The ten most read stories of 2016 on iMediaEthics, determined by unique page views, are as follows, in reverse order.
The Mail on Sunday reported that a DNA test finally revealed the true identity of Victorian-era serial killer Jack the Ripper. But, the Mail had to publish a correction to the story in January after a complaint to UK press regulator the Independent Press Standards Organisation. Read Who was Jack the Ripper? UK Mail on Sunday Corrects after Saying Serial Murderer was IDed ‘Beyond Reasonable Doubt’
9. Sun Slams Shannen Doherty’s Appearances, Deletes
Shannen Doherty, the actress best-known for her role as Brenda in the original Beverly Hills, 90210, has been fighting cancer for more than a year. In June, the UK Sun published a mean-spirited article criticizing her appearance, but deleted the article after it was slammed for poor taste. Read UK Sun Deletes ‘Unkempt’ Shannen Doherty Article, Actress is Fighting Breast Cancer
8. Bigamy in Eritrea?
In January, iMediaEthics reported on a satire story claiming that a new Eritrean law required men to marry two women. The story made it into the mainstream media but Eritrea’s Ministry of Information confirmed to iMediaEthics that the story was fake and the country’s “Panel Code does not permit polygamy.” Read Eritrea Doesn’t Make Men have 2 Wives, Satire Story Duped African Media
7. Sun Tries to Ditch PJS Injunction
A high-profile injunction in the UK filed by a celebrity couple referred to as PJS and YMA garnered significant media attention, especially in the month of April as the celebrities and the media battled it out in court. The Sun on Sunday wanted to report allegations that PJS had an affair and an extramarital threesome, but PJS obtained an injunction preventing media in England and Wales from reporting their identities. This story reported on one of the Sun’s attempts to get the injunction dropped. Read Will England Find Out Which Celebrity is Accused of Threesome? UK Sun Bids to Get Celebrity Injunction Dropped
6. Guardian deletes 13 articles after serial fabrication
In May, the Guardian hit delete on thirteen articles written by freelance reporter Joseph Mayton after the newspaper found fabrication in his work. Specifically, the Guardian revealed that sources in his articles said they never were interviewed by Mayton. Read Guardian Unpublishes 13 Articles by Joseph Mayton for Fabrication
5. Secret editing at New York Times upsets readers
In September, the New York Times replaced an article about Matt Lauer’s widely-criticized forum interviews of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump with another article, by an entirely different reporter, without disclosure. Read Why Did NYTimes Replace Clinton Trump Forum Article without Disclosure?
4. Celebrity injunction lifted
This story reported on the UK Court of Appeals lifting the injunction that would allow the media to name the two married celebrities (see Item # 7, above). However, before it was officially lifted, the celebrities were given a short period of time to appeal to the Supreme Court (which, spoiler alert, they successfully did and kept their privacy). All in all, the court battle lasted about a year, and the Sun never ended up getting to identify the celebrities involved. Instead, the Sun to remove some stories and pay damages and costs to the celebrities. Read Celebrity Injunction Lifted: When Will PJS & YMA Be Identified?
3. Fake Pit Bull Story gets Killed
A story on Examiner.com told the sad, heartrending tale of two sibling pit bulls headed for death at a New York City shelter. Problem is, the dogs weren’t at death’s door, something the reporter would have known had she contacted anyone for comment or fact checking before posting her story. Coincidentally, iMediaEthics’ publisher had adopted one of the dogs. When iMediaEthics contacted the Examiner reporter to let her know about the errors and the true story, she lashed out, posted personal contact information for iMediaEthics’ intern on the website, cursed at a lawyer, and ultimately was fired from Examiner and all of her stories were deleted from the Examiner’s website. Read Examiner.com Kills Fake Story about 2 Pit Bulls in NYC Shelter, Unpublishes Reporter’s Entire Archive
2. Reporting on Suicide Gone Wrong
iMediaEthics took a close look at a Pennsylvania newspaper’s reporting on a local man’s death by suicide and criticized the paper, the Sharon Herald, for its insensitive reporting on the the death of Joseph Koscinski. iMediaEthics heard from Koscinski’s mother, who eloquently explained how hurtful insensitive media coverage can be, and discussed best practices with experts in the field. Read How Not to Report on Suicide: Sharon Herald Story Crossed the Line
1. British Celebrity Couple gets Injunction to keep Affair Claims Private
And our most trafficked story: This April story reported on the news of the PJS-YMA injunction mentioned earlier. Read What British Celebrity is accused of Extramarital Threesome? Media in England & Wales Can’t Name Because of Injunction