An editor has hit back at what he termed “snarling disapproval” of his journalists’ coronavirus coverage, after readers accused them of sensationalising the crisis.
In an editorial responding to critics of the Times, John explained that publishing a stream of live updates on the developing situation was the “most efficient way” of covering it.
He went on to say he was “deeply disheartened” to see Times journalists being “accused of sensationalism and worse”.
John, pictured, wrote: “It is understandable that in facing a welter of stories about coronavirus the reaction of some people is to accuse newspapers of scaremongering. They feel, perhaps, that things might be better if we played things down, or perhaps even ignored the story.
“This is dangerous thinking. Our job as journalists is to give people as much information about the world around them as possible so they can make informed decisions.
“Frequently, on stories such as coronavirus – as well as topics such as extreme weather or large events attended by many people – we publish a stream of live updates.
“They are the most efficient way of covering a constantly developing news story. They are not intended to sensationalise information, but to get continually changing details to our readers in the fastest and most accurate way possible.”
John went on to say information being published by medical experts was not “intended to scare people, but is the reality of what the UK is facing and the seriousness with which the government is treating it”.
He added: “An unprecedented situation such as this is bound to cause alarm. We understand that. But local updates on an escalating global situation is responsible journalism.
“As an editor, I find it deeply disheartened to see my journalists being accused of sensationalism and worse. They are committed, hard-working people trying to ensure that our community is kept informed in a responsible way using verified sources.
“I know that not everyone will find the stories we publish interesting, but the reality is that there is a great demand for information about coronavirus, and we are responding to it.
“Our message to our more impolite detractors is brief. We have a job to do, and we will continue to do for the good of all, regardless of your snarling disapproval.”
Posting a link to John’s editorial on Twitter, Times reporter Charlotte Moreau said: “The sheer level of abuse leveled at journalists for not only doing our job, but truly trying to help our communities stay informed is shocking.
“I am a Herefordian, I am a parent, I am in the same boat as everyone else.”