Why was it OK for the UK Times to publish audio of children being bullied? - iMediaEthics

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A 2010 Sunday Times (Credit: Flickr/PROHoward Lake)

It wasn’t an invasion of privacy for the UK Sunday Times to publish an audio clip of children being bullied by fellow students.

That decision was made in a ruling last month by the UK press regulator, the Independent Press Standards Organisation, after one of the boy’s parents’ complained over the Times‘ Sept. 2018 article. The Times‘ article reported on alleged “initiation rituals” at a boarding school, citing a mother’s account of her son’s experience, description of an incident, and audio recordings of an incident. The Times noted that the school suspended the students accused of bullying.

The father who complained, not named by IPSO, said it would have been possible for readers to identify his son as an alleged victim because the class was small and the audio tape included his son’s voice and scream.

The Times argued that its Sept. 2018 article was in the public interest, which IPSO agreed with, and the audio was edited to avoid any victims from being identified. Even if someone could figure out that the man’s son was one of the victims based on the audio — which IPSO indicated that only “a small group of people” would have been able to figure it out — the audio was in “exceptional public interest.”

iMediaEthics has written to the Times.

While IPSO rejected the complaint, the Times did take the audio recording off its website because of the man’s complaint. IPSO noted:

“The newspaper believed that the audio recording allowed readers to hear for themselves the nature of what had occurred. It said that following the publication of the article, the newspaper had received a letter from the head of the Independent Schools Association, supporting the family for speaking out about this issue and the school involved had started an anti-bullying hotline for pupils, all of which it said demonstrated the public interest in publishing the story. “

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Why was it OK for the UK Times to publish audio of children being bullied?

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