VG newspaper Norway (bomb)

Norwegian newspaper VG - the offices of which were damaged in the bomb blast - was cleared by the PFU following complaints over massacre coverage

Credit: Kristine Lowe
Norway's press complaints body Norsk Presseforbund (PFU) has ruled on six cases relating to media coverage of the July Oslo bombing and shooting on Utoya island, finding two of them breached ethical guidelines.

In statements released by the press council today, and published online, the PFU ruled that daily newspapers Dagsavisen and Stavanger Aftenblad breached its editorial code after publishing an image of a dead woman on their front pages the day after the attacks.

According to the press council's statements, translated using Google, it agreed that the image "has considerable strength and historical value" but felt there was "a pressing ethical obligation not to print the image".

Part 4.6 of the council's code of ethics states that newspapers must "consider how reports of accidents and criminal cases can affect the victims and their families".

"Do not identify victims or missing persons unless next of kin have been informed. Show respect for people in grief," it adds.

The four other complaint cases were found to not be in breach. These included the use of images of Anders Behring Breivik on 36 of Dagbladets' front pages, the use of reconstruction images by broadcaster NRK, and newspaper VG's use of images of the attack reconstruction, as well as separately the identification of an investigator in the case.

Commenting on case 200/11, which refers to the complaints about the use of reconstruction images by VG – the offices of which were damaged in the bomb blast – the council said it believes VG "has demonstrated sober, and not speculative, imagery by placing the most dramatic image far behind in the paper, and have a cover [in] which Breivik is a very small part and stands with [his] back to [you]".

In the UK the Press Complaints Commission received around 41 complaints relating to coverage of the Oslo bombing and attacks in July.

This included approximately 28 complaints about coverage in the Sun on 23 July 2011, under Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice, but there was no breach found.

A total of eight complaints were made about images published in the Daily Mail, the Mail on Sunday and the Daily Telegraph, but no breach was found. The PCC also said that it did not receive a complaint from the families of those pictured.

A single complaint was made against the Daily Mirror for its article "Norway massacre: Mirror reporter first to visit Utoya", under Clause 5 of the code, but again was not found to breach the code.

According to the PCC, four complaints were also made by MP Frank Field about articles in the Guardian, the Wirral News, the Liverpool Daily Post and the Liverpool Echo, who argued that the articles were "inaccurate and misleading".

The PCC said the Guardian case was "resolved between the parties" and in the remaining cases "the commission ruled that the newspapers had offered a sufficient form of remedial action", as linked to above.

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