, and speaking on behalf of, the GRG – a local, non-political resident-led organisation.

Mr Archer noted that the story sat within the context of a forthcoming local election, in which the individual was standing, and which concerned an issue of local importance: tackling anti-social behaviour.

Accepting the error, the Chronicle strongly denied any suggestion of bias and political motivation for the error and said it was an honest mistake by a relatively inexperienced reporter.

Its offer to publish a correction was rejected by Mr Archer.

IPSO found the Chronicle had taken insufficient care not to publish inaccurate information and, in circumstances where the story misrepresented the position of this individual, who was reportedly standing for local election at the time of the story’s publication, this was considered significant.

It foundd the correction was offered sufficiently promptly – once the Chronicle became fully aware of the correct position – and should now be published.

The complaint was partially upheld, and the full adjudication can be read here.