Sunderland Echo Praised By Government As A Trusted Voice

The Commission for Countering Extremism praised the Sunderland Echo as a “trusted voice” and welcomed its ‘careful’ and considered approach responding to far-right protests in a report entitled ‘Challenging Hateful Extremism.’

Sunderland was used as a case study and the report outlined: “Tensions erupted in September 2016, when a woman alleged she had been gang raped by a group of Middle-Eastern men, reporting the claim on social media as well as to police. Following an extensive police investigation, the CPS, lacking evidence to substantiate the claim, did not authorise the police to charge any suspects. Prominent Far Right figures took up the woman’s cause, organising 13 marches in 13 months.”

The report noted that The Echo could not report on the matters due to criminal justice reporting rules which led to “social media disinformation, often emanating from outside the UK, impossible to counter for a considerable time.”

It continued: “Sunderland has a recent history of Far Right marches and the Sunderland Echo has always made a point of refusing to give coverage to them out of an abhorrence of what they represented. However, when an issue arose that was so newsworthy that it made publication irresistible, the team at the Sunderland Echo considered how to report it very carefully. In the end they did not report, although they did publish some quotations from the campaigners. When they explained their thought process to us, we were impressed with the level of detail that their considerations went into.”

It concludes: “As the example of the Sunderland Echo showed, there is a delicate balance that must be struck by media organisations to report on such incidents…  We praise the thoughtful approach taken by the Sunderland Echo to be a trusted voice putting verified information into the public domain locally.”

JPI Media North East Editorial director, Joy Yeates, said in HoldtheFrontPage: “With any criminal case and where allegations of criminal activity are made, the Echo, along with other media outlets, has strict legal guidelines that must be followed. 

“We were pleased to see in the Commission’s report that the Echo was recognised as a trusted voice and commended for the thoughtful approach it took when reporting on this matter.

“Our audiences expect the highest standards from our staff and it is our duty to and responsibility to always adhere to the legal guidelines that are in place.”