Dail Mail admits exec rewrote story to add sexism


8:29 pm - May 26th 2009

by Chris Barnyard    


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The Daily Mail legal team made an extraordinary admission today. The newspaper was today forced to pay out £10,000 to three women because it alleged they rated their careers and figures more highly than having children. That alone is a cause for celebration after it paid out “substantial damages” last week for allegations against Tom Watson MP in an article by blogger Iain Dale.

What’s remarkable about this story is the Daily Mail’s own admission that a senior exec re-wrote the story to make it more sexist.

The Media Guardian report features this paragraph:

The Mail blamed the offending elements on an unnamed executive who controlled a rewrite of the story, the statement from Carter-Ruck said, rather than the journalists who interviewed the women.

So the journalist did not misinterpret what the interviewees said.

A senior executive re-wrote the story because it wasn’t sexist enough for them.

The Daily Mail was forced to publish a grovelling apology:

On November 5, 2008, we reported on women who had made the choice to adopt rather than give birth naturally.

We have been asked to clarify a number of details by those featured in the article, who are concerned that it created the impression they rated their careers and figures more highly than having children.

Katharine Parker has indicated that adoption did not have a catastrophic effect on her marriage, as stated. She has also asked us to make clear that she was told by her GP that she is unable to conceive naturally, but that she was eligible to apply for IVF.

The apology shows the extent to which, according to Rhetorically Speaking, “admits to assigning false motives, inventing opinions and fabricating direct quotes.”

He adds: “Will that executive be disciplined or fired? Or are we just hoping – following Dacre’s theory of self-regulation – that the “shame” of going.. uh.. un-named.. in front of his or her peers will be enough?”

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About the author
Chris is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He is an aspiring journalist and reports stories for LC.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Feminism ,Media

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Reader comments


“A senior executive re-wrote the story because it wasn’t sexist enough for them.”

No surprise there then.

And they are constantly attacking the BBC for bias. Priceless.

2. David Boycott

“And they are constantly attacking the BBC for bias. Priceless”

Er, one of them is a newspaper, paid for by its readership in purely voluntary transactions. The other is a broadcaster, funded out of taxation imposed on the entire TV-owning public on threat of prosecution.

See the difference?

David Boycott, you fail sir.

Their revenue has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that The Mail is, as sally says, incredibly biased, and the BBC is not (as much)

One organisation willfully bends the truth, misrepresents, and actively puts a corrosive and negative spin to virtually their entire output – to the extent they get sued weekly for it – while the other reports the news.

See the difference?

“See the difference?”

The difference is that the BBC is not biased, unlike your beloved right wing media.

How it is funded is irrelevant.

But you would not understand this because you are a moronic right wing troll who does not understand even simple concepts.

Er, one of them is a newspaper, paid for by its readership in purely voluntary transactions. The other is a broadcaster, funded out of taxation imposed on the entire TV-owning public on threat of prosecution.

So the market driven system leads to corruption, lies and bias, whereas the tax payer funded, pseudo-statist system is largely unbiased, with a large selection of educational and science based output.

Sign me up for more statist media please.

I take it all these trolls that hate the BBC never use the National Health service seeing as they hate tax paid services.

“What’s remarkable about this story is the Daily Mail’s own admission that a senior exec re-wrote the story to make it more sexist.”

I’d love to hear the conversation when they decided that. I can’t believe they’d say “stick some more sexism in”, so I wonder what turn of phrase they came up with for it.

@4: The difference is that the BBC is not biased

That’s not true — everyone is biased. For a start, most BBC employees live and work in Britain, and British citizens and are part of British culture. This makes them biased, since British people system atically see the owrld differently than non-British people.

The Daily Mail’s problem isn’t that the BBC is biased, but that the BBC’s biases are closer to the average bias for the British people than the Mail’s biases.

The problem regarding the Mail, in this instance, is not that they are biased, it is that they deliberately made up stuff that wasn’t true. Which is just not on — they deserve a fine big enough that they’ll be wary of doing it again.

“But you would not understand this because you are a moronic right wing troll who does not understand even simple concepts.”

Sally, will you marry me?

