Fake Rape by ‘Middle Eastern Men’ story gets Sydney Morning Herald's Paul Sheehan Suspended, Unpublished, - iMediaEthics

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The Sydney Morning Herald suspended columnist Paul Sheehan “until further notice” for publishing a false story alleging a woman called Louise was raped by “Middle Eastern men.”

Sheehan’s now-unpublished column “described in graphic and lurid detail the woman’s savage gang rape by a pack of Middle Eastern men in Sydney’s CBD in August 2002,” according to the Australian Broadcasting Corp’s Media Watch.

Media Watch reported that Sheehan didn’t fact check the claims:

“He made no effort to put her story to the police or to St Vincent’s hospital. He obtained no confirmation of any treatment she’d received.  And he found no documentary or witness evidence to back up her claims. Indeed, he didn’t even bother to meet her face to face.”

On Feb. 28, Sheehan published an apology and admitted in a follow-up column that he shouldn’t have written her story. “Now all I could see were flashing red lights, barriers and sirens.”

Sydney Morning Herald editor Darren Goodsir pointed iMediaEthics to his statement which confirmed Sheehan’s suspension and apologized for the fabrication. Goodsir said:

“I have concluded a formal review into the column ‘The horrifying untold story of Louise’, published on Monday, February 22. The article has since been retracted and, on behalf of the Herald, I once again unreservedly apologise for the column and the hurt and distress it understandably caused.

“The formal review, which included a comprehensive examination of editorial processes, found unacceptable breaches of fundamental journalistic practice. The columnist, who has also apologised for the report and admitted this serious lapse, will stand aside from his duties until further notice.

“The Herald’s reputation is founded on the trust our readers give us to provide fair, balanced and independent journalism, and it is critical that the editorial integrity of the Herald is maintained.

Last month, the Herald apologized for the column, saying “key elements of the original story were unable to be substantiated.”

“The original story, which has been corrected, included aspersions against the Middle Eastern community and raised untested allegations of inaction against the NSW Police,” the Herald said.

On Twitter last month, Sheehan apologized for the column.

iMediaEthics has contacted Sheehan over Twitter for comment about the apology and suspension.

Hat Tip: Media Watch

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Fake Rape by ‘Middle Eastern Men’ story gets Sydney Morning Herald’s Paul Sheehan Suspended, Unpublished,

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