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Restructures ‘eating away’ at fact-checking process warns editor

Keith HarrisonRegional press job cuts are aiding the fake news phenomenon by “eating away” at traditional fact-checking processes, a senior editor has warned.

Keith Harrison, editor of top-selling UK regional daily the Express & Star, told the Society of Editors that the system of reporters’ stories being fact-checked by news editors, sub-editors and copy editors was being eroded.

“If your readers are your fact-checkers you are already in trouble….each restructure that eats away at our resources puts us at greater risk,” he said.

Keith was taking in a panel on fake news with Google vice-president Peter Barron and Will Moy, director of face-checking website Full Fact.

Keith said regional newspapers faced a twofold risk in terms of the pressure to get information online quickly allied to the pressure on resources.

However he added: “If we do our jobs properly we can combat fake news quite easily. Fake news is reliant on us not doing our jobs properly.”

Both Keith and former Manchester Evening News editor Paul Horrocks also questioned whether Google was doing enough to tackle fake news.

Said Keith: “Removing inaccurate content from the Express and Star website is quick and easy, but removing from Google much harder and takes longer.”

Earlier Telegraph editor-in-chief Chris Evans said the industry needed to do more to promote trusted journalism and help combat fake news.

“We have suffered something of a loss of confidence…we’ve forgotten how special we are and what we bring to people,” he said.

***

Every new NCTJ-qualified journalist will get the chance to join a Metropolitan Police response unit on a night shift, police commissioner Cressida Dick has pledged.

Ms Dick, who became Britain’s top cop earlier this year, issued the pledge at the Society of Editors conference as part of an attempt to repair police-media relations.

“From my first day in the job I made clear I wanted to reset the relationship with the media,” she said.

“You are an essential component of our relationship with the public. Every day we see crime solved because of media attention.”

However Ms Dick refused to express regret for Operation Elveden, which resulted in several failed prosecutions against journalists over their relations with police officers.

“I won’t apologise for Operation Elveden. Corrupt officers were locked up and for me that was a good result,” she said.

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The SoE’s new executive director Ian Murray paid tribute to his predecessor Bob Satchwell as today’s conference opened in Cambridge.

Bob, who had led the Society for all 19 years of its existence, was forced to step down earlier this year due to ill-health.

“It would be remiss of us not to pay tribute to Bob who was the driving force in turning the old Guild of Editors into the Society of Editors,” said former Southern Daily Echo editor Ian.

“Bob has been absolutely tireless in fighting our corner as an industry It’s dreadful that ill-health took him away from us at this time.”

4 comments

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  • November 13, 2017 at 4:01 pm
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    Spot on. Sub editors no longer exist on many papers. It shows.

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  • November 14, 2017 at 8:00 am
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    “Removing inaccurate content from the Express and Star website is quick and easy.”

    Call me old fashioned, but what happened to not putting it there in the first place?

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  • November 14, 2017 at 4:42 pm
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    Most newspapers seldom publish even corrections submitted by readers – despite prominent page-2 pledges each day vowing to rectify errors as soon as possible.

    Genuine errors are of course understandable and inevitable, but withholding corrections is tantamount to lying: if a paper has been informed of a mistake, and provided with a correction stating accurate information, yet fails to run a correction in the print edition or even amend the online version, it is doing nothing to disabuse readers of previously-stated false information.

    These days, it would only take a few seconds to copy and paste an email-submitted correction into a paper’s dedicated corrections column. Yet papers very rarely bother to do so – even for major blunders. Indeed, the vow to correct all significant errors is itself, by being routinely dishonoured, a lie.

    Habitual culprits include the Bristol Post, the Bath Chronicle, Metro and the Daily Mail.

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