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Weekly hits out at ‘fake news’ claim and other ‘myths’ about its journalists

A weekly newspaper has publicly hit out at accusations it publishes “fake news” – along with seven other “myths” about its journalists.

The Derbyshire Times is hoping to debunk “frankly stupid” rumours about its practices after publishing an article online aimed at “setting the record straight” with the more critical elements of its readership.

Run under the headline ‘Eight myths about the Derbyshire Times which are quite frankly stupid’, the Chesterfield-based Times declared it was “time to debunk the silliness once for all”.

It addressed claims that the paper publishes “fake news”, that it has a political agenda, and that its journalists “never leave the office”, among others.

DTimes

The Times has so far declined to comment further on the piece, written by journalist Sophie Wills, or explain what prompted its publication.

The eight “myths”, and their accompanying explanations, are as follows:

– We don’t report good news
This one leaves us scratching our heads on the daily. Do us a favour – don’t jump on the bandwagon! Take a sec to flick through the paper or scroll through our feed. You’ll find it’s brimming with positive stories.

– We don’t support local businesses
Rubbish. Not only do we have a fantastic monthly business supplement, in this week’s DT we’re highlighting the area’s top small and medium-sized enterprises. We also recently the Love Your High Street campaign.

– We’re not allowed to publish the names and addresses of criminals
Unless reporting restrictions are in place, we will report the names, addresses and ages of defendants who appear in court and are permitted by law to do so. It is important to report these details for identification purposes.

– Our journalists never leave the office
You’ll find reporters visiting schools, representing the paper at events, selling poppies in November and raising money for charity. We attend court, inquests, crime scenes and council meetings most days. See you round!

– We have a political agenda
Nope. Our newspaper is impartial and does not support any particular party, despite what some people may claim. We strive for balance and to represent both sides of the story so our readers can make up their own minds.

– We publish fake news
It’d be fun to doss about making up stories for a laugh but we can’t. We obtain info from trusted sources and have to adhere to strict guidelines. And for your information – just because you don’t agree with a story doesn’t mean it’s fake news.

– We haven’t heard the term ‘slow news day’ a million times already
A ‘slow news day?’ comment does not a bastion of wit make, sorry. And a story that’s not newsworthy to you (but might be newsworthy to someone else) does not a slow news day make, either.

– We don’t have Chesterfield’s best interests at heart
Nobody wants to see Chesterfield thrive more than we do. We might report on the good and the bad, but deep down we’ll always be rooting for this little gem of a town. So there!

The piece received a mixed reaction on Facebook after the Times linked to the article with the caption: “Right, you lot- we’re setting the record straight…”

Reader Joel Robinson added his own ‘myth’ suggestion: “The Derbyshire Times website isn’t powered by hamsters. It’s slow due to all the syndicated news, third party advertising and bad design.”

Louise Rogers wrote: “What can I say, a lovely way to address your not so loyal readers ‘right, you lot’. If you have to justify your existence you have a problem. I must admit the I only still follow for the laugh.”

But Alan Walker said: “Don’t worry DT, people just love to moan. Most of those who whinge don’t unfollow you so [I] can only conclude they do it for likes.”

11 comments

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  • March 27, 2019 at 9:18 am
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    And we do not edit our copy very carefully.
    Spot the mistakes yourself, but the use of Nope and It’d (presumably for it would) grates particularly for anyone liking good written English.
    It all sounds a bit defensive, but some good points are made.

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  • March 27, 2019 at 9:47 am
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    Wonder how the sales of the DT are holding up? No longer registered with the ABC.

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  • March 27, 2019 at 11:13 am
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    If you feel the need to publish a list like this, reader criticisms are clearly hitting a nerve. Of course newspapers have always had their detractors. But if you’re truly confident in your output, you rise above it and let the product speak for itself. I’m getting increasingly fed up with newspapers “hitting back” at their readers. Desperate stuff.

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  • March 27, 2019 at 11:32 am
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    The tone and language seems a wee bit aggressive to be honest and would put me off a bit if I was a reader.

    Twas ever thus when it comes to working for local papers, it’s the only job I can think of where a complete stranger in the pub feels they’ve got carte blanche to tell you your industry/employer is rubbish. Can’t imagine them saying that to a web designer, plumber, pretty much anyone else.

    I think newspaper companies and journalists now also give too much credence to online opinions and social media comments. A couple of my old colleagues are always on Twitter defending the quality of their stories against some amateur Bob Woodward. It’s a complete waste of life.

    The real people you want to please are the people who actually pay hard earned money for your paper, many of whom have been reading it for decades, as long as they’re happy that’s fine. What some basement dweller who still lives with his mum despite being 58 jibes about you in the FREE comments section under your stories should register not a jot, pearls before swine.

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  • March 27, 2019 at 11:51 am
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    Media Pundit. As you might know they are in the JPI empire. A company so proud of its sales record that it does not submit ABC figures, presumably in case advertisers spot the figures. Judging by the quality of writing in this piece it is easy to see why circulation of some JPI weeklies is at heart attack level.

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  • March 27, 2019 at 2:17 pm
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    These criticisms are common to nearly all local newspaper websites, not just DT. The readers (generally!) aren’t stupid and can see through all the clickbait and adverts dressed up as stories, no matter how many different ways the journos try and polish them up. However, even if she has a point, Sophie Wills’ tone is not going to influence and make friends of readers. This was the trouble with introducing comments areas: they draw the reader in and increase their page dwell time, but readers can also leave comments that do damage and turn other readers off the overall product! Another example where putting all your eggs in the internet basket and actively running down your print side hasn’t really been properly thought through…

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  • March 27, 2019 at 2:40 pm
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    It’s worth noting that several Derbyshire Times reporters have been involved in a Twitter spat with readers today over the publication of a story claiming to reveal “how many people in Derbyshire are having affairs”. This is a story based on a press release from a widely discredited company which has reportedly been refused advertising slots in many mainstream publications. Fake news? Possibly. Great journalism? Definitely not.

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  • March 27, 2019 at 4:18 pm
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    I think the newspaper doth protest too much. There have – and always will be – the pub bore who thinks he/she knows better but hasn’t a clue about issues such as libel etc. It’s the same at present with MPs moaning that the Brexit terms are too strong/aren’t strong enough but don’t actually say what they should be. So it is with the anti-nedwspaper brigade: they protest about certain stories but don’t say what should begin the paper. Ever thus and ever will be I am sorry to say.

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  • March 28, 2019 at 9:23 am
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    Newspaper counters ‘bad journalism’ claims by publishing clickbait listicle.

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  • March 28, 2019 at 1:43 pm
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    So after all these comments I thought I’d go and have a look.

    Here are some of the stories we’re encouraged to click to from their news index page online.

    As for the ‘headlines’ section…. it’s still loading up.

    Eric Cantona is encouraging Brits to make an exit from Brexit
    Ten snakes and lizards that could be lurking in your garden right now
    48% of people from Midlands believe breakfast is incomplete without eggs
    Four days until original Brexit date: what do you need to know?
    When are the Easter school holidays in Derbyshire – do you know your dates?
    East Midlands drivers spend more on fuel than in any other part of UK

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