Ever the Twain – why let the facts stand in the way of a good story?

Despite my headline quoting the brilliant Mark Twain, in the example I’m commenting on here, we’re dealing with what I, as a former broadsheet journalist, would have ‘spiked’ instantly.  Yes, dear reader, yet another non-story rather than a worthwhile piece of news was touted to a tabloid diary by a freelancer earlier this week…and published!

If this ‘story’ had ‘legs’ – which it could do in the due fullness of time – I would have been more than happy to provide the stringer in question with the opportunity to sell it in and gain us some high profile national coverage for our client.  However, it became apparent just how lacking in gravitas this non-story was when the paper in question went on to publish a piece that was riddled with extraordinary inaccuracies. Well it would have been far too boring otherwise.

There were clearly a number of questions surrounding the ‘story’ (as submitted to the paper by said stringer) and these were subsequently checked with me by a bona fide journalist working for the diary in question.  Phone calls were made, emails were sent, and attributed quotes were supplied from our side to try and ensure that at least whatever was published was accurate.  Despite our best efforts, a load of complete and factually incorrect twaddle appeared in print and in the online edition of the newspaper.

No real harm done … but lessons have been learned!

Fortunately no one was harmed in the making up of this story and being the professionals that we are, we all rise above such nonsense – today’s ‘news’ is tomorrow’s fish & chip paper and all that. However, we feel obliged to remove the journalist from our media database owing to a total lack of integrity – it’s only the second time I’ve taken that decision during 28 years of working in PR.

We can’t run the risk of communicating on behalf of our clients with those few folk who elect not to listen and who plough on with a sell-in, regardless of the facts, and for their own benefit.

So, we’ve hit the ‘delete’ button and barred the phone numbers.



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