30 January 2015

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Welsh daily newspaper apologises over caption error

The Western Mail has apologised after an error in a picture caption which appeared to make light of an airport boss’s death in a plane crash.

Bob Jones, manager of Mid Wales Airport, was killed after a light aircraft in which he was a passenger crashed into trees on a hillside in Powys in January.

A report in today’s Western Mail on the outcome of an inquiry into the accident contained a picture of Mr Jones which was captioned:  “Mid-Wales airport manager Bob Jones, 60, who was killed in the crash LOL.”

The erroneous inclusion of the letters LOL – which mean Laugh Out Loud – led to widespread condemnation of the newspaper on the social networking site Twitter.

Freelance journalist Jack Seale nominated it as the worst caption fail of all time, while Western Mail reader Barry Taylor said the paper had sunk to “unacceptable new lows.”

A spokesman for publisher Trinity Mirror said:  “The caption error in today’s Western Mail is under internal investigation.

“We apologise for any offence this error may have caused.”


  1. Cherrywonder

    I bet the caption writer is not laughing out loud right now.

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  2. Middle aged hack

    That’s someone out of a job, then.

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  3. Golam Murtaza

    And old-style sub would probably have spotted that one. But loads of papers no longer have any old-style subs….thanks to our glorious senior managers.

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  4. RT, Kent

    Golam, yes, maybe but it still begs the question of how on earth it got there in the first place. Not sure ‘glorious senior managers’ can be blamed for that, it looks like somebody being very stupid. Maybe there’s a completely innocent explanation but I can’t see what it would be.

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  5. Kevin Duffy

    Quark pages can be altered at the production department end, long after they have left the editorial department’s jurisdiction. I’ve occasionally stood beside someone in production to oversee a very late and necessary change. That’s absolutely not to imply anything about anyone, of course, but it is a fact that this unfortunate horror could have been introduced anywhere from the point when the snapper captioned the pic, to the moment when the button is pressed to send the page to platemaking. There is a slim possibility that some esoteric picture coding system had reached the letter after LOK and the letter before LOM, but I doubt it. Or maybe it’s a short form for the snapper’s name – but I doubt that, too. Either way, a digital record somewhere on the network will reveal all…

  6. Juvenal, Cardiff

    “Quark pages can be altered at the production department end, long after they have left the editorial department’s jurisdiction.”

    ….Not at the WM.

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  7. DAVE

    Obviously a picture code of some sort. Unfortunate.

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  8. wilber

    As the Leveson Enquiry revealed, our Prime Minister thought it meant Lots of Love.
    Seriously though, during my time at Trinity the system for captioning pictures was appalling, devoting more time and energy to generate future photo sales than the details of the picture content.
    It could have been worse. I have seen printed ‘Three decks of 36pt in here pleaze’

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  9. Kevin Duffy

    “….Not at the WM.”

    I see. That will shorten the investigation, then.

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  10. Roger Jones, Bedworth Warwickshire

    No doubt all will be revealed ‘in the wash’ as it were. Maybe there is an innocent explanation. It does seem to be unfortunate, however, and I offer my condolances to family and friends of the deceased to whom, incidentally, I am not related.
    I once worked for a Trinity Mirror weekly where a sub with, apparently, plenty of time to mess about superimposed Prince Charles’s head onto a pic in the system and it was used in the paper. Journalism is as we all know a much changing world and, thanks to social media perhaps, is giving people more to laugh (or cry) about by the day.
    Not all changes are for the better.

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  11. Ex-Insider

    So what is the style for other captions in the same edition? It seems to me that this company investigation should be completed in five minutes flat.

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  12. Olympic Breakfast, Riverbank Arena

    Wilber, how can “three decks of 36pt in here pleaze” be worse than “laugh out loud” in a caption about someone who has died?
    Values check urgently needed, mate.

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  13. Fatfox

    Olympic Breakfast: Presumably the “three decks of 36pt in here pleaze” was set in 36pt. And the “pleaze” was almost certainly deliberately put in there to trigger an alert during the document’s final run through the spelling checker. For a place-holder in 36pt to have got through into print is a much more worrying lapse in subbing/proofing procedure than for three characters not to be spotted at the end of a caption. The *consequences* of the caption miss are worse than those of the unwritten headline, but not the standard of laziness/stupidity involved in letting the error get through.

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  14. wilber

    Olympic Breakfast, Riverbank Arena:
    They spelt ‘please’ wrong, it was the Daily Express and made the 1st edition. Sorry if that offended. Old Fleet Street humour kicked in there

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  15. Old Hack

    OMG ! Such a cock-up would have been spotted right away in the good old days when first copies of the paper landed on the news and picture desks soon after the presses burst into action. But suppose these days of industrial estate based presses miles from the editorial this will happen.STP ! (Stop the Press)

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