Reuters issued a rare retraction and apology Feb. 27, admitting that it failed to ask the subject of a news story, Australian billionaire Andrew Forrest, about all allegations against him before publication.
In addition, the retraction notes that the original article “mischaracterized a criticism” and suggested Forrest “misused the Mining Act, lacks respect for indigenous people and their spiritual beliefs, or acted in a hypocritical fashion.”
Forrest sued for defamation over the article, which was headlined, “Australian billionaire uses indigenous land laws to keep prospectors off farm,” The Australian reported in November.
Forrest’s legal and press representatives declined to comment to iMediaEthics about the retraction and story. Similarly, Reuters declined to comment beyond confirming the apology and retraction was published Feb. 27 and put in place of the story, in accordance with its standard practices.
The Feb. 27 “apology and withdrawal” reads in full:
“In July 2017, Reuters withdrew a May 18 article headlined “Australian billionaire uses indigenous land laws to keep prospectors off farm” that referred to Andrew Forrest, founder and chairman of Fortescue Metals Group, the world’s fourth biggest iron ore miner. The article discussed how the Warden’s Court denied licenses to prospectors to search for minerals on land where Forrest holds a pastoral lease.
“Reuters did not intend to convey that Forrest misused the Mining Act, lacks respect for the indigenous people and their spiritual beliefs, or acted in a hypocritical fashion. We regret any misimpression created by the article.“The article did not adequately provide comment from all involved, and Reuters failed to give Forrest an opportunity to respond to certain criticisms that he rejects. The article also mischaracterized a criticism attributed to the head of an entity that oversees landholdings of an Aboriginal group. Our demonstrated commitment to the Reuters Trust Principles of fair, accurate and reliable journalism is unwavering, and we apologize for departing from that commitment here.”