Thursday, 8 December 2011

The 'gangsta salute' that wasn't

When reporting on Mark Duggan's funeral on 9 September, the MailOnline's initial splash headline said: 'Gangsta salute for 'a fallen soldier'' (hat-tip to The Media Blog). This appeared to be based solely on photos that emerged of mourners reaching out towards Duggan's coffin.

However, as the Guardian reported on the day:

As mourners prepared to set off from the house, the bishop called them to stand on the pavement beside the wooden carriage... He urged the mourners to stretch their arms towards the carriage as he prayed.

The next day, the Express - never shy of echoing what has been reported by the Mail - repeated the claim, adding that the 'gangsta salute' (that wasn't) was 'chilling':

The Media Blog commented on this at the time and noted that the Mail did eventually 'tone down' its headline.

Yet according to the PCC, it was only yesterday - three months later - that a clarification appeared on the Mail's website:

An earlier version of this article suggested that mourners lining the streets as Mark Duggan’s body was carried to his funeral made “gang-style” salutes. We have been informed that the salute pictured above referred to a call by Bishop Kwaku Frimpong-Manson at an earlier service for mourners to “stretch [their] hands towards the casket and thank God for Mark’s life as he begins his heavenly journey”. We are happy to clarify this and regret any confusion or distress caused.

As usual, the clarification tries to turn a definite statement into a mere suggestion, and tries to turn 'gangsta salute' into '"gang-style" salutes'. 

But as the Mail did 'tone down' their headline within a day or so, why has it take them so long to admit their error?

And will the Express - which has withdrawn from the PCC - follow the Mail's lead, or will they continue to mislead about the 'gangsta salute'.

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