How the media wrecked a reputation

A British journalist who was falsely accused of forging interviews for a book has revealed how the media helped to trash his reputation.

Michael Leidig won a libel case last year but has only just been allowed to publish the details of
his victory.

When Leidig wrote a book about Natascha Kampusch, the Austrian girl locked in a cellar for eight years until 2006, her family’s PR advisor, Rupert Leutgeb, issued a statement alleging that the book contained fabricated interviews.

The first Leidig knew about the claims was when he saw them on TV, and they were soon published “everywhere from the International Herald Tribune to Pravda,” he said.

“When I asked for a correction all the media that used the story refused,” said Leidig.

“Neither I or my publisher or my news agency ever had a single call to check the story. As they say, a lie is halfway round the world before the truth has got its boots on.”

Eventually the Austrian courts came down on Leidig’s side. It ordered PR man Leutgeb to pay the claimant’s legal costs and organise retractions in all of the publications that had carried the story.

This article appears in issue 250 of Media Digest.





“Before we all sink into a slough of digital dystopian despair, it might be worth considering this: is this a sign of the strength, not weakness, of revelatory journalism in the digital age?”

Charlie Beckett, director of POLIS at the London School of Economics, reacts to news that the UK government forced the Guardian into destroying hard drives that contained information leaked by Edward Snowden.

(Source: POLIS)


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