See a tweet at https://twitter.com/MoCo4Safety/status/1229054736126611456
Read the decision" @WilliamJBroad @nyt article breached Principle 1 (Truth and Accuracy) of the Code of Practice of the Press Council of Ireland.https://t.co/nLRx9ytDc7 @alanburdick @EllenBarryNYT @kenvogel @iraflatow @katherinemiller @maggieNYT @celiadugger https://t.co/HOYM2RBDvS pic.twitter.com/ABZ0RqPosY— Citizens of Montgomery County (@MoCo4Safety) February 16, 2020
If you want to see the decision simply go to Irish Press Ombudsperson page and read it as it is front page news here https://www.pressombudsman.ie
Then--- Read the Sunday article in The UK Times here- Prof Tom Butler's complaint upheld over wi-fi article in Irish Times
Professor Tom Butler of University College Cork filed a complaint with the Office of the Press Ombudsman for the Press Council of Ireland about a cell phone story written by William Broad for The New York Times (William J. Broad, "The 5G Health Hazard That Isn't;" New York Times, July 16, 2019) and reprinted by The Irish Times (William J. Broad, "Are there any real links between wireless technology and health?," September 5, 2019).
Environmental Health Trust repeatedly wrote the Times with documentation on the unfactual information. The NYT refused to update the story.
Thankful Professor Butler in Ireland went to the Press Ombudsperson with documentation on the false information in the article. The Press Ombudsman concluded that the Broad story violated the truth and accuracy code of practice of the Press Council of Ireland.
Following is The Irish Times' report of the Press Ombudsman's response which was published today and a copy of Broad's article as it appeared in The Irish Times. Attached are copies of the complaint that Professor Butler submitted to the Irish Press Ombudsman and the response he received from the Ombudsman.
Professor Tom Butler and The Irish Times
The Irish Times, Feb 6, 2020
The Press Ombudsman has upheld a complaint by Professor Tom Butler that The Irish Times breached Principle 1 (Truth and Accuracy) of the Code of Practice of the Press Council of Ireland.
On 5 September 2019 The Irish Times published online an article challenging concerns that there might be health risks associated with 5G technology. A sub-heading to the article stated that the blossoming anxiety over professed health risks of 5G “can be traced to a single scientist and a single chart”.
Professor Butler made a formal complaint to the Office of the Press Ombudsman claiming that Principle 1 (Truth and Accuracy) and Principle 2 (Distinguishing Fact and Comment) of the Code of Practice had been breached. Professor Butler challenged what he understood to be the subtext of the article which was, he said, that there were “no real links between wireless technology and health”. In particular, he disputed the accuracy of the sub-heading to the article, claiming that there was “significant scientific concern that dates back to the 1950s, at the very least”. He referenced many scientific papers and research findings which questioned the safety of microwave radiation, stating that “there is a significant body of scientific evidence on hazardous non-thermal levels of microwave radiation”. He questioned the statement of the author of the article that “mainstream scientists continue to see no evidence of harm from cell phone radio waves” which he described as “demonstrably false”.
The Irish Times responded by saying the article had been published in good faith and that its author had “twice won the Pulitzer prize and is a long-established science writer with the New York Times”. The Irish Times said that the article had been supplied by the syndication service of The New York Times and that it had been written by a “highly respected writer and commentator” who was expressing his opinions in the article. The editor stated that The Irish Times “does not have an opinion on whether there are links between wireless technology and health”. What was published, he said, was the author’s opinions on this subject. An offer of the publication of a letter that “would need to be not longer than 500-600 words” which would provide an opportunity to challenge the original article was made.
Professor Butler declined the offer of a letter of the length suggested as the “subject matter was not conducive to expression in a mere 500 words”.
As the complaint could not be resolved by conciliation it was forwarded to the Press Ombudsman for a decision.
It is not the function of the Press Ombudsman to evaluate the conflicting claims of the effects of wireless technology. The Press Ombudsman’s task is to decide if the Code of Practice of the Press Council has been breached. Principle 1 requires the press to strive at all times for truth and accuracy. In the article the author made assertions about the effects of wireless technology which Professor Butler claimed were inaccurate. His complaint, which included substantial supporting documentation and international research, contained sufficiently persuasive evidence to allow a decision that the article did not meet requirements in regard to Principle 1. It is a frequently repeated truism that everyone is entitled to his own opinion but not his own facts. An opinion piece in a newspaper has the same obligation to facts as any other part of a newspaper. I am upholding this complaint on the basis that the article, in not taking more account of scientific research that raised concerns about the impact on human health of radio waves, breached the accuracy requirements found in Principle 1.
In this instance The Irish Times offered Professor Butler an opportunity to publish a 500-600 word letter. In my opinion given the complex arguments on the effects of wireless technology this was not a sufficient response to resolve the complaint.
Other parts of the complaint were not upheld. The full decision can be accessed at www.pressombudsman.ie
7 January 2020