Thursday 26 May 2011

Sorry we stated that you said babies born at 23 weeks should be left to die

An apology from the Mail to Dr Daphne Austin, published on 20 May:

Statements contained in an article published on 7 March, headed “Babies who are born at 23 weeks should be left to die, says NHS chief”, were wrongly attributed to Dr Daphne Austin, who is a medical consultant specialist employed by the NHS.

They were made in a programme in which Dr Austin participated and were published by us in good faith. In particular, Dr Austin did not state that babies should be “left to die” and did not express the opinion that the financial aspects of neonatal care were the issue. We apologise to Dr Austin for the errors.

As with two other recent apologies, the Mail has buried this in the US section of its website.

UPDATE: The Mail finally moved this apology from the US section of their website to their health pages at 3:26pm today. But here's a screenshot to prove the original position:

The other two apologies mentioned above have not yet been moved...

(Huge thanks to the tens of thousands of people who have visited, and tweeted links to, this blogpost today.)


  1. 'in good faith' Go away.

  2. That's "in good faith" in the sense of "we prayed no one would notice".

  3. life wreckers!

  4. 'Good faith' = bad research!

  5. "published by us in good faith": that's a barefaced lie -- like much of their content. Why does anybody read it? Why are they still in business?

  6. "in good faith" = we didn't bother checking because the facts often spoil a good story

  7. Years ago newspaper was used to wipe people's bottoms. Maybe the Mail should be exclusively used for this purpose again.
    I see no other reason for buying it!

  8. "They were made in a programme in which Dr Austin participated and were published by us in good faith".

    In other words, they didn't check, they just took someone's word. When making allegations that could so seriously damage someone's reputation, they could at least take the trouble to check.

  9. Maybe we should spattler this all over facebook and the like to ensure their apology is properly heard.

  10. "This story is about how we made a mistake, so it's about us. Therefore it must go in the 'us' section!" - Mail writers.

  11. It's my sincere belief that all "apologies" and major corrections should be given equal prominence as the original article - if that means devoting the whole front page, so be it.

  12. "wrongly attributed" implies that these comments were made by someone else. Surely the Mail should say who made these comments otherwise some may think that they had not been made at all.

  13. To be honest the impression i got from watching the programme were that daphne austin cherished money more. Everything should be done to save prem babies no matter the cost. Glad she wasnt my consultant when i had my prem baby whos now a whoppibg 12lb at 6 months.

  14. You're all part of the problem by continuing to take notice of trash like the Daily Mail.

  15. The DM is soft, strong, and thoroughly absorbent, and as such I have nothing against it but my arse

  16. They should be forced to publish another correction saying:

    "We published an apology where we said that we attributed a comment about babies dying "in good faith", but we actually didn't attribute it in good faith at all, and so we're issuing this apology."

  17. You're supposed to be journalists, at no point should the words 'in good faith' ever come up.

  18. Awful newspaper..awful journalists= rubbish reporting.

    Don't buy the paper....simple as that.

  19. Thank you for calling these idiots out - keep up the good work

  20. DM:the pond sludge of propaganda.

  21. I've not read this particular report, but a quick bit of research on the net suggests that a baby born as early as 23 weeks will be set up for a lifetime of health problems, both physical and mental. Until such times as we can develop artificial wombs to carry the baby to full term, thereby preventing these health problems, sometimes a baby maybe just to young to survive, sad as that is.

  22. Anonymous 14.18

    I'm sorry, i really disagree with your view that blogs like this contribute to the problem of tabloids telling lies.

    Before i discovered Tabloid Watch and similar blogs, i knew that the tabloids were full of nonsense, but i didn't fully realise how much they fibbed, lied, twisted the truth and talked nonsense to cause harm. The PCC does not hold these lies/issues to account effectively and so it continues unchecked.

    Lots and lots of people read the tabloids (and broadsheets) and take it as read. They believe that 1 in 4 brits is 'ethnics' or that a footballer's sex life is more important than civil war in the congo. Blogs like this, though small, though with a far far smaller readership (no offence macguffin! even with your 90,000 hits!) are part of a movement that is saying that there is an alternative to the tabloids and talking openly about mistakes and lies. This is important.

    Surely if 90,000 people read this post, that is better than the couple who read the teeny tiny space the mail gave this apology? Surely it is better to try and talk about issues in the media, then ignore it or go 'not my problem'.

    Saying that blogs like this are part of the problem is silly. The problem is a press that makes stuff up and then gets away with it.

  23. Did any of you (including MacGuffin) consider watching the programme to find out just exactly what was said?

    No.. I thought not. It's far easier to criticise the Mail and all us 'moronic' readers from a position of ignorance isn't it?

    I'll just point out that the information taken 'in good faith' probably came from the BBC -um..who made the programme and really ought to have known what was and was not said.

    Why not check for yourselves

    Here's a quote from the BBC health website just in case you're all too lazy
    'Premature babies born at 23 weeks should not be resuscitated because their chances of surviving are so slim, according to an NHS official.

    Dr Daphne Austin told BBC Radio 5 live: "There is sufficient evidence to suggest that we're [currently] doing more harm than good.'

  24. Here's my idea for improving newspaper corrections: mock-up a front page design!

  25. At the anonymous Daily Mail poster, I fail to understand why you are upset. The Daily Mail flat out stated that Dr Austin had said that babies should be left to die, which is untrue and mis-representative, done to obtain an emotional response from its readers.

    What was actually said was that resus may not be the best option. Dr Austin stated a number of her own viewpoints on the issue, but finished with the statement that more debate and better debate is needed, to allow society as a whole to decide what is best in the long term, for society rather than the individual.

    At the end of the day, the problem that I personally have with the Daily Mail is that they often print headlines to stories, which if true would make a lot of people angry. Unfortunately, they regularly and repeated lie, just to gain an angry response from their readers. Far too many people believe what they read without question, and sites like this one help with getting the truth of matters out to the public.

  26. @ Curahn

    The Daily Mail may have misquoted but did not misrepresent (in my opinion) the views of Dr Daphne Austin.

    Daphne Austin, a public health consultant for the NHS, says: ‘I can’t think of very many interventions that have such poor outcomes as resuscitating 23-week babies.
    ‘We’re spending an awful lot of money on treatments with very marginal benefit.
    ‘And personally I’d prefer to free up that money to provide support and care for people with life-long chronic conditions.’

    I'm not upset but I do find it disturbing that so many comments were left by people who were all too happy to attack the Mail (and it's moronic readership) without er...finding out the facts or er...backing up assertions such as 'they regularly and repeated(ly) lie' with er...evidence.

  27. nowhere in the show did either the nhs or dr austin utter the phrase "left to die" so to claim this as a quote is a lie, regardless of what you think was meant in "your opinion". if you are quoting someone, it has to be what they said, not your opinion on something they said. these two things are VERY different.
    as for evidence of the mail doing this sort of thing on a reguar basis, this site alone has over 500 posts on the newspaper, have a browse:

  28. @ anonymous

    The point I was trying to make is that while Dr Austin does seem to be of the belief that such babies should not be resuscitated, this is not the same as left to die.

    She is also of the opinion that, while her opinion is based on medical facts, it is a matter that should be brought to debate, because medical facts alone simply cannot deal with the heartache caused by the loss of a child.

    I don't think it helps anyone to have a dispassionate debate about such a tough subject, but at the same time, tabloids like the Daily Mail aren't helping matters either in the use of false headlines to gain the emotional knee jerk reaction in their readership.


Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.

Comments are moderated - generally to filter out spam and comments wishing death on people - but other messages will be approved as quickly as possible.