Belfast Telegraph

Make no mistake, we’re happy to put the record straight

By Paul Connolly

Hats off to the Daily Mail for its new clarifications and corrections column. I had written previously about the difficulty of getting any sort of correction into a national newspaper. Basically, your chances were next to nil.

Editors would respond to legal letters and Press Complaints Commission missives, but rarely to pleas from ordinary people about simple factual errors.

I once e-mailed a Guardian journalist about an inaccuracy in an online report, asking for it to be corrected. Didn’t even get a reply. And it’s not even a tabloid.

To be fair to the Guardian, I should have stuck to my guns and kept at it, because it led the way nationally in publishing corrections. But I just figured it was too much hassle.

So, as I previously pointed out, the simple fact of the Mail introducing a Clarifications and Corrections column was a bit of a watershed moment in the life of the UK tabloid Press.

I've been watching it closely and the admissions of error have been full and frank.

The Belfast Telegraph, and the regional Press generally, believe it has always been much better — and no, not perfect — at dealing with complaints.

The policy is to correct errors of fact as soon as they are drawn to our attention (assuming, of course, that to do so would not trigger, or aggravate, any legal issues).

From now on, the Tele will take a leaf from other folks’ books and introduce a Corrections and Clarifications column, too.

It will appear on the News Digest page, which we believe nestles nicely in the middle of the paper between the News, Features, Comment, Business and Sport sections. It’s likely the column will appear occasionally, because, to be truthful, we don’t normally receive a large volume of complaints. But, if necessary, it will appear every day.

Feel free to draw errors to our attention, though. There’s nothing that keeps journalists on their toes better than a bit of public scrutiny.

You can phone myself, the Newsdesk, or individual journalists, or write to me at 124-144 Royal Avenue, Belfast BT1 1EB, or e-mail the address below.

Speaking of corrections, a reader from Jordanstown, who doesn’t wish to be identified, writes in complaining about errors in grammar and punctuation and, in particular, an article on December 1 about the TV presenter Julia Bradbury containing the words “She has went on to present Watchdog ...”

“Toe-curlingly wrong” is the imaginative phrase used by the reader.

It is, of course, impossible to disagree.

Belfast Telegraph

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