A REPORTER who contributed to the New York Times story about the Berkeley tragedy has said it “saddens” him to be linked to it.
Douglas Dalby, a former DCU lecturer who was among the journalists who contributed to the article, said last night he didn’t see the finished story before it was published.
He said he had understood it would paint a positive picture of the J1 visa experience.
However, the story had claimed that the visa programme – which five of the students who died were travelling on – was ‘a source of embarrassment for Ireland’.
The article referenced a series of high-profile episodes involving drunken partying and the wrecking of apartments in places such as San Francisco and Santa Barbara.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny and former President Mary McAleese are among the prominent voices to criticise the story amid claims it was insensitive.
Mr Dalby was cited as one of six people who contributed to the piece.
“As a regular contributor to The New York Times from Ireland, I was asked to talk to some people who had been on the J1.
“Those I spoke with echoed my personal experience of the programme, which was hugely positive.
“I didn’t see the article prior to publication and it saddens me to be associated with it,” he told the Herald.
“In fairness, I believe much of the understandable anger here arises because people expect so much better from the New York Times and in this regard it certainly failed to live up to anything like its usual standards.”
Mr Kenny yesterday joined the chorus of
criticism for the piece, which remains on the New York Times website.
He said the coverage was “very disappointing” and “surprising”.
“This is a tragic incident and I was very disappointed to see the tone of the article written by the New York Times, and surprised at them,” Mr Kenny said.
“I was surprised at the New York Times, such an eminent newspaper, to write an article like that.
“They know well the impact and the value of J1 visas, the extraordinary opportunity it gives to so many thousands of Irish students over the years,
to go to America and
understand the bigger world out there and the excitement it creates,” Mr Kenny added.
Ms McAleese described it as “journalism at the absolute worst end of the spectrum, indescribably constructed in every way”.
New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan admitted that the article was in poor taste.
“I think the New York Times made some pretty bad mistakes with this story and, yes, I think it
was insensitive and not handled properly,” Ms
She said that it is unlikely to be removed from the website as it is not the paper’s policy to take down articles once they have been published.