DID THE TELEGRAPH MAKE UP STATISTICS ON THE PEOPLE’S VOTE MARCH ATTENDANCE?

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Last month, the Sunday Telegraph reported that it had received official information regarding the attendance of the People’s Vote march in London last October. Estimates on how many attended the march had varied, with organisers of the event giving figures of close to 700,000. Critics claimed the figure was much lower.

The Sunday Telegraph article aimed to put the subject to bed. Titled “People’s Vote march was attended by a third of number that organisers claimed, official estimate says”, it stated that the Greater London Authority (GLA) had produced a debrief document for Scotland Yard containing an estimated attendance of 250,000.

The article was reported on by a number of right-wing outlets including the Sunday Express and Breitbart who were quick to denounce the campaign for misleading voters and politicians.

Nothing about the Telegraph article seemed too obviously suspicious. It said that the figure had been obtained following a Freedom of Information request to the Metropolitan Police Service. Scotland Yard was quoted confirming the figure, adding that “this is not a Metropolitan Police Service estimate as we have not recorded an estimated attendance figure for the march.”

But this blog has since received confirmation from the Mayor of London office that no such debrief document exists. According to Ian Lister, Information Governance Manager at the GLA: “No debrief document was produced by the GLA and I can confirm that we do not hold any debrief document.”

Which begs the question – where did the Sunday Telegraph draw its statistic from? Has there been some confusion in the information relayed to the paper by Scotland Yard, or has the paper resorted to simply making up the figures?

The Metropolitan Police Service has been contacted for comment. For a balanced analysis on the People’s Vote march attendance, see this Full Fact report.

Don’t like what you’re seeing in the press? If you see an article you’re unhappy with, you can email the press regulators at inquiries@ipso.co.uk to voice your concerns. If enough complaints are received, they will have to look into it.

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.

 

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DAILY MAIL TOPS LIST OF IPSO OFFENDERS FOR THIRD YEAR RUNNING

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Picture: LSE

The Daily Mail has once again won the dubious award of being the most unreliable paper in Britain, having been sanctioned more times by press regulator IPSO than any other title.

The right-wing tabloid is the worst offender for the third year in a row, chalking up 28 offences in 2018. This puts it ten clear of The Times, which moves up three places to 2nd with 18 sanctions. The Sun stays at 3rd with 16, then the Daily Mirror with 10, the Daily Express and the Daily Telegraph with 7 each, and the Daily Star with 4.

Almost all of the offences involved inaccurate reporting. Four of the Mail’s and two of The Sun’s violations didn’t involve accuracy of reporting and were against other clauses of the Editors’ Code of Practice (e.g. invasion of privacy, harassment).

Although the Mail is the worst performer, it has improved on 2017 in terms of number of offences. Last year, the paper broke the rules 50 times. The bad news for the Rothermere-owned publication is that its total for this year would still have placed it first in both 2016 and 2017.

In terms of total number of sanctions, the top seven reached 90 between them across 2018. This is slightly better than 2017’s total of 115, but up on the 62 offences committed in 2016.

Perhaps the most notable thing about this year’s figures beyond the Daily Mail’s hat-trick of titles is the rise of The Times to second spot. Rupert Murdoch’s other big-selling daily is often overshadowed by The Sun when it comes to misreporting and dodgy journalism and is seen by some as a more respectable publication than the more popular tabloids. But the paper seems to have really come into its own as a bad performer over the last twelve months or so.

This has included high profile offences such as misreporting on the Tower Hamlets fostering case as well as a couple of inaccurate articles on transgender issues.

Back in 2016, The Times was only the 7th worst performing IPSO-regulated paper with only 3 sanctions against it. Last year it was up to 5th with 8 sanctions. This means that the paper is more than doubling the number of offences it’s committing year on year. It is the only paper that has grown consistently worse in terms of number of sanctions over the last three years.

This means that, although the Daily Mail tops the charts as an individual offender, the two big Murdoch-owned dailies (The Sun and The Times) combined have now overtaken the Mail with 34 sanctions to 28. Last year, the Mail committed twice as many violations as The Sun and The Times put together (50 to 25).

