Saturday, 21 September 2013

Poor, lazy journalism, the need for accuracy and correcting errors when they are made

I've long since given up reading the Chester Chron, Frodsham & Helsby edition - and especially since they no longer have a local journalist reporting on Frodsham events.  They get things wrong - and have got things spectacularly wrong this week.

Now I know that the individual who writes the headlines is not necessarily the same individual who writes the article - and often the two bear no relation.   This is the case this week too.

The Chron has published a comment piece about the plans for the closed recreation area on Park Lane. However the headline says:

'Castle Park sell-off plan blasted by descendant of land's original owners.'

The headline is wrong, and in my view gives false and misleading impressions.  This is because:

  1. Park Lane Recreation Ground has nothing to do with Castle Park;
  2. Castle Park is owned by CWaC under the terms of a Charitable Trust;
  3. Park Lane Recreation Ground is owned by FTC
  4. There are no plans to sell off Castle Park - I am working hard to expand the events being put on in the park
The photograph of Castle Park House, Footman's Cottage and the formal garden with the caption 'Gift to the People' has nothing to do with Park Lane.

The errors continue with the bold assertion:
'Area was given 'on condition of the land being used as a recreation ground.''

No it wasn't!

Using the word 'given' is wrong and very misleading as is the rest of the statement.

The land was bought for £50 in November 1939.  No conditions were imposed on its sale by the vendors.  It was the parish council at the time who declared that the land was to be used for a recreation ground - this was not a condition imposed by those selling the land.

Anyone - and that includes the Chronicle could check their facts by asking to inspect the Land Registry title details - either with the Land Registry or with FTC.  These errors are so fundamental I wonder whether the piece has been put together by an intern.  I can't believe that a journalist of David Holmes's experience would make such basic errors.

Now I learned from a source this morning that Cllr Pennington apparently considers my first blog relating to the sale of Park Lane to contain an error.  I reported in that blog that the public meeting last Saturday had been 'brought together by Cllr Pennington.'  I genuinely thought that this was the case  - however I am more than happy to correct the apparent error.

Cllr Pennington I apologise for any discomfort I may have given you by that statement and I accept your word that you didn't bring the event together.  I will also amend the wording of that blog.

Anyone reading the Chronicle piece will also see a prominent picture of Cllr Pennington in the same article.  Cllr Pennington - now you make sure the Chronicle corrects its errors!