Reblogged from The Quilty Reader:
Just wondering - do you think that The Guardian violated their own code of ethics with the Kathleen Hale piece?
Find it here.
Pay special attention to the following:
Fairness: The voice of opponents no less than of friends has a right to be heard . . . It is well be to be frank; it is even better to be fair” (CP Scott, 1921). The more serious the criticism or allegations we are reporting the greater the obligation to allow the subject the opportunity to respond."
There is no evidence that they gave Blythe the opportunity to respond. People raised this in the comments and The Guardian hasn't answered.
"Privacy In keeping with both the PCC Code and the Human Rights Act we believe in respecting people’s privacy. We should avoid intrusions into people’s privacy unless there is a clear public interest in doing so. Caution should be exercised about reporting and publishing identifying details, such as street names and numbers, that may enable others to intrude on the privacy or safety of people who have become the subject of media coverage."
They included significant details about Blythe that related to the make of her car, the county of her residence, the location of her vacations and the breed of her dog. Those details were unnecessary to tell the story. The detail that "Blythe Harris" was the blogger was unnecessary to the story. That is not respecting her privacy, which cannot at this point be restored to her.
"Subterfuge Journalists should generally identify themselves as Guardian employees when working on a story. There may be instances involving stories of exceptional public interest where this does not apply, but this needs the approval of a head of department."
This obviously didn't happen, since Kathleen Hale used her connections to get Blythe's address as an author, not as a Guardian freelancer. In addition, the article doesn't indicate that she disclosed an affiliation with The Guardian when she "fact-checked" Blythe.
"Conflicts of interest Guardian staff journalists should be sensitive to the possibility that activities outside work (including holding office or being otherwise actively involved in organisations, companies or political parties) could be perceived as having a bearing on — or as coming into conflict with — the integrity of our journalism. Staff should be transparent about any outside personal, philosophical or financial interests that
might conflict with their professional performance of duties at the Guardian, or could be perceived to do so.
Declarations of interest
1. It is always necessary to declare an interest when the journalist is writing about something with which he or she has a significant connection. This applies to both staff journalists and freelances writing for the Guardian. The declaration should be to a head of department or editor during preparation. Full transparency may mean that the declaration should appear in the paper or website as well.
2. A connection does not have to be a formal one before it is necessary to declare it. Acting in an advisory capacity in the preparation of a report for an organisation, for example, would require a declaration every time the journalist wrote an article referring to it.
3. Some connections are obvious and represent the reason why the writer has been asked to contribute to the paper. These should always be stated at the end of the writer’s contribution even if he or she contributes regularly, so long as the writer is writing about his or her area of interest.
4. Generally speaking a journalist should not write about or quote a relative or partner in a piece, even if the relative or partner is an expert in the field in question. If, for any reason, an exception is made to this rule, the connection should be made clear.
5. Commissioning editors should ensure that freelances asked to write for the Guardian are aware of these rules and make any necessary declaration."
Hale's fiance writes for The Guardian. Was this a conflict of interest that should have been disclosed. Because it wasn't.
In my opinion none of these aspects of the code were complied with when The Guardian published this piece.