All in all, these statistics show that Britain’s mainstream press has a long way to go until it can hope to be seen as a trusted news source, having been ranked bottom of 33 European countries in a study on public trust in 2016. They also highlight how IPSO’s sanctions against inaccurate reporting are still not having much of an effect in terms of deterrence. While papers can get away with publishing a small correction notice buried away in the middle of the publication, or sneaked out at midnight on the website, there’s no real impetus for improvement. Perhaps it’s time for the regulator to show some teeth?

Examples of corrections in 2018

DAILY MAIL “ANOTHER HUMAN RIGHTS FIASCO”

Originally published on the front page on 15 December 2017. Following an IPSO ruling, the paper was made to run a corrections article in July 2018 on page 4 with a reference to the correction on the front page.

The paper reported in its front page story that an Iraqi man “caught red-handed with a bomb” had been awarded £33,000 in compensation “because our soldiers kept him in custody for too long”. In fact, the man in question was found not guilty and the reason he was awarded compensation was for unlawful and degrading treatment while in custody (he was beaten by guards) as well as unlawful detention.

THE TIMES “JUDGE RULES CHRISTIAN CHILD MUST LEAVE MUSLIM FOSTER HOME”

Originally published as a front page article on 30 August 2017, following articles on the same case that had been published on 28 and 29 August. Following an IPSO ruling, the paper issued a correction article in April 2018 on page 2 with a short reference to the correction on the front page.

The paper was found to have distorted the facts around a court case to have a foster child placed with her maternal grandmother. The article implied that the judge ruled to remove the Christian child from the Muslim foster carers and place her with her maternal grandmother due to the foster placement (arranged by Tower Hamlets Council) being culturally inappropriate. However, the foster placement was only a temporary arrangement until council assessments on the grandmother had been completed.

THE SUN “BELLFIELD IN PRISON SAUSAGE LAW FIGHT”

Article originally published on 22 April 2018. Correction issued after IPSO mediation on 17 June 2018.

Running with the sub-heading “Fury as prison bosses served non-Halal sausages to Levi Bellfield and other prison lags”, the story claimed that killer Bellfield, who had converted to Islam and changed his name to Yusuf Rahim, had been served pork sausages and was considering taking legal action because of this. But the story was found to be false when prison menu cards revealed that Bellfield had not even ordered sausages.

DAILY MIRROR “ACCENT STUDY BLEW £34K”

Article originally published on 9 September 2018. Correction issued after IPSO mediation.

The article claimed that a study by Havant and South Downs College had spent £34k of a lottery grant on researching into the origins of the Portsmouth accent but had found nothing. In fact, research into the accent origins formed only part of the study. The money was also spent on funding general student research into local history.

DAILY EXPRESS “OXFORD CIRCUS: POLICE RESPONDING LIKE TERROR ATTACK AS OXFORD STREET GUNMAN RUNS AMOK”

Originally published on the express.co.uk website on 24 November 2017. Headline changed after 15 minutes to “London terror: Oxford Street shoppers told ‘stay inside’ as police respond like terror attack”. Following an IPSO investigation, a corrections footnote was added to the article on 23 February 2018.

Following an incident around Oxford Circus in November 2017, the paper published online breaking news coverage stating that a gunman was loose on Oxford Street and that shots had been fired. This was based on unsubstantiated rumours, and 20 minutes later the police issued an official statement saying there was no evidence of any shots being fired.

*The Daily Mail is used here to include the Daily Mail, the Mail on Sunday and the Mail Online. Likewise, the Daily Express is used to include the Daily Express, the Sunday Express and the Express Online, and so on. 

**IPSO rulings include both breaches of the Editors’ Code of Practice, where no agreement between the parties can be reached and IPSO has to intervene, and Resolution Statements, where the publication admits it has breached the code and offers to make a statement/concession that is to the satisfaction of the complainant. 

