On 4 July 2013, at 10:30 am (GMT+5), we received a press release from the email firstname.lastname@example.org. The name of the sender was Rajan Zed. It was about a singer of Turkmenistan origin, aspiring to ‘hit the world dance floors with her songs.’
We published it in good faith. It was carried at our site at this URL: http://newscentralasia.net/2013/07/04/us-based-dance-pop-singer-shirin-of-turkmenistan-origins-aspires-to-hit-world-dance-floors-with-her-songs/
Since it is mandatory under journalism ethics to attribute the material to the source, we mentioned at the end of the story: [Press release, Rajan Zed, 4 July 2013]
However, in a few hours, we received an email from the same address and with the same sender name, asking us to remove the attribution to ‘Rajan Zed’ from the story. We replied that the attribution is to the source from which we received the press release and if they can give any other source, we will mention it.
In turn, the sender, presumably Rajan Zed or someone using that name and address, made some preposterous suggestions. The sender suggested that we should either remove the entire attribution line i.e. carry the story without any attribution, or just say that it is a press release without disclosing the source or say that it is ‘From A Correspondent.’ The sender wrote that if none of these ideas were acceptable to us, we should remove the story from our site.
We have complied with the request and removed the story from our site.
Nevertheless, this smells fishy. It is the first time that we have received such a strange request. The desire to remain anonymous while trying to promote a budding artist is indicative of some hidden motive.
For the sake of transparency, here is the email exchange that took place between nCa and the sender:
From: Rajan Zed [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Thursday, July 04, 2013 11:32 AM
Will you please remove “Rajan Zed” from the following:
[Press release, Rajan Zed, 4 July 2013]
On Thu, Jul 4, 2013 at 6:16 AM, nCa <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Hello Rajan Zed — We received this press release from you hence the attribution to you. If you can give some other source, we shall mention that.
[Tariq Saeedi, editor, nCa]
Dear Mr. Saeedi:
Thanks for your response.
Here are our requests (in order of preference):
1. Use it as a newsitem, without mentioning any of it—-[Press release, Rajan Zed, 4 July 2013]
2. Just mention the source like this—-[Press release, 4 July 2013]
3. Mention the source like this—-[From A Correspondent, 4 July 2013]
4. If you are unable to meet the requests mentioned in the above three, please remove the whole newsitem from the website (and any other places it is posted).
We appreciate your support.