We only have one daily newspaper in Brisbane, Australia. Our “Courier-Mail” has a habit of getting facts wrong and then correcting them in fine print where hardly anybody would find it. I believe that if a paper makes a mistake then it should print its corrections on the front page.
Take the story of the bullied girl whose parents bashed the bully when the police and the school did nothing. I wrote about this yesterday. (see below) The story included a photo of the bully with her name below the pix. Well, as it turns out, the name was incorrect. The horrid creature is called Danielle and not Rachel, as the newspaper reported on yesterday’s front page. That’s mistake number one. But what was worse is that the girl in the photo was not the bully but someone else who happened to walk in front of the camera. This poor girl was unrelated to the case.
So in today’s edition of the paper there was a correction, down the bottom of page 28 admitting to the mistake about the wrong name and the wrong photo. This sort of thing is so damaging to an innocent person and it is not enough to make a small correction and apology.
I am personally familiar with the unethical tactics that the Courier-Mail operation employs to get a story.
The following incident actually refers to the Courier-Mail’s weekend paper, The Sunday Mail which is even more trashy than the Courier-Mail.
These events occurred just before Christmas, 2005. Around Xmas there isn’t much news. Things are slow, so one young reporter, Ainsley Pavey from the Sunday Mail, decides to stir things up. She gains an interview with a prominent Muslim leader and a prominent Jewish leader in Brisbane. Her intention is to create a sensation in a slow news week. She asks what these leaders think of Christmas.
The Jewish leader comments that he has no problem with Christmas and that he respects the holidays of all faiths. When asked about the commercialisation of Christmas he agrees with the reporter that perhaps Christians might feel that Christmas has become commercialised.
Ainsley Pavey does the same thing apparently to the Muslim leader. She resorts to creative journalism for which we later find out, she is renown.
So what did that reporter write in her headline? Well, according to Miss Pavey, the Jewish and Muslim communities would like Christmas to be “renamed and toned down” It was a blatant stirring on the reporter’s part. Both the Jewish and Muslim leaders were astounded by her lies in mass circulation Sunday edition and wrote official letters of complaint to the paper. The paper chose not to publish some of the official complaints.
The situation was so distressing that even the Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane took the paper to task for trying to inflame division in the Brisbane community. He also said he was concerned about inaccurate reporting in the paper.
The outcome of Pavey’s scurrilous agitating was that bigots began to verbally attack the Jewish and Muslim communities who had said nothing offensive. It was a terrible outcome at a time when there should have been peace and goodwill to all men.
The other outcome of Pavey’s lies is that the Jewish community will be much more circumspect in the future before it welcomes a reporter from the Brisbane Courier-Mail and its fellow waste of felled trees, The Sunday Mail.
This kind of unscrupulous behaviour on the part of newspapers in general and the Courier-Mail, in particular, shatters any confidence we have in their credibility. As result of such misreporting, we will have to query “where did you read that?” before taking them seriously. If the reply is The Courier-Mail, then reach for the nearest salt shaker.
That is why I would like to see retractions, corrections and apologies in large print on the front page of newspapers, rather than in some inconspicuous section that can be easily missed by a reader.
The problem with my suggestion, of course, is that it would leave room for little else on the front page of our lamentable newspaper and its trashy Sunday version. So perhaps we should then change the paper’s name to “The Brisbane Daily Humble Pie.”