Saturday, 22 March 2014

The Reading Chronic

It's interesting to see some people trying to justify the rank reporting in the Reading Chronicle by suggestion that "there is some truth' in what they are reporting.

There are also some elements of truth in the statement that the Chronicle has previously published lies as fact and refused to correct it or publish an apology despite my contacting the news editor and providing irrefutable evidence that they had published falsehoods. I was met by them with a complete wall of arrogance. That is, one may say, a statement of fact. It has happened on more than one occasion to my personal knowledge.

However, if I was then to infer from that "statement of fact" that the Chronicle had an endemic problem with factual journalism and a modus operandii of publishing unsubstantiated anecdotes as fact in order to create sensationalist stories, I would be guilty of a dangerous extrapolation which libelled their journalists, some of whom over the last 7 years I have liked immensely and have never had a problem with.

It would be unfair of me to say, based on my personal experience, that Chronicle journalists had a problem with factual reporting and libelled them by association based on something that I can prove has 'some elements of truth'.

But the Chronicle has this time gone far beyond the poor journalism for which they are famed... their report on The Cure at Reading Festival was hilariously inaccurate. They have strayed into putting their profession into disrepute.

This is part of the PCC code of conduct:

i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures.

ii) A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion once recognised must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and - where appropriate - an apology published. In cases involving the Commission, prominence should be agreed with the PCC in advance.

iii) The Press, whilst free to be partisan, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.

iv) A publication must report fairly and accurately the outcome of an action for defamation to which it has been a party, unless an agreed settlement states otherwise, or an agreed statement is published.
They have clearly been guilty of breaching the code by publishing a picture of a posed hooligan creating a grossly distorted picture of the truth based on information that they themselves have presented.

Typical example:
Police were called to investigate reports that Red Devils supporters had been "singing racists songs" and making Nazi salutes during the game. No perpetrators were ever identified.

I don't like travelling United fans as they are an arrogant bunch of *****, but I have never in 26 years of attending matches seen any evidence of this and I sit close to the away end at the Emirates. Perhaps no perpetrators were found because it didn't happen!

The Chronicle publishes claims of 'Racist Chanting' yet can only point to two individuals on separate occasions in their "evidence". That is NOT chanting and it is a deliberate distortion to report it as such. They claim that Reading fans were racially abusing a Millwall player but then admit that police discovered fans were calling him "fat". The Chronicle by its own admission in fact destroys its own story. The paper that ate itself.

They have apologised for the Hillsborough comments because they could be found guilty of contempt as the inquest has been reopened. They have not published an apology to Reading fans or fans of other clubs they have libelled,

I'm not pretending nothing ever happens. I've had my nose broken and been knocked unconscious after a match. I've been caught up in a certain amount of unpleasantness in Copenhagen with Galatasary fans. I've been on a bus bottled by Villa fans. Does this stop me going to football? No, because it is far rarer to have trouble after a match than it is if you go out drinking in town, or indeed delivering councillor surgery leaflets to residential properties when I have been assaulted twice.

No-one is pretending that nothing happens, with 250,000 a season attending matches there are bound to be isolated incidents. However, police records show conclusively that incidents are indeed isolated. The officer IN CHARGE of match day policing has said on BBC South Today  that this story is a gross distortion.

The bottom line is that The Chronicle's article is grossly misrepresentative and they have dug a deeper hole for themselves by issuing a weasel apology once caught and by refusing to apologise to all fans they have libelled in an appalling case of shoddy reporting. It is why I have reported them to the Press Complaints Commission.

I feel sorry for the majority of the Chronicle's journalists for having to work under such conditions.
A front page splash and multiple page article like that has to have been green lit by the editor. It is not a rogue reporter.

The buck stops with the editor. That is where the rot lies.

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