Monday, January 16, 2012

Bloomberg Responds to Petition Campaign through Editorial

Clarisse, the 13-year old girl at the center of the investigation
© Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

On December 15th, Bloomberg's reporter, Cam Simpson and his editors broke a story accusing Fairtrade International of forced child labour on Fairtrade certified organic cotton farms in Burkina Faso (Victoria’s Secret Revealed in Child Picking Burkina Faso Cotton).  In response both Fairtrade International and Limited Brands (Victoria's Secret) conducted investigations and published their findings on January 3rd and 4th:


Investigation Uncovers Inaccuracies in Bloomberg Article

Following these press releases, I initiated a campaign to petition Bloomberg Media for retracting the story if a third-party found the story to be untrue (Read: Take Direct Action with Bloomberg Media!).  The campaign was successful in generating a response from Bloomberg in an editorial on January 14th:

In the editorial Bloomberg reaffirms their stance, presents the complications related to the age of the girl through birth certificate verifications, offers a link to the October 5th interview with Clarisse's mother, presents threats to their reporters, and suggests linkages regarding Fairtrade International chief executive, Rob Cameron stepping down and the December 15th story. In other words, there is a lot for Fairtrade International to account for.  

Bloomberg also provides a more in-depth account of getting the story:

Within hours of the editorial being published, I sent links and an inquiry to the relevant people in Fairtrade International. Much to my disappointment, to this date there has been no press release from Fairtrade International concerning this issue, nor have I received any further information from them despite repeated inquiries.

For this reason I am suspending the campaign on Bloomberg Media until further information comes available. Out of concern for the finding the truth in this matter, I will publish any further information I receive on my blog.  

Mitch Teberg, MA
Sustainable Development / Fair Trade
Researcher / Trainer / Consultant

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