Sunday, 16 October 2011

'Corrections must be given more prominence'

On 18 July 2011, Paul Dacre told a committee of MPs:

The PCC already has the right to place a correction or adjudication in a paper. Where it goes in the paper has to be agreed by the director of the Press Complaints Commission. It is one of the great myths of our time that newspapers somehow bury these things at the back of the book, as 80% of the corrections carried by newspapers are either on the same page as the original offending article or before that page.

Yet last week, when giving a speech at a public seminar organised by the Leveson Inquiry, Dacre said:

I believe corrections must be given more prominence. As from next week, the Daily Mail, the Mail on Sunday and Metro will introduce a "Corrections and Clarifications" column on page two of these papers.

If he now believes corrections 'must be given' more prominence, why did he claim only a few months ago it was 'one of the biggest myths of all time' that they are buried?

The decision to introduce these columns is to be welcomed although, as Steve Baxter pointed out, Dacre has been editor of the Daily Mail since 1992. Why has it taken so long?

But it's better late than never and it is quite a concession - especially given the start of Dacre's speech was given over the attacking the 'current furore over the press'. Yet this 'current furore' appears to have led Dacre to realise a corrections column would be a good idea.

So, today, the Mail on Sunday's first 'Corrections and clarifications' column was published. Here's the first item:

Last Sunday we said some 3,200 families of children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder were believed to have been given cars under the Motability scheme. In fact that total is the combined figure for two categories of recipients of the Higher Mobility component of the Disability Living Allowance and includes other behavioural disorders. Recipients choose whether or not to spend their allowance on a Motability car; generally about 30 per cent do so. Also, we described the qualification for the Lower Mobility component, rather than the Higher Mobility component required to claim a car, for which individuals must be declared virtually unable to walk. 

This article was originally debunked by Full Fact but, as they point out, the original article remains on MailOnline with no correction. The claims were also repeated by Littlejohn in his column on Tuesday. Will the Mail be correcting that too?

The next correction says:

Bath licensee Ashley Van Dyck points out that he did not support police use of an airport-style scanner to check people on a night out for knives and drugs. Our article of September 25 repeated a quote to the BBC by Mr Van Dyck, chairman of Bath Pubwatch, saying only that he welcomed extra police officers being deployed to curb anti-social behaviour.

The original article, again, still remains live and uncorrected.


On September 18 we published a photograph of Dr Angela Kikugawa, an assistant director at the UK Border Agency, competing at the Civil Service Sports Council Games at Loughborough University. Dr Kikugawa has asked us to clarify that she attended the games at her own expense and did not take part in any of the partying and other activities later in the evening.

This is in response to an article headlined: 'Paid to party on your tax: How civil servants were given time off work for drunken sports day hours after voting for a mass strike'. Again, the correction has not been added to the original story.

And finally, there's this:

Last week we printed the Union Flag incorrectly in a tea towel promotion. The thick white lines of the St Andrew’s Cross should have been above the red St Patrick’s Cross on one side of the flag and below it on the other.

Not something you'd imagine the Mail on Sunday is particularly happy to have got wrong - especially when the Mail has criticised others for the same error before. 

So while the column is a welcome addition, and it's refreshing to see articles corrected within a few weeks, MailOnline should still update the original articles to include the clarification.


  1. Prominence is more than just the page that the original article was published on. Corrections should take up as much space as the offending article - that way a double page spread distortion towards the front of the paper would cost the paper that much real estate in the next edition. I'm confident that they'd soon learn their lesson when readership drops - nobody wants to read a paper where the most prominent items are corrections and apologies.

    Still, this is effectively an admission by Dacre that if self-regulation of the press is to continue, papers have to be more accountable for publishing distortions and falsehood. This can only be a positive thing.

  2. A column?

    The Mail needs a whole extra edition every day to correct and clarify the mistakes it prints!

  3. But if they put the corrections on the website, they wouldn't be able to make people angry with their lies.


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