Melanie Hatjigiannakis vs iLive

Complainant: Melanie Hatjigiannakis

Lodged by: Melanie Hatjigiannakis

Article: Timeshare a nightmare

Date: 28 June 2013

Respondent:

Complaint

Ms Melanie Hatjigiannakis complains about readers’ comments published on the TimesLive website, iLive, headlined Timeshare a nightmare, published on 5 June this year.

She complains that:

  • VOASA was not asked for comment; and
  • the statement “You must be so proud” (published above the article) was biased.

Analysis

The letters in dispute (two in total) were mainly about “problems” that readers encountered with Flexi Club.

Not asked for comment

The only reference in the first letter to VOASA was that the reader had the disappointing opportunity of dealing with the association. “It…never had a solution or anything positive to report, and I had to constantly follow up.”

Hatjix complains that VOASA was not asked for comment, while Flexi Club did get a chance to respond.

iLIVE says that it was not under any obligation to obtain comment from VOASA. “We chose to ask Flexi Club for its responses to the complaints…because they were specific complaints involving disputes over money and contracts which could possibly inform similar queries and complaints from our readers.” It also states that it felt it would only be fair to give Flexi Club an opportunity to respond as the complaints were specific allegations that implied breaches of contract.

“However, we are not generally obliged to seek comment from the subjects of letters from readers because these are clearly their opinion and are not presented as news reports,” Smuts argues.

Under these circumstances, iLIVE has to be commended for asking Flexi Club for its comments as the publication was indeed under no obligation to do so.

By not asking VOASA for comment iLIVE cannot possibly be in breach of the Press Code, as this is indeed not normal journalistic practice.

‘You must be so proud’ – biased

Hatjix complains that the words “You must be so proud” served to highlight the biased manner in which TimesLive was reporting “and is unbecoming of what purports to be a reputable media outlet”.

iLIVE says that this message was not sent by the reporter of any news editor, but by an anonymous person.

There is no way that these words, coming from an anonymous person, can be construed as representing the views and beliefs of iLIVE.

Finding

The complaint is dismissed.

Appeal

Our Complaints Procedures lay down that within seven working days of receipt of this decision, either party may apply for leave to appeal to the Chairperson of the SA Press Adjudication Panel, Judge Bernard Ngoepe, fully setting out the grounds of appeal. He can be contacted at Khanyim@ombudsman.org.za.

Johan Retief

Press Ombudsman