Whoops, take two: The Daily Telegraph removed the photograph of Boston bombing victim James Costello from the photoshopped image, replacing his injured torso with that of a man buttoned up in a brown suit, but keeping Mike Carlton's head and the Yasser Arafat style headdress
Adjudication No. 1614: Third Party Matter 130256/The Daily Telegraph (August 2014)
The Press Council has considered whether its Standards of Practice were breached by material published on The Daily Telegraph's website on 3 February 2014 relating to the death of the actor, Philip Seymour Hoffman. The material was headed “Kids grieve for junkie actor dad” and included a photograph of his children and an assertion about what their response would be to the circumstances in which Mr Hoffman died.
The Council has concluded that the combined impact of the references to the children and their alleged feelings, a photograph of them and the use of the term “junkie”, was highly unfair and offensive, especially as the material was published only a few hours after Mr Hoffman’s death.
The Council also concluded that serious breaches of its Standards of Practice occurred in this case even though the offending aspects were removed from the website within an hour. The Council noted it is entirely foreseeable that, as occurred in this instance, material which has been removed from a website may nevertheless be seen widely before its removal, and remain permanently available from other internet sources
The Council concluded that an erroneous claim in the headline of the article about a revised warming rate was very serious, given the importance of the issue and of the need for accuracy (both of which were emphasised in the editorial that repeated the claim without qualification). It considered that there had been a failure to take appropriately rigorous steps before giving such forceful and prominent credence to the claim. Accordingly, the complaint was upheld on that ground. The Council considered that the gravity of the error, and its repetition without qualification in the editorial, required a correction which was more substantial, and much more prominent, than the very brief “clarification” on page 2. It said the heading should have given a brief indication of the subject matter to help attract the attention of readers of the original article and editorial. Accordingly, the complaint was upheld on those grounds.
The Council welcomed the acknowledgement of error and expressions of regret which the publication eventually made to it. But it said they should have been made very much earlier, and made directly to the publication’s readers in a frank and specific manner. It expressed considerable concern that this approach had not been adopted.