A death in the… wrong family?

Posted on September 1, 2011


So I was idly reading the Advertiser during a quick snack break at work yesterday when a strangely-formatted piece of writing caught my eye. It was not the same as the miscellaneous articles around it which, though important, paled in comparison to the contents of that small bit of text at the top of page 3 on the 31st of August, 2011. The day before, on the 30th of August, 2011, the Advertiser presented a front-page, feature article of a young man falling to his death attempting the ‘ultimate tag’ on a bridge (Rice, Littlely & Robertson, 2011), and named the youth, as well as providing a photo of him, and the sombre, full-colour, large image of his covered body being carried away by EMTs (emergency medical technician). The very next day, they posted a rescinding apology note (Advertiser, 2011) stating that the boy mentioned within the article was not, in fact, the boy who was killed, but a totally different boy, with a different surname, from a different part of Adelaide.

A mix up of names in the paper is one thing, but it was a mix up that involved a young man who, though his actions are questionable, has met with a tragic end. To compound this, the boy they did mention is also an actual, living person. So not only has one family had their newly deceased son misrepresented in the paper, on the front page, complete with colour image, but another family has no doubt suffered some form of discomfort, possibly not moderate, at reading their son’s name in the paper, informing them that he is dead. And if they were not distressed, then his friends would certainly be.

I understand that the Advertiser made a mistake, and I understand that  mistakes happen, and that they apologised for it, but what I think is most insulting is that the mistake was broadcasted to Adelaide and anyone else that would receive the Advertiser on the front page, but the apology was not. In fact, it was quite small and unremarkable. On the third page. Formatted differently so as to disassociate itself with the rest of the newspaper. Moreover, the apology is only to the boy incorrectly mentioned in the article. Where is the apology to the family of the deceased boy, whose son is now not even truly mentioned? Contrition? I am not feeling it. More like a paper covering its arse, hoping against hope they don’t get sued in the face of poor information-gathering, and not caring a damn for the distress they caused two families, one that lost someone precious and beloved, and one that will always fear the same. Sorry, Advertiser, but your apology seems insincere. Much like that one there.



Advertiser, The 2011, Apology to Ryan Smith and his family, Advertiser, 31 August <http://infoweb.newsbank.com/iw-search/we/InfoWeb?p_product=AWNB&p_theme=aggregated5&p_action=doc&p_docid=1396EE2F4618E1F0&d_place=ADVB&f_issue=2011-08-30&f_publisher=&gt;, viewed 1 September 2011

Rice, S Littlely B & Robertson, D 2011, Ultimate graffiti cost teenager his life – FATAL TAG, Advertiser, 30th August, <http://infoweb.newsbank.com/iw-search/we/InfoWeb?p_product=AWNB&p_theme=aggregated5&p_action=doc&p_docid=1396EE2F4618E1F0&d_place=ADVB&f_issue=2011-08-30&f_publisher=&gt; viewed 1 September, 2011

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