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Substitute mother's interview

Adjudication
14 February 2001

EPC discussed a complaint made by E.V concerning the article published in SL Õhtuleht headlined "I am ready to give birth to my daughter's baby!"

According to the complaint the journalist used aggressive manners while preparing the story. The childless couple had an agreement with the magazine Anna that their case would be published only with the consent of the magazine. The use of photograph was unauthorised. The complainant considered the expression "infertile" to be offensive.

The chief editor of SL Õhtuleht explained to EPC that the topic was acute due to its newsworthiness and it had been made public in detail using actual names in the magazine Anna as well as Radio Kuku. The interview with the future substitute mother was made upon an agreement with her and published to the agreed extent. The complainant did not witness the interview with the substitute mother Helle Umbsaar. According to the chief editor, the word "infertile" was not used in offensive context.

EPC took the position that SLÕL had not breached good journalistic practice.

E.V. and his wife voluntarily made their case public in detail and with real names. It is erroneous to imagine that a private story could be published only in selected media outlets and the independent use of facts and quota by other media could be prevented. No media channel can provide such guarantees and those given would clearly contradict Clause 3.3 of the Code.
[3.3. Journalists must strictly keep any promises made to their sources and must avoid making promises they may not be able to keep.]

EPC cannot take a decision concerning the agreements between the parties as the statements contradict. In cases like that, EPC suggests to document the reached agreement in detail prior to the interview.

EPC finds that the word "infertile" was not used offensively in the context of the particular sentence. Also, the article did not represent the persons involved in a bad, pejorative light.

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