Contact with the Mercury
Leaving aside the complaint on the day the 1st article was printed, resulting in it being taken down and replaced by a new article, I have contacted the Mercury as follows:
16th November: I sent a 13-page report to the Mercury editor, Craig Warhurst, pointing out the errors in both the Mercury's 1st and 2nd articles. I included all the attachments I had sent to Kenji Sato. I asked that he "check the above and take some action to restore my reputation." I got no acknowledgement; no reply.
5th December: I sent a 2-page report to the editor, showing where the two Mercury articles had breached the News Limited Code of Conduct (see below). Again, I asked that he take some action to restore my reputation. And again, I got no acknowledgement; no reply.
I am disappointed that you have chosen to ignore my email of 16th November. The attachment detailed the numerous errors in the two Mercury articles published on the 3rd and 4th of October. I asked that you check the information provided and take some action to restore my reputation.
It is reasonable to believe that the 1st article was a deliberate attempt to damage my chances of being elected to the Hobart City Council, given that it was published on the 1st day that election packs were arriving in letterboxes about an issue that was 6 months old; an issue that was seen back then, by the Mercury, as not important.
The articles, I contend, breached the following sections of News Corp Australia's Code of Conduct:
1.0 Accuracy and Reporting
- Publications should take reasonable steps to ensure reports are accurate and not misleading.
Both articles were inaccurate and misleading, particularly the 1st article. My previous email explains this in detail. Given the information provided to Kenji Sato, the Mercury deliberately ignored much of the information provided.
- Publications are free to editorialise, campaign and take stances on issues provided they take reasonable steps to fulfil the requirements of 1.3 and 1.4.
- ... this does not allow us to knowingly publish inaccurate or misleading information and publications should correct significant inaccuracies or misleading material once they have been recognised as detailed in Section 2.0 – Mistakes.
The 2nd article omitted many of the inaccurate and misleading statements in the 1st article. However, it made no reference to the 1st article, so the 1st article was not re-read by readers. And, the 1st article was spread widely across social media platforms, thereby increasing the damage to my reputation and decreasing the chances of my election to HCC.
The 2nd article was more accurate but, also, contained many errors.
- Try always to tell all sides of the story when reporting on disputes …
This was heavily breached, particularly in the 1st article. My previous email gives more detail. Add to that the information provided to Keni Sato, most of which he ignored i.e. the Mercury ignored my side of the story.
1.6 Journalists should rely only on credible sources.
XX is not a credible source. She has a history of harassment and bullying adjoining owners and tenants; also pestering Glenorchy Police with groundless complaints. This was made clear to your reporter, Kenji Sato, on a number of occasions, both verbally and, with documents, by email. Kenji Sato chose to ignore this. Did he contact Glenorchy Police or the Magistrate's Court to check on her past history?
I also explained, verbally and in writing, that I had never bullied or harassed KB, that all the bullying and harassment had been by her, not with me because I don't live there, but with adjoining owner and tenants, who have had numerous issues with her over many years. I explained that I had, knowing her history, avoided contact with her. This was all ignored in the Mercury's attempt, I believe, to damage my reputation and ensure I did not get elected to HCC.
2.1 Subject to legal advice, a correction or other adequate remedial action should be provided promptly if published material is significantly inaccurate.
Yes, you got legal advice from your legal team in Surrey Hills. As a result, the 1st article was removed,and a new article was put in it's place. There was no indication that this was a new article, so those who had read the 1st article would not have read the 2nd article.
The fact that the new 2nd article was written at all means that the 1st article was “significantly inaccurate”, a fact accepted by your legal team.
4.3 The public interest includes … ensuring the public’s right to reliable information and to not be misled …
The information in the 1st article was not reliable and was designed to mislead your readers. This is detailed in my previous email. An article with so many errors cannot be in the public interest.
24.0 Other Obligations
24.1 Do not bring the reputation of News Corp, your colleagues or masthead into disrepute.
This issue is likely to breach this obligation.
Again, I ask that you take some action to restore my reputation.
20th December: I sent an email to the editor, with a copy to a number of Mercury reporters. I included all documentation sent previously to both Kenji Sato and the editor. My email said:
I refer to the following:
- December email to you, noting where the Mercury has, I believe, breached the News Limited 'Code of Conduct' multiple times (see attached);
- November email to you, noting, in detail, the serious errors in the two Mercury reports (see attached); and
- All emails and documentation sent to your reporter, Kenji Sato, and mostly ignored by him (forwarded separately);
The Mercury found me 'guilty' of bullying and harassing an 'elderly lady', when the evidence (provided to the Mercury) clearly shows that I did no such thing. And, you chose not to reply, or even acknowledge, my correspondence.
I now have no alternative but to do my utmost to correct the record myself.
- Code of Conduct: I will lodge a 'Code of Conduct' complaint against the Mercury.
- Press Council: I will lodge a complaint with the Press Council.
- Website: I will prepare a website that will include all of the information that I gave to Kenji Sato and yourself. I will tell the correct story. There is clear evidence that I did not bully or harass KB; evidence that the Mercury chose to ignore.
- Social Media: I will use social media (emails, facebook, etc) extensively to get people to visit my website.
- Flyers: I will distribute flyers, up to 10,000, to get people to visit my website.
- Legal Action: I will investigate the option of legal action for defamation.
Be assured: I did not harass or bully XX and I will do all in my power to undo the damage that the Mercury has done to my reputation.
Again, I have received no reply or acknowlegement. This website is the first step in defending my reputation. The other steps will follow.