After five Irish students died in a Berkeley, California balcony collapse, the New York Times reported that the work-visa program J1 the five were in is “a source of embarrassment for Ireland.” In addition to the five Irish students, an Irish-American student from California died.
Readers were not happy about that characterization, the Irish Times reported. And now, public editor Margaret Sullivan is looking into the matter, she tweeted.
Sincere sympathy to all affected by #Berkeley tragedy. Please know that I am aware of reaction and will look into it today.
— Margaret Sullivan (@Sulliview) June 17, 2015
The June 17 article, “Deaths of Irish Students in Berkeley Balcony Collapse Cast Pall on Program,” stated:
“The work-visa program that allowed for the exchanges has in recent years become not just a source of aspiration, but also a source of embarrassment for Ireland, marked by a series of high-profile episodes involving drunken partying and the wrecking of apartments in places like San Francisco and Santa Barbara.”
The story also claimed Irish students “come by the thousands…to work summer jobs by day and enjoy the often raucous life in a college town at night.”
The article also cited a 2014 column in the Irish Voice about an incident when Irish students with J1 visas destroyed property, and reported on a Facebook page for Irish students and the “work-hard, party-hard lifestyle.”
Irish politician Aodhán Ó Ríordáin wants a retraction and an apology from the New York Times, the Irish Times reported. Ó Ríordáin, the Irish Minister of State, called the New York Times article “completely insensitive and outrageous” as well as “victim blaming.”
“The focus should be on why this balcony collapsed instead of being sucked into all kinds of stereotypes which are offensive when you could consider the depth of feeling in Ireland about this tragedy,” he added.
iMediaEthics has asked Ó Ríordáin for further comment. He also tweeted about the article.
— Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD (@AodhanORiordain) June 17, 2015
@Sulliview It seems to me that a key problem is the irrelevance of the "drunken," "house-wrecking" stuff to what happened, which was tragic.
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— Niall Stanage (@NiallStanage) June 17, 2015
@Sulliview The New York Times today shames America.I hope you really are proud of yourselves!
— Louie Lambert (@louielambert) June 17, 2015
@Sulliview you have NO idea how devastated the Irish are today
— Eileen#JeSuisCharlie (@allovus) June 17, 2015
— Leanne Woodfull (@LeanneWoodfull) June 17, 2015
— Miriam Donohoe (@miriamdonohoe) June 17, 2015