18 June 2016

The Independent way of publishing libel, Peter Yeung and modern journalism

To start with the conclusion: if you ever expected to see dry factual information, checked and double checked by the newspaper's staff, under the rubric "News" - you can now forget it. The brave new world of the modern media has made a big step over that red line that once separated news from opinions, not to mention fairy tales and libel.

And here is one of the tools of that tectonic change: Peter Yeung, whose bio is linked and who (if you don't want to click through) describes himself in Twitter format as "Freelance journalist @Guardian @BBC @Independent @Telegraph & others".

Said Mr Yeung published in the Indy an article, which headline and the mandatory for the topic picture are:

Of course, as its big brother, BBC, uses to, the online editor was wise enough to insert quotation marks in the headline, not that it makes no nevermind to any reader, does it? The story came originally from Al Jazeera. Since publication of that article, some water has passed under the bridge. Under some pressure from CAMERA, Al Jazeera modified the article, making it a bit more palatable. As you can see in the linked CAMERA report, Peter Yeung didn't respond to their inquiries at the time.

UK Media Watch also contributed to debunking of the libelous (save the quotation marks, of course) story. It is a worthy read by itself.

But, aside of a good debunking, linked above, UK Media Watch discovered an even better pearl, one that inexorably leads to the conclusion that starts this post. While being one of the tools in that media revolution, Peter Yeung appears to be a tool in the other sense of the word, so he blurted out what, most probably, is today's unwritten editorial policy of Indy:
So how do you like them chickens? First you sell an allegation as a news item, then, since it's "only" an allegation, you might as well feel free not to correct it, when it appears to be a libelous one.

And all that is safely covered by a pair of quotation marks.

So there.

P.S. Did I mention that Indy employees and managers (freelancers included) are "the main providers of bicycle seats' sniffers, pedophiles, petty animal store thieves, flashers and vice squad stool pigeons - all at the same time"?

Just in case Mr Yeung decides to erase his stupid slip of the tongue...