Eumonia’s Peter Jones has again forced the Daily Mail to correct parts of a critical article about local authority household collections.
Jones complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) about an opinion column by Richard Littlejohn in August 2015, and has written at length on the Isonomia blog site of his “several months of painstaking argument” which has resulted in changes or the deletion of nine separate comments.
In March 2014, the same paper was compelled to remove articles on waste and recycling issues and publish corrections after Jones complained to the Press Complaints Commission.
Jones’ latest skirmish was about observations from Littlejohn prompted by CCTV footage of a collection in Leeds when the crew removed bags from an over-filled bin and left them on the side of the road.
In the Isonomia blog, Jones acknowledges that this incident was unacceptable but takes exception to Littlejohn using it for “a scattergun gripe attack on all aspects of council waste collection”.
These are discussed in detail, including the assertions that have been withdrawn or modified. The online version of the article was last updated on 31 December and no longer includes the nine contentious points.
Jones says the conclusion is “a rather less inaccurate but still pretty unsatisfactory article”, but he believes that challenging such assertions has an effect on journalists.
“One key reason is that tabloid newspapers tend (with unwitting irony) to recycle their anti-recycling claims and forcing them to withdraw points makes it less likely that they will be repeated. Coming up with new inventions at least requires more effort on their part!”
He warns in the blog that because waste is a key point of contact between councils and the public, it is an area where criticism will resonate most widely and that “the disparaging of council waste services is set to continue”.
“Occasionally, councils will mess up and, when they do, they deserve criticism – but it’s important that unfair arguments, based on untruths, are challenged rather than being allowed to be repeated freely,” he writes.
- In May 2015, Jones also successfully caused the Daily Express to modify an article on recycling practices