3688/2018 - A Woman and Independent.ie
The Press Ombudsman had upheld a complaint by a woman that Independent.ie breached Principle 1 (Truth and Accuracy) of the Code of Practice of the Press Council of Ireland.
On 7 June 2018 Independent.ie in its Business section published an article on a proposed sale of a number of wind farms. Included in the article was the following “One megawatt of wind energy is estimated to be enough to power around 600 homes, according to the Wind Energy Association, meaning the two portfolios between them would be able to power almost 100,000 homes”
A Woman complained that the claim about wind energy was “simply not true” as wind energy is variable and therefore other sources of energy are required to maintain consistent electricity supply. She claimed that the reference to the number of homes supplied by wind energy in the article should have referred to dispatchable energy which is different to variable energy. She claimed that Principle 1 of the Code of Practice had been breached.
Independent.ie responded stating that it did not accept that Principle 1 had been breached. Nonetheless it offered to publish a letter from the complainant in which she could “set out her views”.
The complainant did not accept this offer from Independent.ie as she felt an offer to set out her views without any admission of inaccuracy on the part of Independent.ie was not sufficient to correct the inaccuracy. She requested that her complaint go to the Press Ombudsman. As the complaint could not be resolved by conciliation it was forwarded for a decision.
Principle 1.2 of the Code of Practice states When a significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distorted report or picture has been published, it shall be corrected promptly and with due prominence.
In this instance the report failed to make clear that the supply of energy from a wind farm is not consistent and therefore the reference to supplying energy to a specific number of homes needed to be qualified by acknowledging the variable nature of wind energy. When this fact was drawn to the attention of Independent.ie an offer to publish a letter from the complainant was made. However, under Principle 1.2 the publication is obliged to correct a misleading statement, the offer to publish a letter was not a sufficient response to the complaint. The complaint is therefore upheld.
17 August 2018
The publication appealed the Press Ombudsman’s decision on the grounds that there had been an error in the Press Ombudsman’s application of the Code of Practice.
Click here to see the Decision of the Press Council of Ireland