Resolution statement 01392-17 Holter v The Times
Summary of complaint
1. Nikki Holter, on behalf of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that The Times breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Rower’s death in Atlantic brings call for safety code,” published on 4 February 2017.
2. The article reported that the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) had called for rules governing ocean rowing to be drawn up following the drowning of a young British crewman, and other incidents involving amateur rowers crossing the Atlantic. The article was accompanied by a photograph of a victorious crew and boat who participated in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge race. The caption on the photograph read: “Latitude 35 won an Atlantic race last month but other teams have met disaster”.
3. The complainant said that the photograph gave the impression that the race run by the company she worked for had issues in relation to safety. She said that while the article focused on issues with British organised events, the company’s race is Spanish run and organised, and governed by the Spanish authorities. She said that there was a strict safety code in place, and that the race had not encountered the same type of problems encountered by British ocean rowing companies.
4. The newspaper did not consider that the use of the photograph was significantly misleading given that the caption underneath specifically drew a contrast between Latitude 35’s success and problems met by other crews.
Relevant Code Provisions
5. Clause 1 (Accuracy)
i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information or images, including headlines not supported by the text.
ii) A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and — where appropriate — an apology published. In cases involving IPSO, due prominence should be as required by the regulator.
iii) A fair opportunity to reply to significant inaccuracies should be given, when reasonably called for.
6. The complaint was not resolved through correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter.
7. Having been made aware of the precise problem with the photograph, the publication agreed to print the following clarification in its corrections and clarifications column:
Our report on a call by the UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch for a safety code to protect amateur transatlantic rowers (News, Feb 4) was illustrated with a photograph of the Latitude 35 team, a crew of British and American rowers who had recently made headlines by winning a transatlantic race. As the accompanying caption explained, the expressed safety concerns did not relate to Latitude 35, or to the race it had won. In fact the race in question, the Talisker Atlantic Challenge, is owned and organised by a Spanish company and subject to a safety code enforced by Spanish authorities. We are happy to make this clear and apologise for any confusion or embarrassment caused.
8. The complainant said the publication of this clarification resolved the matter to her satisfaction.
9. As the complaint was successfully mediated, the Complaints Committee did not make a determination as to whether there had been any breach of the Code.
Date complaint received: 15/02/2017
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 12/04/2017
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