4 UK news outlets correct after stories on British woman shot in Rio de Janeiro - iMediaEthics
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Rio de Janeiro (Credit: Wikipedia/Rafael Defavari)

Last year, a British woman was shot and wounded when she was traveling with her family in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Several UK news outlets reported on the the incident. But some of those news reports — like that of the Daily Star, Daily Express, Daily Mirror, and Birmingham Mail — were inaccurate.

The news outlets reported that the family was shot at because they were trying to buy water and then asked for directions; the woman complained that in fact their car’s navigation system sent them to the wrong place and she never spoke with anyone.

The woman, Eloise Dixon, complained to the UK press regulator the Independent Press Standards Organisation over the errors, also alleging the stories were an invasion of privacy, harassment, and an intrusion into grief or shock.

Dixon said the four outlets harassed her family, pulled photos from her Facebook page, and wrongly reported her family ended up in a bad neighborhood because they were looking for water. All four newspapers defended their reporting as based on the police’s account of events, and said the photos it used were taken from a public Facebook page. In addition, all four denied even trying to contact the woman’s family, noting they had no reporters in Brazil.

While the four newspapers all denied the complaints, they all did offer to publish corrections about the factual errors Dixon flagged. By doing so, Dixon was satisfied and dropped her complaint, so IPSO didn’t rule on the matter.

The Star offered to publish a correction reading:

“An earlier version of this article reported that the family were shot at whist looking for a place to buy water. It said that they had been directed to a crime ridden slum due to a language mix up. The article further reported that the family had been asked to leave but did not understand what was being said to them. The earlier version was based on the local police’s version of events at the time. Mrs Dixon has now confirmed that this version was not correct as the family always travel with water in the car in a hot country and that it was the satellite navigation system in their hire car that directed them wrongly. She said that they did not speak to anyone.”

The Express published this correction:

“An earlier version of this article reported that the family were shot at whist looking for a place to buy water. It said that they had been directed to a crime ridden slum due to a language mix up. The article further reported that the family had been asked to leave but did not understand what was being said to them. The earlier version was based on the local police’s version of events at the time. Mrs Dixon has now confirmed that this version was not correct as the family always travel with water in the car in a hot country and that it was the satellite navigation system in their hire car that directed them wrongly. She said that they did not speak to anyone.”

The Mirror published this correction:

“A previous version of this article was based on information provided by the Police and official statements at the time. We have since been notified that Ms Dixon and her family were not looking for water and did not ask for directions, but that the car’s navigation system directed them the wrong way.”

The Birmingham Mail published this correction:

“A previous version of this article was based on information provided by the Police and official statements at the time. We have since been notified that Ms Dixon and her family were not looking for water and did not ask for directions, but that the car’s navigation system directed them the wrong way. We would also like to clarify that at no time did the gunmen speak to Ms Dixon or her family.”

In an e-mail to iMediaEthics, The Birmingham Mail declined to comment beyond the ruling.

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4 UK news outlets correct after stories on British woman shot in Rio de Janeiro

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