Thursday, 24 January 2013

'Corrections must be given more prominence'

The main headline on the front page of the Mail on 3 January stated there were '4,000 foreign murderers and rapists we can't throw out':

The first line of the story underneath proved the headline wasn't literally true:

Nearly 4,000 foreign murderers, rapists and other criminals are roaming the streets, free to commit more crimes.

A factcheck by the excellent Full Fact concluded:

After Full Fact contacted the UKBA, they confirmed that no published breakdown is available for the types of offences these people served a sentence for. Such information could be obtained by a freedom of information request, but no such requests seem to have been made.

So while we know that there are just under 4,000 foreign national offenders living in the community subject to deportation, there's no evidence as to how many of these are guilty of the offences being suggested. This doesn't sit well with the Mail's headline

Perhaps inevitably, then, there's a clarification in today's Mail, which confirms what Full Fact found three weeks ago:

The headline of an article on 3 January suggested that there are 4,000 foreign murderers and rapists in the UK who cannot be deported.

We are happy to clarify that, as the article stated, the figure in fact refers to 3,980 foreign criminals, including murderers and rapists, who are currently subject to deportation orders.

In other words, when the Mail splashed '4,000 murderers and rapists' on its front page, it didn't actually know how many of that 4,000 were guilty of those crimes.

The clarification, however, did not make the front page, where the original error appeared so prominently. Mail editor Paul Dacre said at one of the Leveson seminars in October 2011:

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.

He said this a couple of months after telling MPs that it was a 'great myth' that corrections are 'buried'.

But today's clarification didn't make page two either. The paper has devoted that page to their 'daily lottery' today. Instead, it's buried towards the bottom of page four:

Quite a difference when compared with the size of the original error - especially from a paper whose editor said that corrections 'must be given more prominence'

(Thanks to Nick, Steve and Lee for help with the page four image)


  1. It would be interesting if clarifications and corrections were required to be in the same location and of the same size as the original error.

  2. Why can't this excuse for a newspaper get things right? No need to answer.

  3. Also, its below another similar scare-mongering story and the correction is misleading to an idiot (who said target audience?), implying that the correction is to 3980 instead of 4000, rather than anything to do with the type of crimes committed.


  4. Also, of course, they don't correct the rest of the misleading headline and sub-heading. The government is seeking to throw them out, and the main reason given for not being able to do that is not 'uman rights, but the simple fact that if someone doesn't tell you where they are from it's v. difficult (and costly) to send them back there. Of course, the wingnuts who promptly cut and pasted this headline around the world will not be doing the same for the clarification. And so it goes.

  5. What would be lovely was if every front page was a pre-emptive apology for the corrections that would undoutedly be needed for the contents of the paper... I'm a dreamer.


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