On 11th September 2013, it provided a source story to the ABC on Schapelle Corby's parole application. From this, the ABC published a news report which included the following statement: "The AAP news agency is further quoting a senior official with the Denpasar Prosecutor's Office, Anak Agung Wiradarma, saying Corby's brother-in-law paid a $10,000 fine on Tuesday afternoon for secondary indiscretions in gaol"
This, of course, implied that Schapelle Corby had misbehaved in prison, which was a particularly serious matter given that her once-only parole application was in process. This was especially acute, given that the ABC report was subsequently syndicated in Indonesia.
The statement, however, was entirely false.
The central words "for secondary indiscretions in gaol" were an absolute fabrication: an invention published as fact by the ABC.
A member of the public, realizing that this was wholly untrue, and that it could be extremely damaging, lodged a complaint to the AAP, to whom the ABC had attributed the statement.
The journalist in question responded immediately, as follows:
He stated, categorically, that the addition had been made by the ABC, and indeed, confirmed that it was entirely false.
The ABC had, again, been caught producing and publishing a fabrication which could only have been damaging to the welfare and prospects of Schapelle Corby.
A COMPLAINT TO THE ABC
The member of the public immediately contacted the ABC, submitting a formal complaint directly to its CEO, Mark Scott, and to its board of directors. She asked for an explanation, and demanded a public apology to Schapelle Corby and her family, to be given the same prominence as the original report.
Despite the gravity of the incident, neither of these parties responded. Instead, a reply was returned from the ABC’s Audience & Consumer Affairs, which dismissed the fabrication as an “unintentional mistake”, stating that “The erroneous information was immediately removed and acknowledged in an Editor's Note. A correction has also been posted on the ABC News Corrections page”, and claiming that the journalist had simply “made an incorrect assumption”.
There was no explanation of how such a damaging and blatantly false allegation could be plucked from thin air and published as factual international news, on the basis of an assumption.
There was no explanation of how the entirely manufactured words, produced by the ABC itself, could be directly attributed to the AAP by virtue of a “mistake”.
The ABC closed the matter with:
No response was ever forthcoming from either Mark Scott, or any member of the ABC board.
No steps were taken to mitigate the impact of this fabrication, other than three and a half lines buried in a lengthy and remote correction page.
No apology was ever made to Schapelle Corby, or her family.
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