A recorded discussion
Since JP published the first in their series of defamatory articles about Natha on 24th May, Natha has been trying to get its reply printed in the paper, as guaranteed by law and democracy – or so we thought! Natha sent a reply to JP’s first article, and JP refused to publish it, using the bureaucratic excuse that the reply was not formulated according to the formal way the law stipulates.
Natha has repeatedly done its best to comply with these legal regulations, twice reformulating the request for reply – yet JP also rejected both of these requests. Natha's PR spokesperson had a phone conversation with the one in charge of JP’s responses to Natha's requests, and in this discussion - which was recorded and is published here for your consideration – that person made the following shocking statements:
1. He said that the request for reply does not comply with the law, but refused to say which part of the reply was problematic, or which requirement of the law was not fulfilled.
2.He was unwilling to enter into a dialogue about the formulation of a reply that would be accepted by JP, stating that ''we can obviously not agree'' upon a reply – in this way rejecting any possibility of reply, and directing Natha to the press board.
This response clearly shows that JP has no intention of publishing a reply from Natha, while at the same time it continues to publish articles which attack the school.
Natha will proceed and complain to the press board about JP for denying the right to reply and for violating the press code of ethics. The press board can oblige JP to post Natha's reply, but it cannot impose any penalties on the newspaper for its misconduct, nor make it compensate Natha for the damage done to it.
Isn't it shocking that in a country that takes pride in its democracy, the right of people to defend themselves publicly and the right to free speech are denied with such arrogance by the press? Isn't it alarming that a newspaper (especially a big one), which is supposed to protect citizens from being abused by the state, is acting like the one who carries out the persecution instead? If the press board decides that JP was wrong, this will not have any negative consequences upon the paper, so it is encouraging the paper to repeat this behavior in the future. It is no wonder that most people who have faced such behavior from the press simply give up and do not even try to object; considering that there is little chance to find justice in the face of such a system. Is this democracy, or does it better resemble a dictatorship of the media (which is privately owned by a few people)? What is the motivation and force behind the unacceptable behavior of JP towards a simple yoga school?
If the JP team did not have another hidden agenda and they were after the truth, they, like any professional journalists, would have published the other side of the story, even if it was not formulated according to law. Furthermore, the journalist and JP would have corrected their mistakes immediately, even if the correction was not given to them written on the “right kind of paper”, if they were after the truth. Instead the JP team proved they are not interested in uncovering the truth since they have not carried out any of the actions their profession demands of them.
That JP claims to be an objective newspaper which upholds the truth proves in this case to be just a marketing lie. They should at least be honest enough to say that they are only reflecting their opinion and it is not something objective.
Natha hopes that the press board will show common sense and goodwill and will analyze the case objectively – so that at least Natha's right to reply will be respected. Yet, after the shocking behavior we have seen from the press so far, it is regretful to say that we will not be totally surprised if the press board does not exhibit the impartiality and correctness that is expected in a democratic country.
Here is the discussion with the JP employee in charge of responding to Natha's requests for reply; for your consideration:
SP: Tage Clausen?
SP: I am calling you because I see your name on the first letter you sent back to us regarding our reply that you reject because you consider the formal requirements have not been met.
SP: But I have a question - we sent you a new request for reply on 12th June. Did you receive it?
SP: You did receive it?
TC: Yes, we did.
SP: Then I would like to know if you can evaluate whether or not this new reply complies with the formal requirements.
TC: Yes, it does not and it will be sent to you, but you know what? I would recommend you call the press council, because they are always very helpful with working these things out.
SP: But we have been consulting the recommendations of the press council and according to our judgement the latest reply actually complies with the formal requirements.
TC: Okay, that is not our judgement.
SP: I see, but that would probably be your opinion no matter what we send you.
TC: Yes, but you know what, the situation is that when we disagree that you comply with the requirements, then you have no choice but to complain to press council and there you will also find references to complaints.
SP: But can you give us some examples of what it is that you don’t…
TC: No, no, we can…
SP: You haven’t told us what it is in the replies that you have a problem with
TC: We will not go into such detailed specifications.
TC: References to websites do not belong in replies.
SP: Because in my reply that I have in front of me, there are only references to statements from different persons, as well as corrections of erroneous facts. For example, the wrong information you write here that MISA in Romania is accused of trafficking women, prostitution and anti-Semitism. That is clearly wrong, and there is no court case against MISA, it is against some yoga instructors and yoga practitioners, and it is not concerning prostitution and anti-Semitism, because it is voluntary work which is under certain regulations in Romania. So that is clearly wrong. I am surprised how you can reject a reply completely, when there are some elements that you could easily remove and say: “we would like to print this and this and this, but these separate judgements that you give we will not print”. It is obvious that you don’t want to cooperate regarding this reply, because then you would say that there are some judgements that we unfortunately did not print in our paper, because it doesn’t comply with the requirements for the reply, but the rest we can print. Do you understand what I mean? It would be a lot easier for all parties and it would prevent us from having to run a very long case with the press council and you about these matters. Rather than just printing these corrections in your paper. P4 (radio program) has corrected their mistakes; they have corrected something that they said wrong in their radio program.
TC: Listen to me, I am right now finding the instructions for reply from the committee of press ethics, and here is their point of view: “The media can demand that the one who puts the request is formulating the reply, it is therefore practical to formulate it at the same time as requesting the reply. The committee has among other things in connection with the annual report from 1994 urged the media…’
SP: But Tage, if you reject the retort you have to explain us why, you can’t just say that it has been rejected, and it doesn’t comply with the formal requirements, because that is not a dialogue. You have to explain us what is wrong.
TC: But listen to the rest of the sentence I was reading for you. The committee has among other things in connection with the annual report from 1994 urged the media that they help formulate the retort in the case where a retort is legitimate. The media is not obliged to help with the formulation. It says directly that the media are not obliged to help with the formulation.
SP: But it doesn’t say anything about you rejecting our retort, why are you doing that.
TC: No, no we are not. And I simply think you should try to talk with the committee of press ethics.
SP: Well then it makes no sense, we can just as well forget about it, if you will reject our retorts no matter what. If this is the case you might as well say it directly, that you will not print in Jyllands-Posten any of our corrections. And even erroneous facts you will not correct, because it is clear that you will not consider any part of the retort. Then you can just as well say it directly, and then we will go through the committee of press ethics and we will start a trial through the committee of press ethics and so on. This will be the way we will do it if that is what you want.
TC: Well, I think you should complain to the committee of press ethics, since we can obviously not agree, but you cannot say that we will not print retorts generally speaking , because we have to if it complies with the formal requirements, then there is no question about it. I can hear that I think it will be the right thing to do to take this case through the committee of press ethics.