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Editor defends journalists against coronavirus ‘fake news’ jibes

An editor has hit back after her journalists were accused of “scaremongering, sensationalising and fake news” over their coverage of coronavirus.

Yorkshire Evening Post editor Laura Collins has urged readers to “take a moment” before criticising the Leeds-based daily’s reporters online because of stories run about COVID-19.

In an editorial on the subject, Laura quoted two examples of online comments which accused the YEP of “scaremongering” in its coverage of the virus.

Posting on Twitter, she said the phrases “sensationalising” and “fake news” had also been aimed at the paper’s journalists recently.

Laura is the second regional daily editor to face down criticisms of their journalists over coverage of the pandemic.

Last month HTFP reported how Hereford Times editor John Wilson had criticised what he termed “snarling disapproval” of his journalists’ coverage, after readers accused them of sensationalising the crisis.

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In the editorial, published yesterday, Laura wrote: “I can assure you that my title, along with the network of local newspapers up and down the country, take absolutely no pleasure in reporting the scale of the unfolding crisis.

“My reporters are faced with the unenviable task of combing through the daily releases from the government and NHS officials to report accurately on the number of deaths right here in Leeds.

“This isn’t just about looking at numbers on a crass spreadsheet – these are people’s lives. They are our loved ones and behind every single reported death is the human cost of this global tragedy.

“They are daughters, mothers, fathers, sons and cherished partners who have a whole network of friends and family who care deeply about them. Their grief is also compounded by the very real prospect that they will be unable to say goodbye properly as funeral services are scaled back to cope with the sheer impact of the pandemic.

“The critics are right. It doesn’t make for comfortable reading – it is harsh but at the moment this is a reality. The YEP, as a responsible publisher, has a duty to report accurately what is happening in our city.”

“We can’t stick our heads in the sand as we need to hold officials to account locally and nationally. So that is why we have also been keen to break away from the churn of the news cycle every day and shine a spotlight on those who are spreading happiness at these challenging times.

“We’re also saluting those health heroes on the frontline who are fighting the virus in our city’s hospitals and health centres. Times like this can bring out the very best or the worst in humanity.

“We’re all feeling the strain – we are all worried about our loved ones who we can’t even see for a hug right now. But let’s make sure we’re on the right side of history once we have navigated our way through this challenging episode.

“So the next time anybody feels the urge to take to their keyboards and throw criticism at others I would urge you to take a moment and remember the impact those words have on others.”


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  • April 7, 2020 at 10:14 am

    Have you seen this paper’s ABC? Tragic what’s happened to this once mighty paper.

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  • April 7, 2020 at 4:15 pm

    I’ve not seen much of this from local papers in all honesty, national publications though, absolutely rife.

    Even reporting the daily death rates every day with no explainers is really bad form, little coverage of things like infection rate as that’s not scary enough. Saying that though, sadly, a lot of the national journos peddling this stuff probably don’t understand it anyway, gone are the days of having special correspondents who’ve been covering their area and refining their craft for years are long, long gone.

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