Petition calls for Press Council sanctions on News Corp over treatment of Q&A audience member

More then 10,000 people have signed petition calling for sanctions on News Corp

More then 10,000 people have signed petition calling for sanctions on News Corp

An online petition calling for sanctions against News Corp and its papers over coverage of Q&A questioner Duncan Storrar has quickly amassed more than 10,000 signatures after claims were published that he had been placed on a suicide watch.

However, the Australian Independent Media Network, which first reported the suicide watch claim, has been unable to verify its authenticity, telling Mumbrella the person who contacted them did not want to be named for fear of also being targeted by media.

AIM published claims Storrar was on suicide watch

AIM published claims Storrar was on suicide watch

After the claim was published on Saturday, Duncan Lorenzo from Tweed Heads launched a petition on calling for the Australian Press Council to the Australian Commuications and Media Authority to “suspend” News Corp and stop them publishing “for the rest of the election”.

The petition quickly met its 10,000 signature target after highlighting that Storrar had been placed on suicide watch.

The story of the unemployed father living on a disability pension has dominated segments of the media for the past week after he questioned why he could not afford to take his kids to the movies during the broadcast of Q&A on the ABC on Monday.

A tweet from a Q&A producer labelled him a national hero and a GoFundMe campaign to help Storrar out quickly amassed donations of tens of thousands of dollars.

News Corp papers delved into Storrar's past

News Corp papers delved into Storrar’s past

But News Corp papers, led by The Australian, Daily Telegraph and Herald Sun, looked into his background and published revelations about his personal life, criminal record and commentary from his children about his role in their upbringing and a call from his son for the money to be given to charity.

The coverage has prompted a social media reaction with supporters of Storrar claiming he has been the subject of a witch hunt and that the coverage is out of proportion to the question that he put to the Q&A panel.

Any complaint sent to the Press Council as a result of the petition is expected to focus on issues of “fairness and balance” and “privacy and avoidance of harm”, which are both part of the council’s statement of general principles.

The principles state in part:

Fairness and balance

3. Ensure that factual material is presented with reasonable fairness and balance, and that writers’ expressions of opinion are not based on significantly inaccurate factual material or omission of key facts.

4. Ensure that where material refers adversely to a person, a fair opportunity is given for subsequent publication of a reply if that is reasonably necessary to address a possible breach of General Principle 3.

Privacy and avoidance of harm

5. Avoid intruding on a person’s reasonable expectations of privacy, unless doing so is sufficiently in the public interest.

6. Avoid causing or contributing materially to substantial offence, distress or prejudice, or a substantial risk to health or safety, unless doing so is sufficiently in the public interest.

A complaint relating to avoidance of harm would likely reference the claims of Storrar being placed on suicide watch.

The reports of him being placed on suicide watch have since been repeated by a number of websites.

Sources at the Australian Independent Media Network, a platform for citizen journalists and bloggers, said that while correspondence had been recieved from someone claiming to be a close freind of Storrar, they have not been able to confirm their identity or the truth of the claim.



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