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Help newspapers cover health and science more accurately

January 23, 2011

I was interested by @lecanardnoir’s tweet: “That despicable Daily Mail story that linked a tragic death to a flu vaccine has now been changed. “.

The original tragic story (published online) had made a passing reference in its last line to the flu jab, which might have led some readers to make a link between Leah La Roche’s death and vaccination.

However, by the time the article went to print the next day, the flu jab reference did not appear in the print newspaper and had been removed from the online copy.

So what happened? Did @lecanardnoir’s twitter help the Mail edit its story?

I have never worked as a daily news journalist, but I get the impression that the following series of events is likely to have happened. First, a story arrives on the news desk and is put online quickly, with very little editing. Later in the day, the story is properly edited before going to print (and is also revised online).

Nevertheless, it is quite possible that in this case, @lecanardnoir’s twitter helped the editing process.

Either way, if you spot an error in online story, it is worth politely contacting the publication as soon as possible. You may prompt a correction before going to print, or you may get a correction made online. In terms of the Daily Mail, the people to contact are: (health) (science)

It is probably worth writing to whoever is more appropriate, and then copy the email to the other.




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