The reports in question claimed that Respublika and two other publications in Norway are “allegedly corrupt.” The claims were based on 2007 U.S. diplomatic cables published in WikiLeaks leak of a cache of U.S. cables. We wrote in August about the claims, noting that Respublika and Lietuvos Rytas denied the claims of “unethical and illegal practices” in their newspapers. The cables reported claims that the two newspapers will exchange positive coverage for bribes.
Respublika‘s owner, Vitas Tomkus, rejected Aftenposten‘s report at the time, called it libel, and criticized Aftenposten for not asking for comment before publication.
Likewise, in this recent ethics ruling, the committee concluded that Aftenposten “should have been more cautious in fulfilling the provisions in the Code of Ethics requiring media to be critical of their sources,” according to Baltic-Course.
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Given the claims’ origins in a leaked cable from WikiLeaks, the committee said, “In such a situation it is an ethical requirement that documents be submitted to a particularly critical evaluation before they are published. In line with this, the right to simultaneous refutation of reputation damaging allegations is of particular relevance,” according to Baltic-Course.
See here the code of ethics for Norway’s “printed press, radio, television and online publications.”
According to the Norway Press Complaints Commission’s website, complaints can be filed in print or online by any member of the public about the media.
The commission notes that “all proceedings” through the commission are public. “Seven permanent members” of the commission, “four representing the press, and three public,” review complaints, according to its website.
We have written to the commission, Aftenposten and Respublika for more information and will update with any response.