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Air traffic controller blogger drops press complaint following Irish Mail on Sunday apology

In January we reported how blogger Melanie Schregardus, an air traffic controller in Shannon, lodged a complaint and sought legal advice when the Irish Mail on Sunday reported, alongside her photograph, that she had ‘lifted the lid’ on a ‘den of male chauvinists’ in her workplace; a story she strongly disputed.

In a lengthy statement in January the newspaper defended its treatment of the story without apology.

But after Schregardus took the matter to the Irish Press Council, the newspaper agreed to print an apology. On Sunday February 21, it published this, on page 4:

In our edition of January 24, we published an article based on the contents of a blog written by Melanie Schregardus, an air traffic controller in Shannon.

The Irish Mail on Sunday was critical of the behaviour of her male colleagues, as described by Ms Schregardus in her blog, and labelled this behaviour as ‘sexist’.

Ms Schregardus has asked us to point out that our interpretation of her remarks does not reflect her personal views.

While the Irish Mail on Sunday did contact Ms Schregardus prior to publication to ask for an interview in relation to the controllers’ industrial action of the previous week, it was not made clear to her during those contacts that there was a proposed article that would focus on the contents of her blog. This error was a breach of our own policy and is deeply regretted.

Thus while the Irish Mail on Sunday stands over its story, we would nevertheless like to apologise to Ms Schregardus for not informing her in advance that we planned to report on her blog.

Ms Schregardus has asked us to point out that she is very happy and fulfilled in her job, and that her colleagues, both male and female, are of the highest calibre as fellow workers and personal friends.

Schregardus has written more about the process on her blog.

While she says she is unhappy that she did not see the final version of the apology before it was printed, she will now drop her complaint:

After some further discussion and reflection, my family and I decided to accept this clarification as the end of the matter. After all, the Mail had been forced to apologise and clarify, warned about its conduct, and the journalist in question had been disciplined.

She also commends her readers’ support following the article, and the influence of online users in challenging mainstream media reports:

As many people read my original blogpost as actually buy the Mail on Sunday every weekend, and that’s thanks to all of you who helped get my side of the story out there. I’m not one for big reflections on the world, but it seems to me that we are reaching a point where – thanks to the power of the internet – the media have to think twice before pursuing an ordinary person, and that’s a good thing.

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