Saturday, 24 July 2010

'We made no attempt to check the accuracy of the story before publication'

It seems the lawyers at Rockstar Games did get in touch with the Daily Star over their obviously untrue story (by Jerry Lawton) about a 'Grand Theft Auto: Rothbury' video game, based on the case of Raoul Moat.

Here's the very swift, and unusually long, apology, published today:

ROCKSTAR GAMES - GRAND THEFT AUTO - AN APOLOGY

On 21 July we published an article claiming that the video games company Rockstar Games were planning to release a version of their popular Grand Theft Auto video games series titled “Grand Theft Auto Rothbury”.

We also published what we claimed would be the cover of this game, solicited comments from a family member impacted by the recent tragedy and criticised Rockstar Games for their alleged plans.

We made no attempt to check the accuracy of the story before publication and did not contact Rockstar Games prior to publishing the story. We also did not question why a best selling and critically acclaimed fictional games series would choose to base one of their most popular games on this horrifying real crime event.

It is now accepted that there were never any plans by Rockstar Games to publish such a game and that the story was false. We apologise for publishing the story using a mock-up of the game cover, our own comments on the matter and soliciting critical comments from a grieving family member.

We unreservedly apologise to Rockstar Games and we have undertaken not to repeat the claims again. We have also agreed to pay them a substantial amount in damages which they are donating to charity.

The admission that they 'made no attempt to check the accuracy of the story before publication' is a damning one.

But is anyone surprised?

(Hat-tip to the anonymous comment person here)

26 comments:

  1. It sounds like Rockstar wrote that apology for the Daily Star and forced them to publish it.

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  2. I notice that in the link beneath the apology, the word 'news'is in inverted commas.

    Says all you need to know, really.

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  3. Whatever happened to fact checking and the standard of three confirmations before printing a story? These are the rules I learned in journalism school. Without them news becomes anything that anyone makes up or gossip or imagination telling fairy tales or worse, perceptual distortions designed to slant opinion with no solid information behind it.

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  4. no apology to the grieving family member they solicited a "critical comments from" and presumably caused trauma for.

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  5. The outrageous thing is that a newspaper can publish a story that it must know full well isn't true and no one is especially surprised.

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  6. Sickening, really. As both a gamer and a journalist, I get tired of this circus every time a tragedy occurs.

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  7. I cannot believe this story was published.After the Derrick Bird shootings in West Cumbria the internet was swamped by "trolls" posting things like this,GTA Cumbria,COD Derrick Bird etc.I know some of the games are contraversial but nobody in their right mind would believe that a major video games manufacturer would publish a game so insensitive,so how the hell can they.

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  8. Its good to know that Channel Five will be in such good hands.

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  9. It's no surprise though is it? Objectivity, fact-checking, balance and truthfulness are not standards associated with tabloid journalism. It will happen again, and again, and again...

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  10. Methinks Rockstar may have mentioned something about courts, judges and a large pile of money, or an apology and a small pile of money. The Star picked the sensible option. Of course the even more sensible option would have been to get their facts straight first. But then they wouldn't be the Star would they?

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  11. As another poster said, I think the apology should be given to the family member they unnecessarily distressed. I hope she sues the living daylights out of them for the distress caused as well.

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  12. @lakey

    Got it in one.

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  13. I also heard the Alien vs Predator people are planning on making AVP: Bird vs. Moat.

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  14. Flies in the face of everything you're taught, they've just ripped up, set fire and pi**ed all over McNae's! As someone who has worked in local journalism for many years and now works in PR, there's no wonder I have such an uphill battle in trying to defend the industy.

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  15. The problem is what happens when the "victim" doesn't have the money and legal backing of a company like Rockstar Games?

    Nothing.

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  16. The Star is the smear stained toilet paper of the tabloids; Desmond is one of the nastiest media owners of all times - remember his "hilarious" Nazi meeting with the Telegraph? And now he owns Five. Jeez.

    Now, more than ever the PCC needs to be scrapped and replaced with a robust organisation that can financially punish these type of made up stories as the Star, Express et al show how self-regulation has not just failed but is a very unfunny joke.

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  17. Oh dear. Well they only have themselves to blame and comletely agree that it sounds as though Rockstar wrote that and told the Star to run it.

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  18. I find it amusing that the put a link to more 'news' in inverted commas at the bottom of their apology.

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  19. "made no attempt to check the accuracy of the story" still implies they actually beleived the story to be true when they wrote it but were just lazy. Such a level of incompetence would seem unlikely

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  20. Welcome to the UK newspaper industry. The only unusual thing about this story is that the people defamed by it actually made the effort to sue. Most stories in most tabloids are false, we just never see apologies printed as most of the people written about don't bother / can't afford to sue.

    Print is dead.

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  21. "Such a level of incompetence would seem unlikely" but hardly impossible or indeed improbable in this world of A Rock Star Ate My Hamster journalism. (Showing my age there I think. :D)

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  22. You may (Or may not) be interested in my take on the story, here: http://chrisspann.blogspot.com/2010/07/grand-theft-apology.html

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  23. Surprised? no
    Pleased? yes

    Though I guess (i don't know) the apology will probably be the size of a postage stamp and be relegated to the arse end of the paper.

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  24. Not reading such a joke newspapaer i've no idea what page the apology went out. But at last soemthing resembling a proper apology! Such a shame that a properly worded apology only happened in the case of a business with enough clout to have taken this all the way through the courts, and a business that can quantify in £ signs the exact cost of the original lies. As long as their is a PCC individuals will never get the same redress to a pack of lies

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