3-in-1 PCC Complaint

April 3, 2009 at 1:04 pm (Media) (, , , , , , , , , , )


This is probably a waste of my time*. Nevertheless, I have decided to complain to the PCC about the failure of the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph to respond to my criticism of their pieces on red meat and blindness (or the Mail’s piece on the brain’s God spot). Reproduced below is the letter:

Dear Sir or Madam,

I wish to complain about two recent articles (in the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail) that reported on the risks of eating red meat.

Section 1 of the PCC code relates to accuracy:

i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures.

ii) A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion once recognised must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and – where appropriate – an apology published.

iii) The Press, whilst free to be partisan, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.

I believe that the two articles in question have breached the PCC code, as they are (variously) inaccurate, misleading and distorted. The articles taken as a whole are both misleading and distorted. In addition to the misleading and distorted nature of these articles, the reporting also contains specific inaccuracies. The reporting of the Mail and Telegraph was contradictory to the advice of the Royal College of Ophthalmology (RCOP). The claim of the Daily Telegraph that eating red meat raises the risk of blindness by half is also contradicted by figures given in the ARMD guidelines of the RCOP.

I have contacted both newspapers by email to complain about these articles. I did not receive a reply. I contacted both newspapers seven days later in order to find out whether they had printed any clarification, as I had been unable to find any such thing. I still have not been contacted by either newspaper. The only response I have had was an automated email from the Daily Mail’s server.

I also contacted the Daily Mail with regards a story that claimed “Scientists discover the brain’s ‘God spot’… and show that faith helps human survival”. This article, too, was distorted and misleading. It was also inaccurate in that the scientists in question hadn’t, in fact, shown that faith helps human survival – this was opinion that was tacked onto the headline and presented as fact.

Kind regards,

James Cole.


*I think that the PCC is ineffective and have called for reform. My letters to the editors of the Mail and Telegraph are here. My post about the red meat/blindness story is here and my post on the God spot story is here. JQH recently wrote to the Daily Mail and the PCC regarding the Fail’s abysmal coverage of the HPV vaccine. Also: I have added a new blogroll section for media blogs / resources (near the bottom of the sidebar to the right of this post).


  1. JohnED said,

    I came to this post via your post on the pcc email. I was just wondering if you thought it was effective doing 3 complaints in one, or if you would do three individual complaints next time?

  2. jdc325 said,

    I should do three individual complaints next time and see if it works out any better. I could call it a “pilot study” and publish the results on my blog, calling for further, more rigorous trials to be undertaken.

    I had suspected that a 3-in-1 might not work as well as sending individual complaints, but the response I got seemed to indicate that the PCC looked at the complaints individually, so I’m not sure it makes much difference in practice.

  3. Man Bites Dog! Or: Daily Mail Manage Fairly Accurate Headline. Eventually. « jdc325's Weblog said,

    […] then wrote to the Press Complaints Commission and stated that I believed the Mail was in breach of section 1 of the PCC code (”The Press […]

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