Trinity College Dublin bans the Daily Mail newspaper after faking student death story
By: Daniel O'Carroll | Published Thursday, December 8, 2011, 2:30 PM | Updated Thursday, December 8, 2011, 2:30 PM
An Irish university has moved to ban a prominent tabloid from its campus after it deliberately published a story falsely claiming that a search subject had been found dead.
Although Caolan Mulrooney, a 19 year old teenager, tragically was
found dead just two days after the story's publication, it was clear within hours of it going to press, while the search was still ongoing, that the body had not yet been found, and that the story had been deliberately invented.
The story, by journalist Marisa Lynch, sparked widespread fury in Cork and on the Twittersphere.
The piece enjoyed a prominent position in the paper's popular Sunday edition, and claimed that the body of the student had been recovered in the River Lee, suggestive of a suicide, – Mulrooney's body was recovered two days later in a local business yard, after seemingly sustaining a 25 foot fall from an unprotected cliff after a night with friends.
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The motion to ban 'the Mail' was passed after students promised to seek some measure of reprisal for the tabloid having deliberately invented the story in a callous and caculated bid to merely sell more copies.
An apology was printed in the newspaper yesterday
, and a marketing manager for the paper's parent company said that the editor had personally travelled to Cork to meet with members of Caolan's family to express his sorrow at the pieces publication.
It now cannot be sold on the campus of Trinity College Dublin, Ireland's most prominent university, while there are rumors that other Irish campuses, including University College Cork where Caolan was studying, will be encouraged to do likewise.
The search for Mulrooney, a first year engineering student who went missing after a night out with friends, drew a near-record number of volunteers in Cork to help out with the search.
In a small city such as Cork there was a real sense of civic cooperation in the case as both friends and those merely moved by the tragic news joined forces to search every metre of the River, and then the area where Caolan had last been seen, to hopefully find the boy, not the body.
The emotion aroused by the search made the tabloid's piece seem all the more heartless.
The 'Mail' is largely viewed as a barely localized counterpart of its UK version, and has been involved in several squirmishes with Irish authorities over its often controversial techniques to get stories, but never has it been reduced to inventing the death of a search victim in a bid to boost ailing revenues and circulation numbers.
The piece was not only grossly offensive, but also had the real danger of encouraging those who had read the piece and not heard it contradicted to give up on the search.
The people who have a right to be most disappointed by the story, though, are journalists themselves, particularly those working for tabloids.
In the wake of the phone hacking inquiry at a time when the industry struggles to regain its sense of decency, stories like these do nothing to further the belief that tabloids are doing anything to clean up their act in the wake of that scandal.
The opposite is of course the case: the story does everything to reinforce the belief that tabloids will stoop to all depths just to get a story.
I only hope that University College Cork (UCC), where Caolan was studying, takes encouragement from their counterparts in Trinity and moves to do likewise.
If it's even for sale here: after that story I'm glad that I honestly don't know.
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