The Essex Chronicle apologized after publishing a photo of the wrong person to accompany the story, “Drug dealer given three years in jail,” the UK Press Gazette reported. The Chronicle is a weekly paid newspaper owned by Northcliffe Media.
The Chronicle’s Oct. 26 apology reads:
“In some copies of yesterday’s paper we published a report about the jailing of Alexander Rudd of Yare Avenue, who was found guilty of drug dealing.
“The report was illustrated with a picture of a man also called Alexander Rudd, aged 23, but who is entirely innocent of any offence. We apologise to the innocent Mr Rudd for our error and for any distress caused to him or to his family.”
A photo of the convicted Alexander Rudd accompanied the apology and is shown in the online version of the Oct. 25 article in question.
Press Gazette suggested the photo error happened when the newspaper’s reporter grabbed a photo off Facebook and reported that “The error is believed to have cost the paper as much as £10,000 aside from any possible legal fees” because the newspaper had to pull “thousands of copies of the Braintree edition.” Hold the Front Page added that in total there were about “3,000 copies of the edition.”
iMediaEthics has written to the Chronicle asking how the error was made, what its policy for using Facebook photos is, if the photo was published online, if the newspaper is being sued by the other Alexander Rudd, and how many copies of the print edition were distributed and pulled. We’ll update with any response.
iMediaEthics wrote last year when the Press Complaints Commission ruled the Essex Chronicle broke the conduct code in interviewing someone in a hospital’s “stroke unit.” And, in 2010, we wrote when the Huffington Post used a Facebook photo of the wrong Faisal Shahzad with its coverage of a man with the same name who was later convicted of trying to bomb Times Square.