Editor of criticised tabloid: “We will not stop being journalists”

Criticised for how it covered the kidnapping ordeal of two Danes in Somalia, Ekstra Bladet urges its readers to skip forced apology

The tabloid Ekstra Bladet printed a second cover on its back page today after it was forced to print a criticism from Pressenævnet, the press council, on its cover.

Pressenævnet “strongly criticised” Ekstra Bladet and TV2 News for their coverage of the kidnapping of Captain Eddy Lopez and his shipmates by Somalian pirates in 2011.

Lopez spent 838 days in captivity with fellow Dane Søren Lygnbjørn and four Filipino crew mates after their ship, MV Leopard, was hijacked in the Indian Ocean.

READ MORE: Tabloid and TV news outlet headed historic judgement in pirate case

Life put in danger
After 536 days in captivity, Ekstra Bladet campaigned to have the hostages released, but Lopez said that his life was put in danger when the tabloid and TV2 News sent journalists to cover the story from Somalia.

Pressenævnet supported Lopez’s complaint, saying that the media outlets were wrong to run interviews conducted with Lopez while he was held by armed pirates because Lopez could not have spoken freely or given his consent to have the interview published.

Pressenævnet argued that the outlets could have covered the story without publishing private information about Lopez without his consent.

READ MORE: Former pirate hostage slams ‘humiliating’ media coverage

Editor: We would do it again
At a press conference yesterday, Ekstra Bladet's editor-in-chief, Poul Madsen, said that while he recongised that the tabloid had made errors, the ruling wouldn’t influence how it tackles future stories.

“In no way will it stop us from writing stores that politicians and others don’t want us to,” Madsen said according to Politiken newspaper, adding that he was sad that Lopez felt his privacy had been violated. “We will try to be better at handling violations of privacy in the future, but we will not stop being journalists who cover a case that others are avoiding.”

READ MORE: Danish hostages freed after more than two years in captivity

Second cover
Ekstra Bladet was required to fill two-thirds of its cover today with a headline reporting that the tabloid was “strongly criticised” by Pressenævnet.

While it followed the ruling, Ekstra Bladet printed a second cover on the back page. 

Beside the front-page headline displaying Pressenævnet’s criticisms, a second headline told readers that “the paper should be read backwards today”.

The above tweet from Madsen today translates as: "I am still the editor of @EkstraBladet – which is why we are printing two 'covers' today'"