The Mail does it again….

Amazing, isn’t it? Some good news for the Goth community – reported as such by almost every news outlet in the country. And only the Daily Mail can slur that into a veiled attack on the trans community.

I’m not going to link to the DM piece, because I don’t really wish to up their click rate – and hoefully, if they have any sense, they will amend the online version pdq. Though it’s in the hard copy as well.

Just take it from me that the quotes i cite below are for real at this moment in time.

So. Here’s the letter/e-mail i just pinged off to Alex Bannister, Managing Editor of the Daily Mail:

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

A quick line to raise a matter of inaccuracy in a piece on Goths and hate crime, appearing both in the print and online version of your paper today.

The story may be found at: {link}

There are several inaccuracies in it.

Is the Daily Mail a UK paper?

The first relates to how the Daily Mail regards itself as a newspaper. If an England-only newspaper, then it is broadly correct to say that “Courts will not be able to impose harsher sentences, however, unless the law changes” in respect of Goths. That is not true of Scotland, where courts already have this power under common law. I asked the individual who answered the phone in your office (C…) whether you considered yourselves an English or UK newspaper. She answered: “a UK one”.

It is a relatively common error to make. As someone who has done a fair amount of law reporting, in my younger days i was often taken to task for failing to remember that the Scottish and English legal systems were different. I would expect better of a reporter on a major UK paper.

Slur and inaccuracies

More serious are two inaccuracies, with the worst repeated twice, and a major slur on a minority.

The slur lies in the headline and is also woven into the piece, in that it clearly attempts to represent being transgender as a subculture on a par with deciding to like certain types of music.

The first direct inaccuracy lies in the suggestion that “Transgender people will also be covered in the policy change which GMP hopes will be followed by other forces”.

That would surprise me, both in this being a policy “change” in respect of trans people and of a hope that it will be taken up by other forces. I spoke to GMP just two minutes ago: the individual handling press on this issue stated – without prompting – that what your reporter had written was “an inaccuracy”. That trans hate crime was one of five strands of hate crime already reported by GMP – and that GMP had been one of the first forces in the country to record anti-trans hate crimes.

But my guess is that right now EVERY force would be recording such crimes because a) to the best of my knowledge , most have been doing so for years and b) as my GMP contact also added: trans hate crime is an offence under the law.

Does the Daily Mail rely on Wikipedia for its legal information?

Which brings me to the second direct inaccuracy, and again, as someone with experience in reporting the law, makes me want to bang my head on a desk. Hate crime is NOT restricted to offences involving racial or religious aggravation. The only place i can find that argued is on Wikipedia – and i really hope your journalists are doing better than using that as a source for national news.

There are now five strands of hate crime, including disability, sexual orientation and gender identity. Here’s a useful link to the CPS on the subject: you’d think they know a thing or two about the topic!

Anyhow. Once you get that hate crime applies not to TWO strands, but to five, then the following statements are also inaccurate:

“The force will record such incidents on music fans as hate crimes in a similar way to attacks on people due to race, religion, disability, or sexual orientation. Transgender people will also be covered in the policy change which GMP hopes will be followed by other forces.

“Courts will not be able to impose harsher sentences, however, unless the law changes.”

Nope. Courts can already impose harsher sentences for crimes against transgender individuals. Check out s65 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, which came into force on 3 December 2012.

Also:

“Certain offences, including assault, harassment, criminal damage and public order offences, can be prosecuted specifically as racially or religiously aggravated offences and receive a harsher sentence.

“But there are no harsher sentences for crimes based on hostility towards gender identity or alternative subcultures.”

Ooops. No, again. See above.

Does the Daily Mail have an anti-trans agenda?

You may remember that last week, at the time of the vigil by the trans community outside your offices, i did try to meet with you to put various questions about the Daily Mail’s reporting of trans issues. For a variety of reasons, you were unable to attend – and no other senior staff member was able to talk with me. However, that offer remains on the table, and, as i have said elsewhere, i will happily report directly any answers you care to give and provide readback on any piece i write for publication.

The GMP decision, quite clearly, relates to Goths and is the result of a campaign by the Sophie Lancaster foundation, following a particularly appalling attack on a member of that community back in 2007. That is news.

Only the Mail, as far as i can see, has sought to broaden that news by relating it to the trans community – and you have done so by, if i am charitable, simply not researching what the law already is in this area… and if i am less charitable, by simply lying about what police forces already do and what the law is in this area. At best, its bad journalism. At worst, its actually a form of incitement.

I look forward to your response on this matter at the earliest: but in any case, would expect all inaccuracies to be gone within one hour of receipt of this mail. Its not rocket science. Journalists are expected to check facts and stories can go from zilch to live within that time scale. Check out the links i’ve given you: remove the inaccuracies.

All the best,

Janexx

ETA: OK…on this one, full credit to the Mail for responding promptly (quick call from one of their Assistant Editors), removing the original piece and…putting up an alternative version, which i AM linking to here.

Couldn’t possibly say, but i expect at least one reporter is in for a mild roasting later today…

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About janefae

On my way from here to there
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4 Responses to The Mail does it again….

  1. Helen Heaton says:

    Well done Jane. Nice to see them actually respond to something for once.

  2. Great Result, Well done Jane

  3. Claire says:

    Its still inaccurate though. It says one of the strands is “transgender identity”‘ it’s not. It’s gender. Big difference!

  4. alexkingsley says:

    Just wanted to show my appreciation for taking to task the Daily Mail in such an effective manner, and congrats on the results.

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