***IPSO (Independent Press Standards Organisation) is the national press regulator for the majority of the mainstream press publications in the UK. There are some publications (e.g. The Guardian, The Independent) that chose not to sign up when IPSO was created in 2014. 

****All figures were taken on 1 January 2019. 

Don’t like what you’re seeing in the press? If you see an article you’re unhappy with, you can email the press regulators at inquiries@ipso.co.uk to voice your concerns. If enough complaints are received, they will have to look into it.

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.

THE TABLOIDS PRINT DUBIOUS STORY ABOUT TOMMY ROBINSON FAN SUPPOSEDLY THROWN OUT OF COLLEGE CLASS

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The tabloid press has given credence to a highly suspicious story about a student in Crewe who claims she was told to leave a class after she expressed support for Tommy Robinson.

Alissa Cook-Gray, 17, says she was asked to leave and given a “final warning for being too right wing” on her first day attending an arts course at Total People. She decided to quit the course after just over an hour of lessons.

Although she left voluntarily, Alissa then contacted the local press to tell them that she felt she was hounded out of the class for being “too right wing” and was “terrified” to return. The story has since been picked up by the Mirror, the Daily Mail and The Sun. However, there are a couple of holes in the story.

Firstly, she claims that the class teacher said “get out, we don’t want people with your views” after she spoke out in favour of Robinson. But she then remained in the class for a (rather convenient) conversation about who everybody’s favourite person was – where apparently she was the only Tommy Robinson fan among a sea of Corbynites.

She then says that the teacher offered to have a word with the other students after she felt they were ganging up on her. Presumably the same teacher who only moments earlier had rudely shouted at her to get out?

Secondly, it seems rather unlikely that a student would be given a ‘final warning’ less than an hour into the first lesson. Aren’t final warnings reserved for repeat offenders as a last resort before taking action? Surely the process for anyone stepping out of line would be a couple of verbal warnings and then a written warning before any measures were taken.

Yet we are supposed to believe, based purely on the girl’s testimony, that the teacher went straight for the ‘final warning’ as a first step, while kicking her out of the class at the same time.

The papers report that Alissa’s dad Gareth was left “absolutely fuming” about the whole episode. Surprise, surprise, it turns out that he is a “big fan” of Robinson himself, referring to him as a “legend”.

Of course, the story can’t be completely dismissed as untrue for certain but, based as it is on one person’s rather shaky account of proceedings that would involve a very bizarre sequence of events, it doesn’t seem likely. A far more likely scenario is that she was involved in a disagreement over political ideology with her classmates and decided she just didn’t want to continue on a course with people she disagreed with. Given that her dad was also very keen to offer his views in the article, it’s likely that he encouraged her to contact the local press and the two of them decided to spin a story along the lines of “I was kicked out by a lefty teacher”.

This is, of course, conjecture. But remember that Alissa wasn’t actually sanctioned at all. It was entirely her decision to quit the course.

You would think that journalists with any critical thinking skills whatsoever might analyse this girl’s shaky account of what happened and dig a little deeper to get to the bottom of things, rather than just blindly parroting her strange version of events. But it seems that those writing for newspapers, both local and national, are far more interested in creating clickbait content these days.

But what they are actually doing is far more worrying. Not only are they feeding into the great Stephen Yaxley-Lennon PR machine, fuelling his much-loved (and laughable) narrative of being the nation’s biggest and most-silenced victim whose supporters dare not even mention his made-up name. They are also propagating the popular far-right trope that students are brainwashed into left-wing thinking by doctrinaire authoritarian teachers.

The sad fact is that more and more people are starting to believe that this sort of thing is true. This kind of irresponsible reporting will only make things worse.

Don’t like what you’re seeing in the press? If you see an article you’re unhappy with, you can email the press regulators at inquiries@ipso.co.uk to voice your concerns. If enough complaints are received, they will have to look into it.

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.

