Lancashire Evening Post took a story from their college newspaper despite pleas that they had given assurances the story would not go out of house.
Last Saturday’s front-page splash in the Post about a pregnant 12-year-old was followed up by the Daily Mail, Daily Express and The Sun.
Dale Haslam, editor of the tabloid Preston Journal, prepared as part of the students’ course, said his team were shocked to see the story in the evening paper after a visit to the college by the Post assistant editor Colin Clarke.
"He had asked if the Post could use the story and we all said, ‘No – it would be bad for the girl and her mother’. Our reporter had given assurances that they wouldn’t be named and that it wouldn’t go any further than an internal publication," said Haslam. Clarke took the Journal away and the Post ran the story.
Its editor, Simon Reynolds, believes he was in the right to publish and was robust in defence of Clarke.
"I’m absolutely 100 per cent happy with our coverage of this story. It wasn’t an off-the-record event," he said.
"The students produced a newspaper which has been published and, like any other publication, it is a source of news.
"Like all good journalists, when Colin came back to the office he said, ‘There’s a good story in this’. There was nothing unethical on our part.
"If the students have made agreements with the parties involved, then that’s for them. We followed the story up, had two reporters working on it and stood it up. We haven’t identified the parties.
"Student newspapers are as much a source of news stories as any other publication.
"It is not as if this is not a subject for public debate at the moment. It is.
"I would say to the students, ‘Well done – you have done really well to get the story’."
By Jean Morgan