Tuesday, 4 October 2011
Lies, fabrications and the Daily mail
“Guilty” was the first word from the judge in the appeal of the Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito appeal. This word sparked the instant publication of an article to the Daily Mail website. An article which described in graphic detail how Amanda Knox slumped down in her chair sobbing, with friends and family crying over the verdict, and quotes explaining what would now happen to the prisoners.
Except that wasn’t the verdict. The “guilty” was in reference to the fact that Amanda Knox had slandered an innocent man by implicating him in the death of Meredith Kercher. The judge then went on to quash the murder convictions and to set Knox and Sollecito free.
But she was guilty! The daily mail had hit publish and the guilty article had been published for all of its millions of readers to see. Moreover, several bloggers had taken screenshots of the article, so even when it was taken down and replaced by the accurate one which recounted how the convictions had been quashed, it was being published on blogs up and down the country, and perhaps the world over.
The fact that the Daily Mail had pre-written an article for each possibility is not unreasonable. After all, every newspaper wants to be the first to publish their story on the events as they happen. In fact, the Sun, Guardian blogger, and Sky News also published the “guilty” verdicts prematurely.
The difference with the Daily Mail however is the sheer amount of detail that had been written in the article, describing the reactions in the court in detail. Reactions which in fact, didn’t happen, given that the verdict was not as had been described. In short, the Daily Mail had done none other than write an entirely fictitious account of events, which they fully intended to publish should the verdict have been “guilty.”
We can surely only assume from this that any article which is published in real time is made up and then published, to then be amended later with more accurate information. After all, if you click on any newspaper article there is usually an indication at the top of the article to show when it was last updated. Anything that was written there before that is surely lost, and therefore, unless you are actually looking at the site at the time, most people would be unaware of what might have been written there beforehand.
People rely on newspapers to keep up to date with current affairs. Surely if we wanted to read fictional accounts of murder trials, the book shops seem to be amply stocked with novels on the subject.
In the meantime Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito have had their murder convictions quashed, and the Daily Mail readers have had any illusions that they were reading a source of accurate reporting obliterated.