Buzzfeed Go to Court to Demand Journalist Reveals Communications With Sources

Buzzfeed has gone to court in the US to attempt to force the editor of British media trade website Press Gazette to reveal his journalistic sources. A motion filed by Buzzfeed in a New York court seeks to compel Press Gazette’s editor, Dominic Ponsford, to provide material in relation to this article he published in April 2015, a report about a Buzzfeed investigation doing in one of its rivals. Buzzfeed’s court application seeks to force Ponsford to reveal:

  • The research and production of the the 24 April Press Gazette report
  • Communications prior and post publication of the article between Press Gazette and the alleged source

Ponsford says:

“Why is Buzzfeed interested in my emails and any other documents I may hold? As a journalistic organisation does it not understand the dangerous ethical territory it is entering here?”

Remarkable behaviour for a news organisation employing journalists. What are Buzzfeed thinking?

IPSO: Peter Jukes Claims Breached Accuracy Rules

Press regulator IPSO has slammed claims made by Peter Jukes, Twitter’s self-appointed upholder of press accuracy, finding they breached Clause 1 of the Code of Practice: Accuracy. An extract from his book “Beyond Contempt” published in the Press Gazette alleged that in June 2014, journalist Dennis Rice had “threatened to investigate” Jukes over a donation from Hacked Off. Jukes claimed Rice tweeted: “I’m now going to blog about [Jukes] & his family”. In fact, Rice’s tweet had been sent on 31 January 2014, six months earlier, in response to comments posted by Jukes which had referred to the Rice’s family. As today’s IPSO statement says“The article therefore contained the misleading impression that the complainant had mounted an unprovoked attack on the journalist and his family.”

IPSO’s findings are highly critical:

  • additional steps should have been taken to ensure the accuracy of the claim
  • the journalist [Jukes] was relying on second-hand information from a highly flexible medium in which misunderstandings can occur
  • the complainant should have been contacted to check the claims, or other steps should have been taken to verify the nature and timing of the tweet
  • The failure to do so breached Clause 1 (i) [The press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information]

Press Gazette has now apologised for publishing the Jukes extract. Rice tells MediaGuido in a statement:

“This is a judgement which underlines the importance of journalists checking facts – even ones who are sponsored by Hacked Off. Peter Jukes deserves credit for his crowd funding initiative, but no credit for his inability to check the date of a simple tweet.”

Jukes says:

“the letter from IPSO I have says it specifically doesn’t refer to my journalism by PG editorial process [sic]”

Perhaps it is worth re-reading this tweet of his from last June:

Indeed.



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