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Berkeley tragedy: Journalist 'saddened' to be associated with New York Times article


American ambassador to Ireland, Kevin O'Malley

American ambassador to Ireland, Kevin O'Malley

American ambassador to Ireland, Kevin O'Malley

A former Dublin City University lecturer who contributed to the controversial 'New York Times' story on the death of six students in Berkeley has said that he did not see the article before its publication.

Douglas Dalby is a regular contributor to the highly respected newspaper but has distanced himself from the article that has been criticised by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and the US Ambassador to Ireland Kevin O'Malley.

Mourners are leaving flowers, cards and other mementos at a makeshift memorial close to the apartment in Berkeley where six Irish students lost their lives yesterday morning.

Mr Dalby told the Irish Independent that he understood the article would paint a positive picture of the J1 experience.

Instead it claimed that the visa programme - which five of the Berkeley fatalities were travelling on - was "a source of embarrassment for Ireland, marked by a series of high-profile episodes involving drunken partying and the wrecking of apartments".

Mr Dalby was cited as one of six people who contributed to the piece but said it "saddens" him to be linked to it. "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," he said.

"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 said.

"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."

The Taoiseach yesterday joined the chorus of criticism while meeting David Cameron in Downing Street.

"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," he said.

"I was surprised at the 'New York Times,' such an eminent newspaper, to write an article like that."

The sister of one of the injured, Conor Flynn, has also written to the paper saying she is "absolutely appalled".

"I write this on the way to the airport with my crying mum, how dare you make our hurt any worse," Erin Flynn wrote.

Former President Mary 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 paper "made some pretty bad mistakes".

However, despite the outrage she said that the article is unlikely to be removed from the NYT website as it is not policy to take down published articles.

Irish Independent

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