IPSO UPHOLDS COMPLAINT AGAINST DAILY MAIL ON IRAQ COMPENSATION CLAIMS

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The following is taken from the correction the Daily Mail had to print following the IPSO ruling on its front page article “Another Human Rights Fiasco!” last December. Although the apology appeared on the front page in print, it hasn’t been published on the Mail Online website, so here it is in full. 

Shoaib Khan complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) that the Daily Mail breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice, in an article headlined “Another Human Rights Fiasco”, published on 15 December 2017.

The article reported a High Court judgment, awarding compensation to an Iraqi man for unlawful imprisonment and ill treatment by British soldiers, during the Iraq War. It was the main story on the front page, and continued on page 4. The front page subheadline was: “Iraqi ‘caught red-handed with bomb’ wins £33,000 – because our soldiers kept him in custody for too long”. The first line reported that “taxpayers face massive compensation bills after a suspected Iraqi insurgent won a human rights case against the Ministry of Defence yesterday”.

The complainant said that the judge had found that the claims that this man had been caught “red handed” with a bomb, or that he was an ‘insurgent’, to be false.  He also said that he was not awarded £33,000 for being “kept in custody for too long”. He was awarded £3,300 for unlawful detention, and a further £30,000 for being beaten at the time of his arrest, and inhuman and degrading treatment when in custody.

The newspaper said that it had relied on the court’s press summary of the judgment, which did not include the finding that these claims were false. It said the article did not suggest the man was still suspected of being a terrorist or bomb maker; it fully explained that he had been unlawfully detained, as it could not be proven he was a threat to security. It said that the full explanation of the damages award was included elsewhere in the article, which had to be read as a whole. In response to complaints, the newspaper published two clarifications on these points in its page 2 corrections column. The complainant said that the inaccuracies were significant, that they had appeared on the front page, and that the correction should be published on the front page.

IPSO’s Complaints Committee said that central to the article’s characterisation of the judgment as a “fiasco” was the front-page subheadline’s description of one of the claimants as an “Iraqi ‘caught red-handed with bomb’”, and the reference to it being case where “a suspected Iraqi insurgent” had “won a human rights case”. However, the article never explained that the claim he had been caught with a bomb had been discredited shortly after his detention, or that the judge had found the claim was “pure fiction”, and that there was no evidence that the man had engaged in insurgent activity. These details were in the full judgment, which was available to the newspaper.  The repetition of these serious allegations against the man, with no indication they had been disproven, seriously misrepresented the judgment, and breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code.

The claim that the Iraqi man received “£33,000 – because our soldiers kept him in custody for too long”, was inaccurate. As the newspaper knew, only £3,300 was for unlawful detention; the remaining £30,000 was for ill treatment. The contrast the article drew between the Iraqi man’s damages, and the payments to British soldiers for injuries, was therefore based in part on an inaccuracy. This was a further failure to take care over the accuracy of the article.

Both these errors were serious and significant in the article. The previously published corrections did not directly acknowledge the errors, and were not prominent enough. The Committee required publication of this adjudication as a remedy, with a reference on the front page of the newspaper.

Don’t like what you’re seeing in the press? If you see an article you’re unhappy with, you can email the press regulators at inquiries@ipso.co.uk to voice your concerns. If enough complaints are received, they will have to look into it.

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.

IPSO UPHOLDS CRIME VICTIMS’ COMPLAINT AGAINST DAILY MAIL NEWSPAPER

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*The following is a republishing of a correction in the Daily Mail and on the Mail Online, 25th May 2018. 

Warwickshire Police complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation on behalf of three people that the conduct of a journalist acting on behalf of The Daily Mail breached Clause 2 (Privacy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice. The complaint was upheld, and IPSO has required the Daily Mail to publish this decision as a remedy to the breach.

The complainants represented three individuals who had given evidence as victims in a criminal case concerning allegations of non-recent sex offences.

The complainants alleged that during the course of the trial, the journalist’s enquiries had identified them as victims of sexual assault, and had intruded into their privacy.

