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Friday, November 23, 2012

Daily Mirror (UK) silently deletes article blaming Israel for child death

I have previously discussed the case of Mahmoud Sadallah, the 4-year old boy whose the world media blamed on Israel - when in fact he was killed by a Hamas rocket.

One of the examples I gave was the Daily Mirror (UK), which showed a photos the grieving Egyptian prime minister Kandil cradling the head of the child, and had written "Egypt's Prime Minister wept today as he kissed the forehead of a boy killed in an Israeli airstrike on Gaza."

CNN and others made the same accusation, but they sort of retracted (reluctantly) when confronted with the facts.

The Daily Mirror did not, as far as I know.

So I was surprised to find out today that the link to that article is now broken, and cannot be found using the search engine on the Mirror website.

Instead of admitting the mistake, the Daily Mirror consigned the article to the proverbial "bit-bucket." It simply erased the article and pretended that it never made the mistake to begin with.

Puts your faith back into journalism, doesn't it?

It always amazes me that major, reputable media act with such immaturity when faced with their mistakes. They don't realize simple psychology: properly issuing corrections does not detract from their reputation, it enhances it.

The original CNN video with the same mistake is still online. Some 1350 people "Liked" it on Facebook. There is no indication that the report is based on a lie on that same page. People can Google it a decade from now and the lies that Sara Sidler spouted will still be there. CNN's retraction/clarification, as it were, is not even placed on the same page as the original video, where people can see the full picture. Instead, it was buried in paragraph 16 of an unrelated article. The impression that one gets isn't that CNN doesn't care about accuracy, its reputation is the driving force behind its correction policy and instead of doing proper fact-checking they instead try to minimize and hide their mistakes.

People understand that the news media can make mistakes.  But when the same media is seen trying to hide or bury those mistakes, they appear small and petty. The obfuscation is in some ways worse than the errors, because it shows that the outlets care more about their reputations than about the accuracy that they pretend is their primary goal.

I don't know which is worse - the Daily Mirror pretending that the mistake never happened, or CNN which buried its clarification but which still features the mistake in a video that people can watch in blissful ignorace on their site.

Either way, though, it explains why people increasingly do not trust the mainstream media and are relying more and more on alternative outlets, like blogs.

(h/t Emet)