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Red Pepper Apologises for the Whopper Story of 9th June 2008


Monday, 9th June 2008

 Following the Complaint lodged by the 3rd Deputy Prime Minister & Min. of Information & National Guidance against the Red Pepper story “Minister with the biggest Whopper named”. The Media Council Disciplinary Committee summoned the Red Pepper Editors to appear before the Council pertaining the above story.

The Committee took on the Editors on matters of morality and worthiness of the story. It made it clear that the story was unethical and actually not a story in the journalistic sense as it had no proof of correctness.

The Committee dismissed the Editors’ argument that the story was a caricature arguing that if it was, they would have used cartoons and not have expressly published the minister’s names and pictures.

The committee also dismissed the Editors’ argument that the Red pepper is a tabloid therefore such stories are expected. The Council affirmed that tabloids do not necessarily dabble in fiction but rather tell factual stories as they are.

The Committee further dismissed the argument that the story was for entertainment, arguing that entertainment at whose expense? They asserted that entertainment should not infringe on individuals rights to privacy.

The committee said that it is true there should not be people who the press should categorize as no go area, but that the reporting should be intended to benefit society in one way or another, not to ridicule people unnecessarily.

The Committee pointed out that its main duty is to promote press freedom and ensure that this freedom is not abused, therefore cautioned the red pepper to desist from publishing stories below the ethical standards of journalism.

The Committee reminded the Editors of Red Pepper to make the Media Code of Ethics their first point of reference, if the public is to benefit from their publication and to formulate and work within their ethical policy in order to have direction.

The committee ordered the Red Pepper to publish an apology on the front page in the same boldness where the story appeared. The red Pepper agreed to comply with the order.

 The Red Pepper published an apology that the story was not intended to expose any one of the ministers to any kind of ridicule or written in bad faith or with sinister intent, but for purely entertainment as a form of comic relief.

The Media Council however feels that the story was unfair and ridiculed the ministers and as such Red Pepper would like to take the occasion to say sorry to whoever feels offended by the story.”

The Council reminded all Media Practitioners about the professional, ethical and social responsibility and the need to protect the children, other vulnerable members and indeed the moral fabric of our society.”