I take it all these trolls that hate the BBC never use the National Health service seeing as they hate tax paid services.

Correct Sally.

I can’t afford it.

It is perfectly possible for the BBC to be biased and for the Daily Mail to be biased and have a bad habit of libelling people too. There is no inconsistency in these claims. The questions of whether media should be publically funded at all (since they always have an agenda of sorts) remains.

The questions of whether media should be publically funded at all (since they always have an agenda of sorts) remains.

Ahh yes. So we get rid of the BBC and end up with the Daily Mail. That’ll really improve our daily life and politics.

13. So Much For Subtlety

I am not sure where the sexism lies. It looks like they re-wrote it to stir some controversy and appeal to their female readers who are also, or who are thinking, of being mothers.

But I suppose that is not important.

As for bias, of course the BBC is biased. So is the Daily Mail after a fashion. But of course I don’t have to pay for the Daily Mail’s biases on threat of prison. There is a difference.

And if we got rid of the BBC, either people like Sunny would pay for the news they want, or they wouldn’t. Either there would be enough of them or there wouldn’t. If there are too few people like Sunny who think the BBC is worth it, why should it be closed? If there are enough, why should pensioners in Leeds pay for the news sources Sunny enjoys?

14. Shatterface

Sunny, you wrote an article attacking the BBC a few months back, referring to the licence as a ‘regressive tax’ and arguing that the corporation was setting back liberal-left causes.

You said that the fragmentation of British culture that would ensue from shutting down the BBC would be fine by you.

So we get rid of the BBC and end up with the Daily Mail. That’ll really improve our daily life and politics.

No. You don’t end up with the Daily Mail. You end up with a whole panoply of organisations operating in a variety of different media from which you can get news. Some of these will undoubtedly have an agenda based on their ownership others may not.

The danger with the BBC is that, because of its status, people tend to unquestioningly believe what it says, assuming it to be unbiased. But it too has an agenda and, since the Kelly affair, the agenda has been to be HMG’s lapdog.

For example, you are presumably aware that there has been very serious rioting throughout Europe over the last six months that has gone virtually unreported on the BBC. Perhaps because someone was afraid of sparking a copycat here?

Oh yes. And I’m not keen on any organisation that compels me to pay for their services at the point of a gun when I have never agreed to do so.

Please don’t ask Sunny to be consistent – life would be that much more boring 🙂

On media funding – you probably dislike this guy, but I like this idea – a National Media Trust funded voluntarily by (obviously) the middle class, but output available to all, a way of delivering the good bits of the BBC without the crap and the empire building.

http://richarddnorth.com/2009/01/time-for-a-media-funding-revolution/

It will never happen of course; too many vested interests.

So much for subtlety –

you don’t have to pay for the BBC’s biases on threat of prison. If you own (and watch) a television and don’t have a licence for it, you’ll be charged up to, but almost certainly much less than, £1000 for it. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/3964598/Row-over-television-licence-fee-fines.html) As far as Sunny vs. the pensioners of Leeds go, the five most listened to radio stations are all BBC, the most watched television station is BBC 1, and the BBC 10 o’clock news is the most popular news broad cast in the country (and often the most popular broadcast of any genre), which suggests that it might not be such a popular move if you abolished it.

As far as bias goes, the fact that you only pay for the Daily Mail if you want to (and therefore, you’d assume, believe what you read in it,) means that people are being made to belive that deliberatley sexist things are objective fact. The BBC may have a bias in the programmes it comissions / stories it covers, it doesn’t purposefully set out to maliciously mislead its users into believing things which will do other people harm, which is what the Mail have done here.

Rachel – if it’s so popular (and I don’t doubt it is) then the large number of people who like it can choose to pay for it, and it won’t be “abolished” at all. In fact, it will thrive. Simple really.

@Pagar

“there has been very serious rioting throughout Europe over the last six months that has gone virtually unreported on the BBC. Perhaps because someone was afraid of sparking a copycat here?”

