A correction issued by the Guardian newspaper has gone viral, as readers around the country ask themselves: ‘Was a single thing in this article actually true?’
The correction was picked up by The Poke after being retweeted over 1,000 times in less than an hour by perplexed readers:
The most spectacular correction in newspaper history? Was anything in this Guardian article correct? pic.twitter.com/1xfKtskFqL
— James Cornish (@cornishop) March 5, 2016
That is an awful lot to get wrong in a single article.
In the likely event that original readers missed this correction, it’s fair to say they would probably be less informed about the issue at play than had they not read the original piece at all.
This might not be the end of the world when it comes to a review of the life of David Astor, but when it comes to issues like the welfare debate, the NHS, the integrity of our politicians, elections, and international conflict – it is sometimes, literally, a matter of life and death.
One example would be that of The Sun, which was forced to apologise by the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) for a ‘significantly misleading’ story on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. The original story was laid out by this front page:
As it turned out, the story was nonsense. The IPSO Complaints Committee ruled that “it was significantly misleading to claim, as fact, that Labour’s access to Short money (either the £6.2m, or the £777,538.48) was conditional on Mr Corbyn’s joining the Privy Council; the two were not directly connected.”
The Sun responded with the tiniest possible apology. Can you spot it?
Another example that had much wider and more serious repercussions in recent times, was the UK media coverage of Israeli armed forces attacking an international aid ship destined for Gaza, killing 9 people on board, and injuring 40.
Viewers of ITV, Sky News and the BBC were repeatedly (and almost exclusively) shown Israeli propaganda footage, and an Israeli spokesperson delivering their tailored message on the event. Consequently, they were left with the impression that people on the ship somehow initiated the attack, and the victims of this brutal and unnecessary assault were portrayed as the perpetrators. This was highlighted expertly by veteran journalist John Pilger in his film The War You Don’t See.
A clip of The War You Don’t See which captures the Gaza Flotilla incident and the ongoing issue of biased coverage on Israel-Palestine
Making mistakes is human, and inevitable. But there is a problem when media organisations fail to make their apologies and corrections at the same volume they made their mistakes.
One way we have sought to address this at The Canary, is that whenever we make a mistake, we update the original article itself with an apology and a correction. We also pin that post, with the correction in capital letters, to the top of our Facebook page for 48 hours. We hope that by doing this, the maximum possible number of our readers see the mistake we made and have it corrected. This is by no means perfect, and we wanted to take this opportunity to ask you how we might improve on this. So please do use the comments section to give us extra ideas of how we might continue to deal with the inevitable problem of journalistic mistakes.
Featured Image via Twitter
We need your help ...
The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.
Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.
We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.
Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?