Ruling

Resolution Statement 07769-16 Wilkinson v Express.co.uk

    • Date complaint received

      17th November 2016

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Resolution Statement Complaint 07769-16 Wilkinson v Express.co.uk

Summary of Complaint

1. Vince Wilkinson complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that Express.co.uk breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “CLIMATE  CHANGE SHOCK: Ice sheet melt caused by heat from Earth’s core NOT global warming”, published on 4 August 2016.

2. The article reported that the US space agency had obtained temperatures from the base of the Greenland ice sheet for the first time, and had found that it was up to ten degrees warmer at the base than at the surface. It reported that the scientists had said that heat was coming out of the bedrock itself, which was causing the ice sheet’s melting. The sub headline stated that the study had claimed that the ice sheet was being melted “as a result of heat emitted from within the Earth, rather than rising atmospheric temperatures”. 

3. The complainant said that the conditions at the base of the Greenland ice sheet, the subject of the research, had existed throughout the life of the ice sheet. He said that the article inaccurately suggested that the research had found that heat from within the earth was causing recent losses of ice mass in Greenland, rather than global warming. He said that the findings in relation to the base of the ice sheet did not exclude global warming as a cause of ice sheet loss. The complainant raised an additional concern that the article suggested that the research had ascertained the actual temperatures at the base of the ice sheet. In fact, he said the research inferred these temperatures from interpolation and remote sensing.

4. The newspaper said that the article reported the research’s finding that heat from the Earth’s core is an ongoing cause of ice sheet melt. It said that when read in the context of the article as a whole, the headline was not misleading.

Relevant Code Provisions

6. 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.

iv) The Press, while free to editorialise and campaign, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.

Mediated outcome

7. The complaint was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter. 

8. Following IPSO’s intervention, the newspaper offered to amend the headlined to:

“'Ice sheet melt caused by heat from Earth's core not just global warming': NEW REPORT CLAIMS'“

It offered to amend the introduction to the article to:

'The MASSIVE Greenland ice sheet is being melted as a result of heat emitted from the Earth, rather than solely rising atmospheric temperatures, a new NASA study has claimed.'

It offered to publish the following wording at the top of the article:

UPDATE: On the 15 October 2016 this article was amended. The headline originally stated 'CLIMATE CHANGE SHOCK: Ice sheet melt caused by heat from Earth's core NOT global warming' and the first paragraph stated  'The MASSIVE Greenland ice sheet is being melted as a result of heat emitted from the Earth, rather than rising atmospheric temperatures, a new NASA study has claimed'. In fact whilst the report has explored the role that archaic heat from the Earth's core plays on the melting of the Greenland ice sheet the report does not claim to rule out the effects of a warming climate upon the ice sheet

It offered to publish the same wording under the heading “Clarification”, at the bottom of the article.

9. The complainant said that this would resolve the matter to his satisfaction.

10. 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: 08/08/2016
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 21/10/2016