22 July 2007

Pathetic Observer non-apology

I posted about this a couple of weeks ago.

Today, buried well inside the paper and after the editorials and most commentaries was a "clarification."

Really, this is just not good enough. Speaking with friends last night, they are strongly influenced by such reporting (which was of course copied and run by the other mainstream press groups). We have trusted our newspapers to give fair and balanced reports based on fact. This article and its subsequent coverage in the other press has set back public understanding of this subject by several years and unreasonably made the public question science even more, ironically when it is proper science that is the only way to truth in this, rather than the mumbo-jumbo "science" practised by Wakefield. Will The Observer make an apology over their sycophantic piece on him from the same edition after he is found guilty of professional misconduct by the BMA, as he surely will be? There are serious consequences of this public misunderstanding.

I will leave it to Ben Goldacre (Bad Science columnist at the Guardian) to give his verdict on the Observer "clarification", with suitable links to the whole sorry story. (Ben, I don't think they made a hash of apologising! They didn't apologise at all for the article and the mistakes - only a weak apology for not trying harder to contact one of the people they quoted! Surely, an apology for actually quoting somebody you didn't speak to wouldn't have been too difficult would it as a start?)

I am still considering abandoning my subscription to the Observer over this. Today's article makes that more likely not less. They had a chance to set the record straight, but all they've done is to compound their mistakes and demonstrate that they either don't get it, or don't want to get it.

UPDATE: I have indeed cancelled my subscription for the Observer. It doesn't save me very much - just about £10 per year, as I will now revert to just a Guardian subscription. I have also complained to the Readers' Editor. I feel better!

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