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Article wrecked by editing, journalist complains to CMM

The Council for Mass Media takes up a complaint on a paper’s editing of an article submitted by a freelance journalist.

The complaint filed with the CMM centres on alleged sloppy editing by a paper of a freelance article written for it. The freelance journalist who filed the complaint alleges that article was rewritten by the paper and contained three factual errors, one of which was to include the journalist’s name as the author of the piece.

“I did not write the article that was published in the paper,” the journalist states in the written submission to the CMM.

The paper printed corrections to the article at the request of the journalist, but fewer than were in the published article. The mistake of including the journalist’s name as the author of the article was not included among the corrections.

The journalist has complained of being subject to negative publicity and had wanted to write a reply to the paper, but the paper’s chief editor refused to publish it.

Many journalists find that their articles are carelessly edited, but it is unusual for the CMM to receive complaints about such matters. CMM general secretary Ilkka Vänttinen recalls just one instance.

“The CMM didn’t handle the complaint at that time because it felt that the issue was an internal editorial matter. But this case has a broader significance.”

The complaint relates to five clauses in the Guidelines for Journalists, among them stipulations on the checking of facts, the scope for corrections and right of reply. The CMM will announce its ruling on the case next spring.