Parents Of Kate Fitzgerald To Meet Irish Times Editor This Week

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Tom and Sally Fitzgerald, the parents of the late Kate Fitzgerald, say they will meet with the editor of the Irish Times, Kevin O’Sullivan (above), as early as tomorrow to find out why the paper first edited and then redacted an anonymous article by their daughter.

Sally Fitzgerald has said the family are also considering legal action against the paper over copyright issues and the damage caused to Kate’s posthumous reputation “as a writer” by the paper’s actions*.

Kate’s piece, entitled Employers Failing People With Mental Health Issues, detailed her battle with depression and made a number of claims against her employer. It was published anonymously on September 9 two weeks after she took her own life.

An interview on November 26 with her parents revealed that Kate was the author of the  article. Kate’s employer was not identified in either article.

Two days later, the paper edited the online edition of Kate’s article removing mention of her own personal experiences when she returned to work after after she spent a period of time at a hospital.

The following Saturday, December 3, the Irish Times issued an apology to The Communications Clinic, where Kate had worked as a consultant, which was granted “without legal representation”

Two days later the online archive edition of Kate’s entire article (including suicide helpline information) was physically blurred and then, later, blacked out.

On the same day Mr O’Sullivan wrote an op-ed piece stating: “After publication of the piece on Kate’s life some further details of her final months emerged. This led to an Irish Times decision to edit the initial piece and to publish a clarification in Saturday’s editions. In my view, this was necessary in the context of fairness and it does not undermine in any way Kate’s life and the story told by her family, including her brother William.”

Sally, who said the Irish Times have “never contacted” the Fitzgerald family about the apology or the editing of Kate’s article, said neither Kate’s family “nor her friends” understand why the paper has acted in the way they have.

She said: “We have no answers. We talked with Kate’s friends at the weekend and they have no idea what’s going on [either].”

Two concerts were held on Friday and Saturday, in honour of Kate.The events, in Glengariff, Co Cork raised €6,000 for Plan Ireland, Kate’s favourite charity.

Previously: Kate Fitzgerald, The Irish Times And The Communications Clinic

How Quickly We Forget (OurManInStockholm, December 9)

‘Dav’ on depression (discussion page 8, boards.ie)

*Moral rights were introduced throughout the European Union in the Copyright & Related Rights Act, 2000 and they include the ‘integrity right’, the “right to prevent mutilation, distortion or other derogatory alteration of the work”. Moral rights may be waived, but a waiver must be in writing. (Source: Copyright Association of Ireland)

38 thoughts on “Parents Of Kate Fitzgerald To Meet Irish Times Editor This Week

  1. caimin

    “Sally, who said the Irish Times have “never contacted” the Fitzgerald family about the apology or the editing of Kate’s article, said neither Kate’s family “nor her friends” understand why the paper has acted in the way they have.”

    Why not ask the lads at Broadsheet? I assume the reasons are the same..

      1. caimin

        Clearly I have no idea why you led with the story for the best part of a week, then posted a teaser post promising a major update, before shutting down the website for 18 hours and then pretending the whole thing never happened. What’s the story there?

  2. cabogue

    “Kate’s employer was not identified in either article.”
    Wrong. They were identified to anyone who knew her as soon as she was named as the writer — hence the disastrous attempts at editing out the libels by the Irish Times. They were also identified even more clearly on Broadsheet for anyone who happened to google Kate’s name or the article, making the problem worse.

    My condolences to the family.

    1. well

      “hence the disastrous attempts at editing out the libels by the Irish Times”

      “My condolences to the family.”

      im not sure you really mean that

      1. Pedanto, the Hilarity Man

        Why would you say something like that? It’s possible to feel bad for a bereaved family and yet not agree with your reading of every single circumstance surrounding their bereavement.

        I wish people could disagree with each other without calling each other’s sincerity into question.

  3. Orla

    I imagine this is one of Broadsheet’s main points Cabogue. The Irish Times didn’t identify the Communications Clinic but yes, the company would have been identified as her employer the second Peter Murtagh’s article hit the shops. It’s hard to believe the Irish Times wouldn’t have expected jigsaw identification, when different sources of material put together reveal a person’s identity. It’s something all media outlets are very careful of when reporting on rape cases, in order to keep a victim’s identity secret. But by redacting Kate’s article, and not Murtagh’s, the movements by the Irish Times seem even more bizarre.

