A regional daily is highlighting the pressures faced by its local NHS workers after being forced to defend itself against wrongful accusations of publishing “fake news” over a hospital story it ran.
The Yorkshire Evening Post is running a special series championing the work of healthcare professionals in the Leeds area who “go above and beyond” at a time when the service is feeling the most strain.
The series comes after the YEP last week issued a plea to readers not to be “fooled by fake news” about its exclusive on the plight of Jack Williment-Barr, who was photographed sleeping on the floor of Leeds General Infirmary with suspected pneumonia due to bed shortages.
The story by reporter Dan Sheridan was followed up by the Daily Mirror and came to dominate last Monday’s pre-election exchanges, but there were claims on social media that the story amounted to “fake news” and that the picture of Jack was “set up” by his mother and Labour-supporting hospital staff.
She wrote: “Everyone has the freedom to read what they want and believe what they want given there are so many places to consume news.
“Yet we were not willing to sit by idly and watch on as the misinformation continued to be swallowed by those of you who were trying to discern the truth between truth and lies.
“Your YEP made a bold statement – we published the fiction that was circulating and warned the public to be careful when it comes to ensuring what they share across media platforms. Has it been verified by an accountable and trusted publisher that thoroughly researches before publishing?
“The response to this was humbling and reaffirmed exactly why society needs journalists and solid quality, fact-checked journalism to wade through the mire of noise and fakery online.”
Laura went on to say in yesterday’s (16) editorial that the industry was “under constant attack as keyboard warriors hide behind their screens launching their tapped out grenades across the social battlefield”.
She added: “That is why today we are launching a special series shining a spotlight on the very real pressures our wonderful National Health Service is facing as the cold weather continues to bite.
“We are championing those healthcare professionals who day in, day out go above and beyond to provide the very best care they possibly can at a time of the year when the service is feeling the most strain.
“And the only way to really get under the skin of this is to speak to those at the very heart of this.
“I would challenge any of our readers to look those workers in the eye and then question the validity of what they are telling us. They are at the sharp end of the service – and we are so very grateful for their work.”