NRK has broken good press practice in the case of Grue municipality – NRK Innlandet – Local news, TV and radio

NRK has broken good press practice in the case of Grue municipality – NRK Innlandet – Local news, TV and radio
NRK has broken good press practice in the case of Grue municipality – NRK Innlandet – Local news, TV and radio

THE PRESS’S PROFESSIONAL COMMITTEE SAYS:

The complaint relates to NRK’s ​​story of a man who lay dead for several days in a municipal building. Grue municipality was criticized for not having followed him up well enough. The case was published on TV, radio and online, and in the online article NRK wrote that a manager in the municipality had failed to take any further action when the home service could not get hold of the man.

Complainant is Grue municipality. According to complaints, NRK has described a sequence of events that is not true. The details were neither presented to the municipality nor to the manager in question. They should have been given the opportunity for simultaneous countermeasures, and the opportunity to correct incorrect information. NRK has not checked information well enough, the complainant states. According to complaints, one of the journalists has ties that should have been disclosed. The complainant will not specify what kind of ties are involved, but writes that the person in question is “personally connected to the municipality”.

NRK admits that the complainant was not given a good enough opportunity to simultaneously respond. As complainants were not provided with all the necessary information, the information control was not good enough either, admits NRK. At the same time, NRK states that this information was only published in the online version. The media house denies that the journalists have ties. One of the journalists lived in the municipality until she was 15 years old, but today has no connection to the place, writes NRK. NRK points out that it is difficult to assess the municipality’s claim when the complainant does not want to say what kind of bindings are involved.

The Professional Committee of the Press (PFU) emphasizes that journalists must avoid ties that create conflicts of interest, cf. Vær Varsom plakatens (VVP) 2.2, and that the media must be open about underlying conditions that may be relevant to the public’s understanding of the case, cf. VVP 2.3 . However, the PFU cannot assess alleged ties without these being pointed out, and the committee will therefore not take a position on the complainant’s claim on this point.

The PFU notes that the parties agree that the manager in question should have been given a better opportunity to counter accusations. The committee agrees with this assessment. Anyone who is exposed to strong accusations of a factual nature must be given the opportunity to counter these, cf. VVP 4.14, on simultaneous countermeasures. The online article contained objectionable claims about what the manager should and should not have done, and the person concerned should have been presented with these before publication.

PFU determines that the case was of public interest, and that the municipality had to withstand a critical spotlight. When matters worthy of criticism are discussed, it is also absolutely essential that the press checks the information and ensures a sufficient breadth of sources, cf. VVP 3.2. PFU notes that some of the objectionable claims in the online article were made by anonymous sources, and the committee reminds that there are stricter requirements for information control when anonymous sources are used. PFU reacts to the fact that NRK did not check the sources’ claims with the municipality or the mentioned manager, who was exposed to the criticism and was central to checking the information, cf. VVP 3.2.

NRK has breached good press practice in points 3.2 and 4.14 of the Vær Varsom poster.

Oslo, 23 November 2022

Anne Weider Aasen,
Nina Fjeldheim, Ellen Ophaug, Øyvind Kvalnes,
Gunnar Kagge, Ingrid Rosendorf Joys, Tove Lie

The article is in Norwegian

Tags: NRK broken good press practice case Grue municipality NRK Innlandet Local news radio

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