Fact-checking and the press

Ah, lovely. Last night i started my onw woman crusade to eradicate the dread £60,000 figure from the pages of our national press.

You’d think it easy enough. After all, its a single figure in a story each time. My post on how it appeared to arrive there is pretty comprehensive, setting out how most of the press were quoting £10,000 for MtF surgery before 2009 – and how they switched to £60,000 after a Sun piece on a FtM transition in that year…and seem to have got stuck.

And if you’re writing for the national press (or local, come to that) stories can come in and need to be written, checked and up within a very short time frame indeed. My record, i think, was twenty minutes from release of government budget figures to haveing 450 words written and filed: other journalists work just as fast when needs must.

However, for some reason that’s not how it goes when one attempts to correct something. First stop last night the Sun newsdesk, where a nice young man gave out the MD’s e-mail address and explained i’d have to write to him.

But…i started. No but’s: that was “procedure”, and i had to rein myself back to prevent the dialogue turning into confrontation.

Similar story this morning with the Telegraph, who tried to get me to submit an official statement to their “complaints department”. No thanks. I rang the newsdesk instead and got a helpful woman who gave out an e-mail address and asked me to drop a line.

However, several hours on and neither paper has done anything.

Meanwhile, over at the Lancashire Telegraph an initially amicable conversation with somebody editorial threatened to turn a tad sour when i said i didn’t wish to take the matter to the pcc. Er: was i threatening? No. Honest: i’d rather not take the matter to the pcc, cause i know what a dog’s breakfast they make of stuff like this and i know that local press could do without the hassle.

Anyway, written submission made, and i wait developments – although, again, nothing back from them several hours later.

Meanwhile, i am having difficulties talking with Southend. That is, the rag down in that neck of the woods that coarried the £60k figure in context of the Miranda Lee story. Perhaps they don’t work on a Monday. I’ll try again – and try tomorrow.

Last up, a good chat to the Press Officer over at West London Mental Health who, after what felt like initial suspicion (omg! a journo asking about gender re-assignment costs) was very helpful and promised to see what cost figures she could extract for me.

So there you have it.

Papers are very very quick to put stories up when it suits them. But getting them down again always seems to involve “procedure”.

Forgive me if i suspect that is just another word for foot-dragging.



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