The first and second victims said that a reporter had attended their friend’s home in order to ask him about the [perpetrators’] case. The friend said that the journalist had shown him a list of names, and he had recognised their names, as well as the names of their parents. He had then told their parents what had happened. Before this, they had been unaware that they were victims in the case.

The third victim said that the reporter had told their parents that he was seeking a ‘victim’s story’, had referred to the court case, and had asked if they could contact their child. The third victim said that this enquiry identified them as a victim of sexual assault to their parents.

The newspaper said that its freelance journalist contacted the friend of the first and second victims because he had believed that the friend had direct involvement in the case. The friend had said that he would ‘know those involved’, and the journalist had asked whether he knew the second individual, and he had confirmed that he knew victims one and two. At no stage had the journalist deliberately shown him the list of victims connected to the criminal case, which he had in his possession; any disclosure had been inadvertent.

The newspaper did not accept that the journalist had told the parents of victim three that they were seeking a ‘victim’s story’ or that their child was an alleged victim of a sexual offence. The journalist had said that he was hoping to get in touch with their child as he understood that he ‘might have been involved’ in the criminal case, or known those who were.

While the newspaper did not consider that its representatives had breached the Code, it said that it had raised the concerns with those involved and with senior executives. It also offered to write a private letter of apology to the victims, and to make a charitable donation.

The Committee considered that the reporter should have been acutely aware that, in contacting third parties about the complainants, there was a risk that he would identify them as victims. He had identified the well-known, local criminal case he was researching, and said that he was looking for named individuals who had been ‘involved in the case’. Reporting of the case had explained the nature of the crimes, where they had taken place, and the profile of the victims. In this context, to identify the complainants by name as ‘involved in the case’ made clear that they were, or were likely to have been, victims, particularly given that they fitted the general descriptions of the victims that had previously been reported. They had been identified to their parents, as a result of the enquiries.

The fact of their involvement in the case as potential victims was extremely sensitive and personal information about which the three individuals had a reasonable expectation of privacy. This represented a gross intrusion into their private lives in breach of Clause 2. While there was a public interest in carrying out enquiries in order to report on the criminal case, this did not justify disclosing such private information to third parties without consent. The complaint under Clause 2 was upheld.

Don’t like what you’re seeing in the press? If you see an article you’re unhappy with, you can email the press regulators at inquiries@ipso.co.uk to voice your concerns. If enough complaints are received, they will have to look into it.

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.

 

THE TRUTH ABOUT THE DAILY MAIL: TWO-THIRDS OF ASSESSED ARTICLES BREAK THE RULES ON PRESS STANDARDS

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*NEARLY TWO-THIRDS OF DAILY MAIL ARTICLES WERE FOUND TO BREAK IPSO GUIDELINES, ANALYSIS FINDS 

*IN ONE YEAR, 63 PERCENT OF ARTICLES ASSESSED DIDN’T PASS REGULATOR STANDARDS

 

Well, actually, that’s manipulating the data a little bit. What I’m talking about is articles that IPSO received complaints about. Two-thirds of the complaints were upheld.

I’m just using the Daily Mail‘s own sensationalist reporting techniques on the paper itself. On Monday this week, a similar style headline appeared about a report on child refugees (below).

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The headline and the sub-headers are focused only on those who were given age assessments because they looked like they might be over 18 and didn’t have any proof of age. It’s not the percentage of overall child refugees. That figure is around 13 percent (or 402 out of the 2952 applications, to be precise).

But the way that the Daily Mail has included the figure of ‘almost 3,000’ next to the words ‘two-thirds’, without making things clear, will probably have a lot of readers thinking that around 2,000 ‘bogus’ child refugees are coming here every year.

So I’ve been similarly manipulative. My headline relates to 55 complaints made about Daily Mail articles between April 2017 and April 2018. Of those articles, 35 were either ruled as breaching IPSO standards or were settled by a resolution statement before a ruling was given. The remaining 20 were passed as ‘clean’ by the regulators.

But I can see that by reading the headline and the sub-headers, people might think that two-thirds of all Daily Mail articles are breaking the rules.

