Well, its been a frustrating day, not talking to the Telegraph.
Yesterday i spoke with someone who described herself as an Assistant Managing Editor. I attempted to call back this morning, but to no avail. According to the switchboard, they had no-one of that title working for them.
Which sort of wasn’t right, because later that day i rang back and got through to Jenny Hatton in the Managing Editor’s Office who described herself as… Assistant Managing Editor. Since, in the morning, the switchboard had also attempted to put me through to someone who had supposedly left two years previously, it seems that inaccuracy at the Telegraph extends beyond what goes into what they publish…and infects their internal directory as well.
I’ve also spent much of today trying to get thru to the legal department. But they have been in a meeting or out to lunch or, for all i know, lying comatose on the floor for all the good its done me. They ain’t picking up their phone, apart from one very nice woman who promised to get someone to call back and…well, you’ve guessed the rest.
Still. I spoke with Ms Hatton a second time today, following up on yesterday’s call in which she informed me that the correct way to complain to the Telegraph is to put it in an e-mail and send it to the Legal Department. She had now done this for me (procedures must be followed, after all!), and she clearly felt that we had no more to dicsuss.
Fair enough. Sort of. Though i did pass on the sentiment that while an error of which a paper is unaware is, well, an error or inaccuracy, an error that they are aware of and continue to publish is heading into the territory of a lie.
Communication from the blogs editor
I had no sooner put the phone down on her when an e-mail pinged into my inbox. This one from Blogs Editor, Damien Thompson. He writes: “I understand that you wish to complain about the above blog.
“Please would you set out in writing the precise details of your complaint.”
Ah. The old power play. They won’t listen to me unless I conform to their way of doing things.
Which is actually a dangerous game to play. Because the mood i am beginning to sense on the street is of a lot of people starting to set up their own rules and asking – politely at first – that the press play by them. But as i always say when dealing with companies that have screwed up – and in this the Telegraph is no exception – if you got it wrong, it is a matter of basic politeness that you don’t get to impose the terms of how you put it right.
In this instance, the Telegraph got it wrong. But by dint of claiming that the only thing they can POSSIBLY do is bung the complaint through their snail-like internal systems, they manage and make it very clear to us mere plebs who is in charge. Them.
Which is daft. Because if, at time of writing a piece, someone editorial said to me: “Jane can you substantiate that?” and i couldn’t, it would be pure editorial decision and it would be out. WQhereas apparently, once printed, it is up to legal whether something is in or out.
Anyway, i digress. Mr Thompson’s note, given all that had just gone before, was seriously annoying. I rang. I started – unwisely, perhaps – with a chide. “How dare you expect me to put in writing…”
I’m not altogether sure where i was going with that.
You can guess how i was feeling. The best part of half a dozen calls. The issue explained in some detail to at least one senior bod in the Telegraph: supposedly already passed on to Legal. And now this.
How DARE they!
That is just manipulation beyond manipulation. Though i guess maybe Mr T hadn’t been told of the substance of my complaint. If not, apologies. But if he had, he deserved it, because if he already knew the substance of my complaint, then yes…this WAS power play.
I don’t know. Will never know – unless we bury the hatchet at some point – because his response to my unwise start was a rather cool: “I do not respond to calls that began like that”. And put the phone down.
Jane. Oh, Jane! Calm yourself and maybe breathe deeply before making such calls. I’m far better at doing them with recalcitrant press offices. Which maybe underlines another point i’ve been making of late: that newspapers really ought to have formal press offices and complaint departments. because these calls should NOT be going thru to editors.
ETA: Oh, well. Its a result of sorts. Yes, the grs info was inaccurate, but… (why can’t they just stop there?
Suicide – they seem a tad less fastidious than the New Statesman or Grauniad. And O’Neill somewhat liberally interpreting what i said? Hmmmm…. Don’t think i’ll go to the wall over that one!