I’ve been in the press (all forms) quite a lot over the last year. The MAJORITY of the reports I was featured in, were either factually incorrect, I was misquoted or… they completely made up elements of my story! I’ve even had copyrighted photos stolen from me, by journalists, and republished with the newspapers own watermarks!
Stories in newspapers, particularly, seem to be grossly exaggerated or completely erroneous, quite often. In the case of my story – most often!
So why is this?
I put it down to two things:
1) Sloppy Journalism
2) Lazy journalism
We’ll start with sloppy…
Those newspapers that actually do take the time to make contact with you and get an interview or quote, don’t always copy things down accurately. They speed-write notes and then when typing up, slot parts of the interview in, where they feel it will make the story more dramatic – rather than where, when or how, they actually happened. This is sloppy. This leads to inaccuracies in the report, and leaves the subject of the report feeling angry. It also opens up the arena for criticism, because readers think it is the person in the story, that told it wrong, rather than the sloppy journo!
Contrary to popular belief – Newspapers often do not pay people for their stories. They usually just take them from other newspapers, change them a little bit, and republish them. Most often, without the subject of the article, even knowing about it! This is where even more inaccuracies occur – consequently opening up the subject of the story, to a whole barrage of criticism.
Take my story, for example.
Last year, I fought Thyroid Cancer. I had radioactive iodine treatment, which meant that for a while (7 days in May and 3 days in November), I was radioactive, and could not go within 2 metres of anyone – including my own family. Although my story was not unusual, due to my raising awareness on my blog, the media made my story international and I was coined “radioactive mum”. In December I got given the all-clear from Cancer and I started a fundraising campaign called #EmmasArmy.
What did the media say?
In Jan 2014, I’ve found my story in several newspapers again. One of which, stating that I had been radioactive for 7 MONTHS and showing a photo of my “first hug” with my children. The photo they used, was actually the photo used in the papers in May 2013, after I was cleared to cuddle my children following my first round of radiotherapy. I was radioactive for 7 DAYS, not 7 MONTHS.
One national newspaper called my internal radiotherapy a “pioneering new treatment”, when actually, radioiodine has been used for decades as a treatment for thyroid conditions.
Another paper and a few online news articles stated in May 2013 that I had “been given the all-clear”. This was the most upsetting of mistakes, as I was very much still fighting cancer at the time. I wasn’t given the all-clear until December 2013.
My wedding photos, taken by a fantastic professional photographer, and a few of my own photos were seen published in national newspapers, with SWNS copyright watermarks. I can guarantee you, they most certainly did not have ANY rights to those pictures. I had made it quite clear, that any photos used, must correctly credit the photographer, but the press think themselves above such rights and claimed them regardless.
I received criticism for the inaccuracies of my story in different publications and I received criticism for “selling my story”. The truth is, I was not given a single penny for my story and I have only ever given print media three interviews – all to the same local paper. All the national newspapers, the online papers and the international papers, made up their own stories. They took quotes from the local paper or from my blog and I assume they bought my photos from the local paper too.
My story is interesting and inspiring in it’s own right. That’s why my blog gets so many pageviews. So why do journalists feel the need to dramatise stories and lie?
Well, it is my humble opinion, that it is just bad, sloppy or lazy journalism. You want to read a true story? Read an exclusive, or read a blog!