Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Duchess, privacy, & those photos: updated

I have an update to my post about the behavior of the Irish Star. The Irish Press Ombudsman emailed me back before 10 am today (fair play to them on that score). What they had to say was this:

Thank you for your communication about the Irish Daily Star.

I attach for your information a press release which the Press Ombudsman issued on the matter yesterday, Monday l7th.

It is essential that any complaint about this particular matter be made by the subject of the photograph, with her authorization, or with her permission. I can again assure you that any complaint lodged by or on behalf of the Duchess of Cambridge will be immediately considered by this Office.

Yours sincerely

The contents of the press release are as follows:

Press Release: Immediate

Statement by the Press Ombudsman, Professor John Horgan
17 September 2012

I have had a number of queries about the publication in the Irish Daily Star of photographs of the Duchess of Cambridge.

As the Irish Daily Star is a member publication of the Press Council of Ireland, any complaint lodged by, on behalf of, or with the permission of the Duchess of Cambridge will be fully considered by this Office.

No such complaints have been received.

PH:  (01) 6489130

Given the somewhat formulaic response I received, I suspect I am not the only one who was unaware how restrictive are the regulations as to who may make a complaint to the Ombudsman about what the press chooses to publish! My reply to the Ombudsman's office was as follows:

Thank you for your swift response. I was aware of the press release, by way of the Irish Times mentioning yesterday in their online editions that no complaint had been received; hence my making one. Might I say that I find it interesting that the parameters are so limited as to whom the Press Ombudsman will accept a complaint from? The newspaper has justified its decision to publish on the grounds that it acted in the public interest; why therefore should any member of the public not be in a position to make a complaint once the offending item is in the public domain? When it comes to advertising, any member of the public who finds an item offensive is entitled to complain; I find it odd that a different standard should apply to the press. It might be something to be considered in the future, if for no other reason than to make the Ombudsman aware of the level of offense a particular article has caused. It should also be borne in mind that in this instance the actions of the Irish Star has, in my opinion at least, were such as to damage to the reputation to the people of Ireland as a whole. I find it unsatisfactory that there is no formal means for others or myself to lodge a complaint with the Ombudsman in this situation.

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