The New York Times has come under fire today for their coverage of the tragic balcony collapse that occurred in UC Berkeley in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
The event resulted in the death of 5 Irish students, all of whom were 21 years old. Their names were Eoghan Culligan, Nick Schuster, Lorcán Miller, Eimear Walsh and Olivia Burke.
22 year old Ashley Donohoe, who had dual Irish-American citizenship, was also killed. She was the cousin of another victim, Olivia Burke.
A further 7 students, aged between 20 and 22, were admitted to hospital, with some of their conditions being described as ‘critical’ and ‘life-changing’.
In an article published by the New York Times, which is internationally recognised as one of the most prestigious newspapers in the world, the tragedy was used as a launchpad for a shockingly unsympathetic rant against Irish students travelling to the United States on J1 visas.
After describing Irish students as “raucous” in the opening sentence, the article goes on to describe the J1 programme as “a source of embarrassment for Ireland”. No mention of the devastating loss of life is made until the fourth paragraph.
After quoting several political figures, including Enda Kenny and the Irish Consul to the Western United States, the article quickly redirects its attention to previous negative publicity that has surrounded Irish J1 students in the past. The authors, who make little attempt to veil their anti-Irish sentiment, cite an unrelated incident from last year where a number of Irish students trashed a house in San Francisco’s Sunset District, as well as stating that the noise created by the students in question prevented one woman from sleeping.
The article itself was written by 3 separate journalists, and does not offer sympathy or condolences at any point. It has been heavily criticised by politicians, the public, and other news outlets.
The newspaper’s public editor, Margaret Sullivan, has said that she is aware of the article and “will look into it today”.
Sincere sympathy to all affected by #Berkeley tragedy. Please know that I am aware of reaction and will look into it today.
— Margaret Sullivan (@Sulliview) June 17, 2015