Photo and quote misled Echo readers, IPSO rules


A regional daily was hit by the press watchdog after publishing a misleading photograph and quote that sparked “bad feelings” among neighbors.

The Independent Press Standards Organization has upheld a lawsuit against the Essex daily The Echo after ruling in favor of a woman whose photo and quotes from the newspaper were used.

June Carr complained to IPSO about using her image to accompany a story about London Southend Airport forced to pay compensation to owners near its runway.

However, Ms Carr was not among those who received compensation, and IPSO found that the photo, taken with reference to compensation distributed to “nine houses” near the airport in the standfirst, gave the clear impression that she had been one of the recipients.

The watchdog further discovered that The Echo misleadingly portrayed comments she made to her reporter in an interview.

Complaining under Articles 1 (Accuracy) and 2 (Confidentiality) of the Publishers’ Code of Conduct, Ms Carr claimed that the publication of the article aroused “bad feelings” in their region as it was perceived to be a an affront by their neighbors to their collective compensation effort.

She also said The Echo incorrectly reported the quote she gave to the newspaper, denying that she asked for “£ 100,000” at the airport.

Instead, Ms Carr said the reporter asked her how much she thought her house was worth, to which she replied that ‘the same’ in another area she would get £ 100,000 more.

She said the story distorted her position and that it was incorrect to say that she had “demanded” such an amount, or said she would leave if she got it.

The Echo denied that the photo was misleading because neither the text of the story nor the caption for the image indicated that Ms. Carr had received compensation, with the image being used simply to illustrate how well local residents were. affected by the extension.

The newspaper further denied that it incorrectly reported or misrepresented Ms Carr’s comments, claiming that the reporter asked her if she would accept £ 100,000 in compensation from the airport as she believed that amount had been deducted from the value of her property to which she answered “yes”.

The Echo provided a copy of the reporter’s contemporary shorthand notes from the interview with Ms Carr to demonstrate this, along with a transcript of the relevant notes.

The transcript showed that in response to Ms Carr stating that she believed her house had been devalued by £ 100,000, the reporter asked her “do you want the airport to reimburse you for this?” to which she replied “yes”.

Upon receiving Ms Carr’s complaint, The Echo had offered to issue a correction stating that she had not received compensation and clarifying her comment regarding the £ 100,000.

IPSO found that while The Echo said the photograph had been used as a more general illustration of the proximity of local residences to the airport, its inclusion implied a specific connection to the subject of the article: the distribution of The compensation.

As such, the newspaper had been careful not to publish misleading information.

The committee further found that Ms Carr had not ‘asked’ for £ 100,000 at the airport, nor said she would move if she and her husband received that specific amount as compensation.

IPSO added this misleading presentation of its comments regarding the ongoing controversial issues regarding financial compensation and was therefore important.

The complaint was upheld and the full judgment can be read here.

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