    1. Fat Frog

      Spot on, this is the issue. The IT have acted scurrilously in all of this as it was their lack of due diligence at the outset that led to the identification of TCC. Broadsheet have done nothing other than link up information that was already in public domain thanks to the IT and facilitate discussion through these pages. The IT subsequently tried to hand off responsibility for their poor performance and have tarnished Kate’s good name as a result.

      I am glad her parents are pursuing the matter and hope they find some satisfaction in what must be a horribly painful situation.

  4. alfla

    I’ve been following this since the outset, and while I agree there are definite legal implications for what the Irish Times did and didn’t do, this is a unique situation – the accusation of libel that in itself smears the name of the accused, who is dead and can’t defend herself.

    But beyond the details of what has happened with regards to Kate’s article, I am curious as to why larger questions aren’t being asked around the TTC by any journalist. An employee settles out of court on a bullying case, another commits suicide.

    Work pressure that leads to suicide is a common topic in the “outside world”:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1382396/Workers-Chinese-Apple-factories-forced-sign-pledges-commit-suicide.html

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/2011/aug/27/disney-factory-sweatshop-suicide-claims

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/apr/30/apple-chinese-factory-workers-suicides-humiliation

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/china-business/7773011/A-look-inside-the-Foxconn-suicide-factory.html

    But this one doesn’t warrant investigation or reporting, it seems. It’s been muddied by the libel issue, but it’s worrying that no journalist or public official is even trying to touch this. There is legitimate evidence of wrongdoing here, but the issue of “culpability” when it comes to suicide seems to be so terrifying for everyone in Irish society that nobody will touch it.

    This isn’t about “culpability” for Kate’s final act, it’s about the working conditions she so succinctly described in her article. Does anyone believe that she, along with the bullying accuser, were lying? And even so, is nobody willing to at least debunk the accusations?

    A terrible shyness from journalists who might have a chance to do some good (and set a wider example for employers) instead of whimpering under a pile of legal dictionaries.

    1. Pedanto, the Hilarity Man

      “Does anyone believe she was lying?” is a bit of a blunt instrument. She said a range of things in her article, some of them very kind about her employers. Do you believe she was lying when she absoleved them of blame? Of course you don’t. Please extend the same courtesy to the other side, and try not to paint them into a position where disagreeing with you involves disrespecting Kate.

      Her article was an emotional plea for tolerance and understanding, not an affidavit for the prosecution. I think the attempt to use it as evidence against her employers is wrong in every way. It ignores both the content and the heart of what she wrote.

      We also can’t use a settlement whose terms are undisclosed as evidence of anything, except the fact that the parties reached an agreement. And terms like “whimpering” are rhetorical colour rather than argument. Maybe we’d be better leaving them aside?

      (Apologies if this is a near-duplicate of a previous post. It seems to have disappeared when I pressed send.)

    2. paz

      I absolutely agree alfla…and thank you for the links.

      In a way, all of this is distracting attention from the important issues. As I see it, the central focus here should be the serious problems of suicide and depression in our society, and discrimination against those with mental health issues. The issue of bullying in the workplace has also reared its ugly head.

      Several parties have obviously been desperately trying to cover up and deflect blame, and fear of being brought to account and/or of legal action has caused them to behave most unethically. All of this discussion is really good and we need more of it. Hopefully it will continue until the whole truth comes out, and the most important issues won’t be forgotten in the midst of all the finger-pointing.

    3. robh

      the reason for the journalists’ shyness is because people like Terry Prone control the media in Ireland. It also explains why the original article was edited ‘without legal representation’, according to the IT themselves. All of which makes traditional media here less relevant and services like Broadsheet all the more vital.

    1. paul

      Excellent stuff Tom/Devore. I always think there should be a better term than ‘depression’ for that empty feeling, it’s like a kind of induced magnified apathy. It can be very difficult to explain.

      1. paul

        …and typical boards the second comment is telling you to eff off to another forum…I suppose if it was Broadsheet someone would have picked you up on a spelling mistake!

  5. gatsby

    If the Fitzgerald family actually take legal action against the newspaper for monetary damages, then I have lost all respect for this family. Surely, all the bad publicity surrounding The Irish Times and/or journalistic integrity has allowed Kate’s message about depression to be heard loud and clear…and has allowed it to reach an audience much broader than the readers of the original anonymous publication.

    1. Fat Frog

      What an egocentric ass you are- why should her family care about losing your respect- they have lost their daughter.

    2. cluster

      What ever will they do without the respect of gatsby?

      Taking legal action could help Kate’s message be distributed more widely.

  6. cross-eyed cow

    Why are the pieces about Kate Fitzgerald not showing up as “most commented on” over there on the right any more?

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