The Toronto Sun published too many “explicit details” of about allegations of child sexual assault, the Canadian National News Media Council found.
The Sun‘s November 2019 article, “Man, 52, accused of sexually assaulting three children,” originally included “explicit details of six specific incidents of sexual assault,” as well as the victims’ age and “family circumstances,” the National News Media Council reported. Some information in the article was attributed to anonymous sources. iMediaEthics has written to the Sun.
Two days after publication, the Sun updated its article to remove the details of sexual assault and information about the victims. Nonetheless, a reader complained about the article, prompting the News Media Council’s ruling.
The News Media Council reported that the Sun said it got the information from open court, and that there weren’t allegations of errors against the Sun. The council noted that the Sun was “inconsistent” as it said information was from open court but some was also attributed to anonymous sources.
Despite the inconsistency, and the fact that the Sun didn’t publish any correction or editor’s note disclosing the changes to its article, the News Media Council found that the Sun took adequate “corrective action” to resolve the complaint.
The News Media Council criticized the lack of an editor’s note or correction, writing:
“Council noted that the original and updated articles resulted in two vastly different versions of the story, and that the lack of explanation to readers regarding these significant changes was particularly concerning.
“Corrections serve to promote transparency and accountability as well as build trust with readers. Best practice is to correct errors and acknowledge changes in a consistent and transparent manner. In cases where information in an article is corrected, clarified or omitted, a brief statement noting such changes and the reasons behind them is often sufficient to provide readers with appropriate indication of how the article has been changed.”