A few people have asked me over the past day to provide them with pointers as to how to officially complain about the treatment of Kate Fitzgerald and her final words by the Irish Times.
It goes without saying that those who are concerned about the newspaper’s handling of the affair should stop buying the title and continuing placing public pressure on it through means such as twitter and Facebook. But for those of you who want to take it further, here is a brief guide to the process.
There are three potential avenues of complaint: the Irish Times itself, the Irish Times trust and the independent Press Ombudsman. You can complain to the Irish Times and the members of the Irish Times trust directly but you must have sent a letter of complaint to the Irish Times and received a response from the newspaper before you can approach the Ombudsman.
Writing to the Irish Times
The most effective way of registering a complaint with a newspaper is by post. In my experience, emails and phone calls still don’t get treated as seriously as a good old-fashioned letter.
The letter should be addressed to:
The Irish Times,
PO BOX 74,
Tara Street, Dublin 2.
The letter should politely and concisely outline your concerns about the Irish Times’ handling of the issue. Potential areas of complaint could involve the re-editing of Kate’s article and nature of its apology to the Communications’ Clinic.
After outlining your complaint, you should ask the newspaper to take a course of action, such as issuing a retraction of the apology or ask it to explain in detail why it re-edited Kate’s article and what elements it believes weren’t factual.
Writing to the Irish Times Trust
The Irish Times has an unusual ownership structure and the newspaper’s operations are theoretically overseen by the Irish Times Trust, a body which aims to ensure that the newspaper’s operates in an independent manner and doesn’t fall unduly over the influence of, for example, a PR company. The current members of the trust are listed here.
I would recommend that concerned readers should approach the members of the trust independently, express their concerns and ask them for a commitment to raise the issue at the next meeting of the trust. Remember that the trust is only an overseer and would have had no role in the editorial decisions which culminated in the desecration of Kate’s memory.
The Press Ombudsman
The Irish Times’ web page detailing the process of raising concerns about its publication to the Press Ombudsman is non-functional at the moment. But the basic procedure is that you can approach the Ombudsman if you complain in writing to the Irish Times and are dissatisfied with their response.