Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sky News: A Lesson on “How to manipulate facts and produce a slanderous documentary, disguised as a news report”

On Sunday, May 13, around 02:45 pm, Sky News TV anchor introduced a story related with Madeleine McCann abduction, emphasising the fact that Madeleine’s case was fading away from the Portuguese Press. A report from a Sky News journalist in Portugal was broadcasted next. The content of that report was exactly the opposite of the idea given in the introduction of the story. The report from Portugal showed images of pilgrims in Fatima, celebrating the 90th anniversary of the sighting of Virgin Mary, and emphasised the fact that many of the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims had posters and pictures of Madeleine.

The report showed also images of a newsstand, where it was clearly visible that every newspaper and magazine had Madeleine’s image on the front page. The conclusion of the journalist reporting from Portugal was clear: Madeleine’s case was not fading away from the Portuguese Media. The report was broadcasted only once, and never was repeated, in the following news bulletins. It seems to me that this is a case of inaccuracy, misleading statement and distortion, and I think Sky News should have acted in order to correct it.

Also, a Sky News special report about Madeleine’s case, broadcasted the same date [May 13, 08:00 pm], had a serious breach of basic ethical standards every journalist must respect. During that special report, Sky News gave a single example of a successful case where the British Police was able to find – alive – a child kidnapped. Immediately after that, it gave a single example of one case of a child missing in Portugal [Rui Pereira] that never was found.

Sky News journalist compared the two situations and the conclusion was that the track record of Portuguese Police was a bad one. This is sheer manipulation. Comparing two singles cases and taking conclusions like Sky News did, is going against basic principles from the Code of Practice enforced by the Press Complaints Office, like the obligation of the Press “not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures” and the need to correct it, with due prominence.

I’ll remind you that in UK, according to the UK National Police Missing Persons Bureau, there was an average of 124 unsolved cases of missing children under 14, on the last four years. In Portugal, from the 80 cases of missing persons still open, from a legal point of view [missing for more than one year] only nine are children and one of them is Madeleine.

In 2006, the Instituto de Apoio à Criança (IAC, a government department in charge of monitoring child abuse) registered 31 cases of missing underage (-18 years) persons. 24 of them were found by the police. This is a rate of 77, 43 % of success in finding missing children. Two of them were found to be dead. So let’s put these figures very clear: Portuguese Police has a track record of finding 77, 43 % of missing children, even if 6,45 % of those children were found dead, and 22,58 % are still missing [mainly adolescents running from home]. From those 31 missing children, only 5 [6.45] were between one and five years old.

I challenge Sky News, the all British Media and every of those British citizens that have been posting, in blogs, sites and forums so many insulting, offensive, slanderous, racists and defamatory comments about the Portuguese police, to produce the same statistical data about British Police. Than, we can see which one has a bad track record, as Sky News concluded, after a carefully planned manipulation of facts, disguised as “journalism”.

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