The dark side of citizen journalism: The Sun and the bus driver libel case

In March last year The Sun ran a story painting a bus driver, Arunas Raulynaitis, as a Muslim fanatic. The story claimed:

1. That he ordered his passengers off the bus so that he could pray
2. That passengers saw a rucksack and feared he was a fanatic
3. That therefore passengers then refused to get back on the bus

The paper has just lost a libel case following this report, because as it turns out:

1. No passengers were ordered off
2. There was no rucksack
3. No-one refused to get back on the bus

So far, just another tale of a tabloid newspaper getting its story horribly wrong. But how did The Sun get its story? As The Guardian reports, quoting the driver’s lawyer:

It transpires that an individual who noticed Raulynaitis at prayer chose to film this act on a mobile phone and sent the video to the Sun, which then reproduced stills from it alongside the article, as well as the footage itself on the Sun’s website.

In other words: this was a case of citizen journalism going horribly wrong. Yes, someone saw something, became an instant-on-the-spot-journo, filmed it and got it up on a major website. But no, this wasn’t some great example of how the future should be.

Hat-tip: The Sun – Tabloid Lies.

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