Firstly we had the channel 5 presenter Mathew Wright controversially asking via a phone-in debate “Foxy-Knoxy: Would ya?” which led several viewers to complain to the media regulator Ofcom. Gaffe-prone Wright claimed that Knox was “undeniably fit and loved wild sex” and discussed with panellists and viewers whether they would take Amanda Knox home in light of her acquittal for murder. Wright was forced to offer an on-air apology admitting he had made “front page news for all the wrong reasons”.
Now we have heard that the Mail Online has been censored by the Press Complaints Commission after it published the incorrect version of the Amanda Knox case, claiming that she had lost her appeal. The article appeared on the website on the 3rd October for around ninety seconds under the headline “Guilty: Amanda Knox looks stunned as appeal against murder conviction is rejected” before it was replaced with an article reporting the correct outcome.
The incorrect article discussed Knox’s reaction to the verdict, claiming that she “sank into her chair sobbing uncontrollably while her family and friends hugged each other in tears”. It further claimed that Meredith Kercher’s family “remained expressionless, staring straight ahead, glancing over just once at the distraught Knox family”. These reactions were clearly entirely untrue and presupposed, which raises questions over the quality, accuracy and reliability of the media coverage during such high-profile cases.
In defence of its mistake, The Daily Mail issued an online apology claiming that it is standard practice for newspapers to be prepared in advance during such high-profile cases and that several other news outlets had also initially published the incorrect verdict. This is understood to include The Sun website, Sky News and The Guardian’s live blog, though the Mail appeared to be the only news outlet that ran a full-length article. This apology, however, does little to regain our trust and confidence in the coverage we receive from such outlets.