Irish College Won't Sell Irish Daily Mail in Campus Stores after Fake Story about Missing Teen

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The Irish Daily Mail apologized after wrongly reporting that a missing student's body had been found. The student's body was found two days after the fake story. (Credit: University Times, screenshot)

Dublin, Ireland university Trinity College Dublin banned the sale of the Irish Daily Mail and its sister publication the Irish Mail on Sunday in its stores on campus because the newspaper published fake news  about a University College Cork student according to Irish news site Irish

Irish Central explained that the Irish Daily Mail “is largely viewed as a barely localized counterpart of its UK version.”

Irish news site The Journal reported that the ban was decided during a Dec. 6 meeting of the campus’ student union.  Other college campuses, including Mulrooney’s own campus at University College Cork, may start similar petitions, according to the Irish Central report on the ban, by columnist Daniel O’Carroll.

The student, Caolan Mulrooney, had been missing since Dec. 2. The Dec. 4 story — that Mulrooney’s body had been found — was “deliberately invented,” according to Irish Central because Mulrooney’s body hadn’t been found.  According to the Irish Times, his body was found Dec. 6 in Cork, Ireland and police said “they don’t believe the death is suspicious.”

Further, the Mail’s Dec. 4 story reported falsely that Mulrooney’s body had been found in a river, “suggestive of a suicide.”  But, Mulrooney’s body was found Dec. 6 “in a local business yard, after seemingly sustaining a 25 foot fall from an unprotected cliff after a night with friends.”

The Mail issued an apology and a Mail editor apologized in person to Mulrooney’s family, according to Irish Central.  The apology (see here) claimed that “the error arose after a report stating that the body had been found was filed to the paper by a local correspondent” and then the newspaper published the wrong version of the story.

According to Trinity College Dublin’s student newspaper the University Times, Trinity College Dublin will “review” the Irish Daily Mail’s apology at its January 24 student union council meeting.  The University Times suggested that Trinity College Dublin may consider lifting the ban if the apology is deemed acceptable.

We wrote to Trinity College Dublin’s students’ union president, Ryan Bartlett, asking more about this ban, how it works and any possible lifting of the ban, given the Irish Daily Mail’s apology.

Ryan Bartlett, Trinity College Dublin’s students’ union president, told iMediaEthics by e-mail that “The campus shops are run by the Students’ Union and therefore it has the ability to choose what is stocked in the shop.”  For example, he noted that the campus stores haven’t sold Nestlé prodcuts for about nine years, and that previously there was a ban on Coca-Cola products (which was lifted almost three years ago).

Concerning this ban of the Irish Daily Mail, he told iMediaEthics that the suspension will “be reviewed at the next meeting” and that since the students’ union banned the Irish Daily Mail, he’s heard from the Irish Mail on Sunday’s editor, editor-in-chief and a senior staff member.  The council can “revoke the short term policy it enacted at any time,” he noted.

Barlett addressed the Irish Daily Mail’s apology, as well. He wrote: “I hope that our members and other students and members of the public who were affected by the article can draw some comfort from apologies the paper has already issued and the plan to print one in this Sunday’s edition, and that it will ease the pain they are feeling. Unfortunately Caolan’s family and friends have been in mourning since his body was found on Tuesday and our thoughts have been with them during this time.”

According to Irish news site The Journal, student Stephen Garry suggested the ban as a “mark of solidarity and respect” for Mulrooney.

The University Times published a Dec. 4 article by a former classmate of Mulrooney, Conor Kenny.  Kenny wrote that it’s “astounding” that the Daily Mail and Lynch would fabricate and publish “a rumour about a matter so serious, so upsetting, simple to sell a few extra copies” of the newspaper.

Kenny argued that Lynch either didn’t do any research for her story or thought a fake story would be “more interesting.”

iMediaEthics has written to the Daily Mail asking for more information about this story. We also have written to University College Cork’s student union president asking if the union will undertake a similar ban of the newspaper on campus. We’ll update with any response.

Hat Tip: Jim Romenesko

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Irish College Won’t Sell Irish Daily Mail in Campus Stores after Fake Story about Missing Teen

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