It’s hardly made number one story on ITV, Channel4, Sky News, The Times etc either. The amount of coverage the BBC gave to e.g. the recent French strikes, which are reasonable likely to happen in Britain, and the fact that thee bbc have published (but not promoted) stories about the political situation in Europe) suggests that there is at least the possibility that it has remained unreported because the political situation in Moldova isn’t of very much interest to the average British viewer. Obviously, this isn’t a good thing, and it is also possible that the British press hasn’t reported it for more sinister reasons, but in the absence of proof (and bearing in mind that the way the web based BBC news is run, it’s the most popular stories which appear on the website, while less popular have to be searched for) you can’t really compare it to this story, where bias has been proved.

Quite apart from anything else, i’m not sure what it is about the proof of malicious bias in the Daily Mail that seems to have tripped so many people’s OMG DEATH TO THE BBC switches.

cjcjc

My point was that it is only people who watch it who pay for it – as I said, if you don’t have a television which you use for watching live broadcasts, you don’t have to pay anything, even if you do listen to the radio, read the website etc. The figures were just a response to so much for subtlety’s bizzare attempt to frame the licence fee as something which causes a lower income majority (pensioners of Leeds) to fund something which benefits a liberal minority (Sunny), which is clearly not the case.

Rachel – you have to pay for the BBC even if you only watch Sky.

Of course pensioners are exempt (over 70’s?)…!

Cjcjc,

yes, but the figures suggest that even if you own a television and never, ever, ever watch anything on the BBC, you’ll probably listen to the radio stations, read the website etc. Do you know anyone who owns a TV and only watches Sky? The number of people who never use the BBC is relatively small, which makes objecting to paying for it because you don’t use it similar to objecting to paying for libraries, public transport, or any other public service because you don’t use them. Also, it was SMFS who was talking about pensioners, the final comment may well not have been aimed at me but quite a lot else that people have said seems to have gone over your head so it seems worth pointing out.

I find the argument against the licence fee to be pretty feeble.

Television is not free, even in non Licence Fee paying countries. It is paid for out of the marketing budgets of the companies who advertise there. Those overheads increase the unit cost of the goods and services we buy.

In addition, the licence fee provides direct accountability over the BBC’s output. The reason the BBC remains the media’s most reliiable and impartial broadcaster is because it is directly funded by everyone in the UK who owns a television. It has to acknowledge that its funding comes from people from all walks of life, with all sorts of outlooks. It has to do this, or the government of the day will find its claim on licence fee cash unsupportable. To date, the BBC still enjoys support from 2/3rds of the British people.

A commercial broadcaster is accountable to no one but its shareholders. It controls information, yet has no requirement to channel that to the benefit of society as a whole. It only has to chase the highest ratings to earn the greatest amount of advertising income possible. There is a massive dislocation between consumer of the broadcast output and the funding stream.

This is why ITV struggles. It certainly can strangle itself commercially by pumping out celebrity-obsessed drivel as it has done these last ten years, but it also has to fight general economic circumstances (even if its own industry is unaffected, which in media-land, often it is not). Where revenue is squeezed, costs have to be cut, which directly affects quality of information and other general output.

The economic malaise and inception of internet advertising makes the television licence more justifiable as a bulwark against precipitously declining standards in broadcast output. The internet in particular will catastrophically erode commercial television’s ability to raise funding in future (why do you think you see all those earnest appeals from commercial TV pressenters to “visit our website” to find out more information on a subject they could have covered in the same depth on their TV programme anyway?).

It can be seen from all this that, contrary to the inflexible views of anti-BBC obsessives, actually it is commercial TV which is under threat in the new digital age, not the BBC.

The Conservatives and their moron trolsl just can’t deal with non biased media. That is why they hate the BBC. Because it is balanced. The right does not want balance , it wants and demands bias. That is why most Conservaites get their news from the most biased newspapers in the country. They like bias, they like predjudce. And they hate having to be confronted with an alternative which dioes not fit with their small little minds.

The Right knows that if yoy leave everything to the free market you will end up with a media owned and controlled by big business which is overwelmingly right wing. That is exactly what has happened in America. The corporate media is owned by a small group of compainies that fill their news reports with Republican talking points.

