Misleading, errors, apologise – Daily Telegraph

DTYesterday the Daily Telegraph admitted errors of reporting (see previous blogs: We’re not really the complaining type but… 14 AugustA lie can travel… 6 August, It gets worse, or better, depending which side you are on 5 August, You forgot the truth 4 August) about the RSPB and Hen Harrier nests after a number of readers of this blog (and others no doubt) complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation.

This is the correction and apology:

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this report stated that the RSPB was “expected to come under fire” from Natural England in a forthcoming report about hen harrier nests. The information on which this conjecture was based came from a single source and was not checked with Natural England. We accept that further enquiries might have revealed this and that our article was misleading. Although the RSPB was involved in guarding all six nests that failed, we understand that – contrary to what was stated in the original version of the article – it was also involved with three of the six successful ones. We have amended the article accordingly and we apologise for the error.

If you have a good memory you will see that quotes from Ian Gregory of You Forgot the Birds attacking the RSPB have also been removed.

Today’s Daily Telegraph should carry the same correction and apology on page 2 (if not today, then soon).

The Daily Telegraph has admitted that it did not check its facts and that as a result its coverage was misleading, and it has apologised for these errors.

That’s a small victory for truth and for the readers of this blog. It wasn’t my idea to contact IPSO – that came from Hugh Webster  (in a comment on this blog) – we should thank Hugh for taking the lead which many of us followed.

I posted my complaint on here but was asked to remove it by IPSO as part of the resolution process – so I did.

So, the Daily Telegraph took information from one source, You Forgot the Birds, and printed it unchecked. It didn’t wait until the ‘government report’ (which was a Natural England press release) came out and it didn’t check with Natural England.  It took an account of the Hen Harrier breeding season from a pressure group (funded by the British grouse industry) that it should have known, must have known, was antipathetic to the RSPB and published that same source’s criticisms of the RSPB.  This was terribly poor journalism and it’s right that the Daily Telegraph has corrected its error. Let us hope it remembers this case when it deals with other stories from this or other sources with an agenda.

And let us hope that this case may also serve as a warning to other newspapers and media outlets to be careful about checking accounts fed to them.

The Daily Telegraph eventually came to the view, once challenged very strongly by many people, that it had made a mistake for which it should apologise. It maybe could have arrived at that point quicker, but it got there in the end.

I am very grateful to the staff of IPSO who handled the process sensitively and with politeness and skill.  IPSO has been criticised by some but my experience of it, limited to this case, has been entirely positive. If only Defra moved with the same speed and purpose as IPSO then the world would be a better place.

You Forgot the Birds is funded by the British grouse industry – an industry that we would be better off without – please sign the e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting.



18 Replies to “Misleading, errors, apologise – Daily Telegraph”

  1. Whilst no doubt a small victory, and well done to Mark, Hugh Webster and everyone who submitted a complaint, I can’t help thinking that the Telegraph (and others of course) get away rather lightly when they have clearly been incompetent (or downright lied) in their journalism.
    Tougher sanctions like having the apologies on the front page, and giving those who successfully made the claim a right to publish a counter article in the same paper maybe would make Editors and newspaper owners think again.
    Mr Bonner, CA and followers were up in arms about Chris Packham be sacked for abusing his position, presumably they will be making the same requests of the Daily Telegraph owners later today?

  2. Hugh Webster indeed deserves huge credit for writing such an excellent complaint to IPSO and getting the ball rolling, but could I just point out that I had earlier highlighted that the article broke IPSO guidelines. Not that I could have penned such a good letter which is why I abandoned my draft and co-opted Hugh’s.

  3. Great work, and well done to IPSO. But the headline to the online article and first line beneath it are still grossly misleading, with the correction tacked on at the end. It’s well worth reading the flood of posts from Monro in the comments section below the article – made me chuckle.

    1. Messi – it’s not perfect but it’s quite a lot and it satisfied me. The Telegraph moved a very long way and it will have hurt them to make such an admission of error and to be forced to apologise.

      Will it make them and others more careful next time? Let’s hope so.

  4. Thats one up for the good guys then! I had an email from IPSO yesterday asking me if i wanted to continue my complaint in view of the fact that they had so many similar ones from other people. I was thinking whether to continue or not, and am still unsure; is this ‘apology’ from the Errorgraph the result of IPSO’s determination of the complaint, or an attempt by the editor to forestall it, I wonder?

  5. I continue to find the tone of the amended article bizarre, still insisting on implying some blame lies with the RSPB rather than addressing or even speculating about the fundamental cause of the hen harriers’ decline, but then I guess that is their prerogative. The recognition of the RSPB’s role in the successful nests is now recognised in only the most grudging fashion. Why this antipathy?

    There remains no discussion about the location of all the failed nests, specifically the fact that none of the successful nests were on grouse moors, while all those that failed were adjacent to grouse moors. I wonder whether Javier Espinoza imagines he is furthering the cause of conservation with this ill-researched and poorly judged piece, or if he simply does not care? He appears to be the paper’s Education Editor, so quite why he was writing a piece on Science/Conservation is a mystery and perhaps explains why he so quickly got out of his depth.

  6. I gues they only apologised because they were caught at it, bending or omitting the truth to fit the bill is a normal trick of journalism with an agenda to fullfil and is not necessarily limited to the Daily Telegraph. I don’t doubt they will try it again and hope to get away with it.

  7. The Telegraph may not have made it front page, but it is there in print, it is quotable and hopefully will re-appear each time they, CA, You’ve forgotten the Birds etc stray beyond the facts.

  8. I mentioned the Telegraph apology (well done to all complainants) last night to a friend of mine who was a Telegraph journalist for many years. He was not surprised that such a shabby piece of journalism had appeared. Apparently when the Barclay brothers took over standards (erm how shall I put it) ‘changed’.

    Makes you wonder what other rubbish slips through unchallenged.

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