September 12, 2007
By Steve Bennedik, Editor, Sky News Networked Media
So are we being pro-McCann or anti-McCann?
Over the past few days we've been accused of being both. Some claim we are too kind and others believe we are too cruel.
Certainly from Sky New Online's perspective I believe we have been neither pro or anti the McCanns.
We have aimed to be fair. I can assure you there is no conspiracy, no dictated slant and no intention of taking sides.
Madeleine's disappearance and subsequent events have been emotional and sometimes distressing. We've taken an active part in reporting the story and doing what we can to help find her.
We've featured it prominently and given the story its own section on the site.
We've reflected the unprecedented interest in what has happened to this young girl. And you've given your views in your thousands on our Message Boards.
As our Deputy Head of News, Simon Cole, pointed out in the Editor's Blog in early August, the dilemma for Sky News has been how to satisfy the public hunger for news without adding to the speculation and myth-making that has been rife.
Admittedly, that hasn't been easy.
In terms of access, there has been an obvious imbalance. Until recently the McCanns have been eager to promote the story to keep it in the news. In the past, the local police have only reluctantly emerged from the confines of the Portuguese legal process.
Journalists are not a breed apart from the rest of the human race. We discuss events, amongst ourselves and with friends and families. On social occasions outside work we are sometimes turned to with the expectation we know the truth, the real story behind events.
The reality is in the McCann's case, we don't yet know what really happened, how she disappeared and whether she is dead.
We send journalists to cover the story and report events, we speak to people involved and we get information from sources. We make a decision on whether to report it and how we report it.
And then we go ahead and share it with you.
I think on this occasion there's a danger in seeing and judging coverage in isolation and out of context.
Journalism can lead and influence. But more often it gathers and reflects current perception, and yes, sometimes people's prejudices.
With this story, over the past weeks, we've tried very hard to concentrate on the facts. And that's our aim as we wait to see what happens next in Portugal and the UK.