As for this straw man argument about paying for it that is classic right wing bullshit. Can I avloid paying for all the lazy farmers to be susdized every time they acrew up their industry? No

Can I avoid paying for the numerous wars that govs fight in the name of anglo America oil comapainies. no

Can I avoid paying for

The Conservatives and their moron trolls just can’t deal with non biased media. That is why they hate the BBC. Because it is balanced. The right does not want balance , it wants and demands bias. That is why most Conservatives get their news from the most biased newspapers in the country. They like bias, they like prejudice. And they hate having to be confronted with an alternative which does not fit with their small little minds.

The Right knows that if you leave everything to the free market you will end up with a media owned and controlled by big business which is overwhelmingly right wing. That is exactly what has happened in America. The corporate media is owned by a small group of companies that fill their news reports with Republican talking points.

As for this straw man argument about paying for it, that is classic right wing bullshit. Can I avoid paying for all the lazy farmers to be subsidized every time they screw up their industry? No

Can I avoid paying for the numerous wars that governments fight in the name of Anglo America oil companies? no

Can I avoid paying for hypercritical Conservatives who use the National Health service even though they always moan about it? No

Please don’t ask Sunny to be consistent – life would be that much more boring 🙂

Haha! I knew someone would raise that point too. If you read my response, I didn’t actually said I supported the licence fee, only that the false dichotomy set up between the Mail and the BBC doesn’t help the issue.

27. So Much For Subtlety

Rachel – “you don’t have to pay for the BBC’s biases on threat of prison. If you own (and watch) a television and don’t have a licence for it, you’ll be charged up to, but almost certainly much less than, £1000 for it.”

Actually a reasonable number of female prisoners are in prison for not paying. I do have to pay because the BBC’s budget is not covered by the fee.

“As far as Sunny vs. the pensioners of Leeds go, the five most listened to radio stations are all BBC, the most watched television station is BBC 1, and the BBC 10 o’clock news is the most popular news broad cast in the country (and often the most popular broadcast of any genre), which suggests that it might not be such a popular move if you abolished it.”

Sure but it also suggests that people will pay for it. If they will pay for it, why not let them? Why force people at gun point to pay for it when the listeners are there and so advertisers will pay for it?

“people are being made to belive that deliberatley sexist things are objective fact.”

You assume that people believe what they read. As opposed to the newspaper printing what they believe already. Why? And what sexist thing?

“The BBC may have a bias in the programmes it comissions / stories it covers, it doesn’t purposefully set out to maliciously mislead its users into believing things which will do other people harm, which is what the Mail have done here.”

Actually I think they do. Regularly. Every time it calls a terrorist and insurgent for instance.

28. So Much For Subtlety

BenM – “Television is not free, even in non Licence Fee paying countries. It is paid for out of the marketing budgets of the companies who advertise there. Those overheads increase the unit cost of the goods and services we buy.”

You have no evidence that this last claim is true. It is more likely that advertising increases sales which reduces the unit costs of the goods and services we buy because of efficiencies of scale. After all, those that do not advertise tend to be more expensive than those that do.

“In addition, the licence fee provides direct accountability over the BBC’s output.”

Sorry but what? Why do you think that?

“It has to acknowledge that its funding comes from people from all walks of life, with all sorts of outlooks. It has to do this, or the government of the day will find its claim on licence fee cash unsupportable.”

Or more accurately the State-owned broadcaster and the Government have to agree to a certain level and type of coverage that suits them both. Not necessarily the level and type of coverage that suits everyone.

“There is a massive dislocation between consumer of the broadcast output and the funding stream.”

Actually there is a direct link – those that watch pay for the TV news. Unlike the second or third hand relationship with the BBC.


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  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    New post: Dail Mail admits exec rewrote story to add sexism http://bit.ly/htVBT

  2. Debate around the web 27.05.09 « Press Review Blog

    […] Liberal Conspiracy reports on a payout from the Daily Mail to a women who were subjects of an inaccurate Femail piece about attitudes towards adoption. Apparently the story was changed after the intervention of an unnamed executive. The Daily Mail’s apology can be viewed in full and came three months after the initial story – apparently through the PCC process. The legal action took a further three months. […]





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