Media Reform Coalition’s damning conclusions published this morning
A damning new report just published by the Media Reform Coalition (MRC) in cooperation with Hacked Off and other groups accuses the Times newspaper of a ‘litany of falsehoods about Muslims’ that has fuelled racism and hate crimes.
The report, authored by leading journalist Brian Cathcart, co-founder of Hacked Off and Press Gang editor Paddy French, examines the paper’s conduct around the publication of articles targeting Muslims and concludes that the Times neglected even basic fact-checking and left out important context – and concludes that its stories amplified anti-Muslim racism and fuelled hate crimes.
It goes as far as to state that:
“Our examination of the facts leads us to conclude that the scandals Norfolk described did not occur.”
An MRC press release this morning summarises:
The report examines:
– three sensational investigations that exposed scandals and made headlines
– written by one of Britain’s leading journalists – Andrew Norfolk
– and published in one of the world’s best known newspapers – the Times.
Two experienced journalists found:
– the scandals exposed didn’t happen
– basic journalistic standards were sacrificed to create these stories.
The report accuses the Times and its Chief Investigative Reporter Andrew Norfolk of failing to meet journalistic standards including, among other failures:
- omitting or minimising “facts that would have led readers to question central elements of what was being alleged” and
- using quotations out of context “in ways that left them open to misinterpretation”
Every journalist makes mistakes, but we find it difficult to understand how a single senior reporter could have made, or been allowed to make, errors of judgement of this kind in articles of such importance and such obvious sensitivity.
The report also accuses the Times of “resisting complaints and criticisms in defiance of the evidence” and of failing to make any meaningful corrections to the “significant inaccuracies” published.
MRC chair Natalie French said:
A pattern of systematic misreporting has once again been exposed at one of Britain’s most respected newspapers. As this report attests, The Times repeatedly failed to do basic fact checking in a number of stories targeting Muslims and routinely omitted essential context. This resulted not just in a litany of falsehoods about Muslims, but served to amplify an increasingly prevalent Islamophobia and fuel an emboldened racist agenda in the context of a rise in hate crimes. This kind of reporting would be unacceptable in any publication, but it is particularly egregious given The Times’ claim to be Britain’s ‘newspaper of record’. That the newspaper has failed to respond to the allegations serves as a chilling reminder of press unaccountability. The Media Reform Coalition is today calling for The Times to launch an urgent, independent and credible investigation into its reporting on Muslims. Both its readers and the wider public deserve to know how such a blatant lapse of professional standards occurred and what will be done to prevent it happening again.
The full report can be downloaded here.
The Times and Andrew Norfolk have been asked for comment.
Hate crime – particularly anti-Muslim hate crime – continues to increase. Meanwhile, the Establishment is using accusations of fake news in order to censor independent news sources, while ignoring the avalanche of fake news from the so-called mainstream.
It is essential that the independent investigation demanded by the reports authors takes place – and does so publicly, with no aspect of its process or conclusions hidden.
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