The Editor-in Chief of the Daily Mail, Paul Dacre, chose to single out the Media Standards Trust for special mention in his NewstrAid speech at London’s Ritz Hotel on Tuesday 28th October (link).
Unfortunately Mr Dacre’s references to the MST were not accurate. We correct them here for the record.
Of the Media Standards Trust Mr Dacre said:
“And lastly, to that self-appointed so-called “watchdog” the Media Standards Trust – seemingly so beloved of judges – I say, remember your links to the body that, through scandalously inept journalism, heinously defamed Lord McAlpine in the last months of his life.
And oh, remember the award you made to a left-wing journalist who subsequently, it emerged, filled his articles with plagiarism. Yes, we sometimes get things wrong, but so do you.”
For the record:
- We assume that ‘the body’ Mr Dacre is referring to is The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ). The Media Standards Trust had no links to ‘the body’ that made false allegations against Lord McAlpine in November 2012, has never worked with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, and had no involvement with the programme concerned.
- The Media Standards Trust does not make any awards. Mr Dacre is presumably referring to the Orwell Prize for political writing, which the MST supports and administrates. A prize was awarded to Johann Hari in 2008 and was later returned after an investigation which revealed his entries did not meet the standards required by the Orwell Prize.
- Regarding Mr Dacre’s comment that the MST is ‘beloved by judges’, it is not clear what his evidence is for this or whether he means it as a criticism or a compliment.
The MST does get things wrong, though not in the cases referred to by Mr Dacre.
Separately in his speech Mr Dacre promotes the press self-regulator IPSO. The Daily Mail played a key role in establishing IPSO, and it has just been revealed that Mr Dacre will be the Chair of the new Editors’ Code of Practice Committee. Mr Dacre was previously Chair of the PCC’s Editors’ Code of Practice Committee.
The MST assessment of IPSO found that IPSO fulfilled only 12 of Leveson’s 38 recommendations for an independent and effective self-regulator. That assessment has not been rebutted. IPSO is also, as we note in a post published today, becoming even more dependent on the major publishers.
In his speech Mr Dacre makes frequent reference to “the only people who matter – the readers”. Public opinion polls repeatedly show that newspaper readers – including Daily Mail readers – consistently reject a press self-regulator established without any external scrutiny and without proper independence.