A complaint against a newspaper website has been upheld after the press watchdog ruled it inaccurately reported that a dog had bitten a child through a fence post.
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Norwich resident Joanna Dikme complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation over an eveningnews24.co.uk report that she had requested a six-foot fence to be installed around her property.
The website reported that Ms Dikme was pleading with the local council to replace the existing three-foot fence with a taller one due to issues with her dogs.
The article headlined “Norwich woman’s fight for big Boundary Road fence amid abuse” claimed she had told the publication that one of the dogs “even bit a child through the fencing posts”.
Ms Dikme complained to IPSO under Clause 1 of the Editor’s Code which covers accuracy, claiming she had in fact told them that her dog had been bitten by another dog through the fence.
The website denied any breach, but the shorthand and longhand notes of its reporter’s conversation with Ms Dikme contained a discrepancy.
While the shorthand note said the animal had bitten a “child,” the longhand note referred to “children.”
Additionally, the complainant had emailed the publication before the article was published stating her dog had been bitten by another dog but had not referenced her dog biting a child or children.
In its adjudication, IPSO said that where there was a discrepancy between the shorthand notes and the translation, and the email from the complainant contained information which contradicted the notes, the publication should have taken further steps to verify the information, but had not done so.
This was a failure to take care, in breach of Clause 1(i).
As such, on the balance of probabilities, the Code Committee considered the website’s report of the complainant’s comments to be inaccurate.
Because the claim that her dog had bitten a child could potentially lead to a dog being put down, the Committee considered this inaccuracy to be significant and in need of correction.
The complaint was duly upheld, and the website ordered to publish a correction which it has now done.
The full adjudication can be read here.