Perhaps they might feel the urge to share the article on social media and generate faux-outrage based on something that is essentially a gross distortion of the truth.

It’s a bit naughty but I think I can live with it. If I get caught out, I’m more than happy to issue a very low-key correction on the whole thing in about 6 months time.

 

Don’t like what you’re seeing in the press? If you see an article you’re unhappy with, you can email the press regulators at inquiries@ipso.co.uk to voice your concerns. If enough complaints are received, they will have to look into it.

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.

 

 

 

 

 

TABLOIDS LAUNCH ATTACK ON SCHOOLS FOR TRYING TO REDUCE POVERTY

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Britain’s tabloid press piled into Brighton & Hove council over the holiday weekend for adopting an initiative to tackle poverty in schools.

The Mail on Sunday, The Sun, The Sunday Express and the Daily Star all covered the story using the same angle, accusing the council of ‘political correctness’ and focusing on something that’s not even part of the initiative.

The tabloids were covering a scheme called Poverty Proofing The School Day, a programme set up by a charity called Children North East which works with local authorities across the country to remove barriers to learning caused by poverty.

The programme has been running since 2011 and has been successful in improving both attendance and attainment of children from families living in poverty, as well as increasing access to music tuition and school trips, and helping to reduce school costs.

Brighton & Hove council began piloting the programme last year and it has involved 25 primary schools to date. Areas of focus have included keeping school trips affordable, supporting children and families with homework, and making sure that children have access to affordable uniforms.

Nothing particularly outrageous about any of this, you might think.

However, the tabloids have chosen to kick up a storm about one bullet-point from a list of 22 items in an ’emerging areas for consideration’ section of a council report.

This is just a list of things researchers suggested ‘could be seen to negatively impact on children and young people living in poverty’. Things such as not being able to bring in the latest game on the last day of term, or parents struggling to supply raffle prizes for school events.

One thing highlighted in this list was ‘circle time about weekend activities’. Basically, when kids group together in class on a Monday and talk about what they did at the weekend.

It was simply mentioned in one line of this report that some of the schools had given feedback that poorer kids sometimes felt excluded if other kids had been up to exciting activities over the weekend that they couldn’t afford. Therefore it was marked down as an ‘area for consideration’.

Just something to think about. Nothing that actually features anywhere in the actual plan.

This didn’t stop the tabloids from writing as if this was the central idea to the whole project.

‘DON’T TELL THE CLASS WHAT YOU DID AT THE WEEKEND, CHILDREN… BECAUSE IT MIGHT STIGMATISE POORER PUPILS, SAYS BRITAIN’S MOST POLITICALLY CORRECT COUNCIL’, screamed the Daily Mail‘s headline. The paper added that Brighton and Hove council are ‘set to bar children from asking about each other’s weekend’.

The Sun waded in with ‘MP BLASTS COUNCIL’S PC BAN ON ASKING CHILDREN ABOUT THEIR WEEKENDS’. The paper quoted an outraged Tory MP – there always seems to be at least one on hand to talk to the right-wing papers – and lied that ‘teachers have been banned from asking pupils what they did at the weekend.’

Meanwhile the Daily Star – which has been pumping out fact-free articles for a number of years now – proclaimed ‘CHILDREN BANNED FROM TALKING ABOUT THEIR WEEKENDS’, adding that this was the ‘nanny state taken to new heights’.

The Express put its twist on the story with ‘WELL-OFF PUPILS TOLD: DON’T BRAG AS DISADVANTAGED CLASSMATES MIGHT FEEL ASHAMED’ before going on to stick the boot into the council for being ‘politically correct’.

Unfortunately, these papers got so caught up in huffing and puffing about what’s not happening that they failed to mention any of the actual contents of the programme anywhere in their reports.

Who said Britain’s tabloid press likes to get outraged over nothing, eh?

Don’t like what you’re seeing in the press? If you see an article you’re unhappy with, you can email the press regulators at inquiries@ipso.co.uk to voice your concerns. If enough complaints are received, they will have to look into it.

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.