Daily Post editor defends 'carnage' road crash deaths headline after police chief calls it 'heartless'

The editor of the North Wales Daily Post has defended the paper’s description of a weekend of road collisions in the region that left two dead as “carnage” after it was criticised by police as insensitive.

The headline, which read: “Carnage on the roads”, was said by North Wales Police chief constable Mark Polin to have been “particularly harsh”.

In an open letter to the paid-for daily, he accused reporters of having “scant regard for the families concerned or for those whose job it is to help those involved in these tragic incidents”.

“I fully understand that the media have a right and a duty to report events, no matter how tragic, and that headlines are formulated to attract attention,” he said.

“The pressures on the modern media, declining sales in print and the need to provide click-bait driven content on the web have been well documented.

“But the often seemingly heartless, or at least thoughtless way in which the paper and website covers local news amounts to a great disservice to the North Wales public, your own reputation and, more importantly, the victims of tragedies and crimes who have enough to cope with without the local paper adding to their sorrows.

“I would appeal to you to show more humanity and compassion in your coverage of such incidents.”

In response, Daily Post editor Andrew Campbell said: “The Daily Post writes dozens of headlines every day and considers the way they are worded extremely carefully.

“Consideration always includes the effect headlines may have on the victims of accidents or crimes and their families. Sadly, by any measure, last weekend was a tragic one on North Wales roads with two deaths, two people airlifted to hospital and other crash-related injuries.

“Our thoughts, as always, are with the casualties, their families and the emergency services dealing with the aftermath and the Daily Post, like the police, is consistent in its quest to promote and highlight road safety in the region.

“The Daily Post always seeks to avoid adding to the distress of grieving families or anyone affected by accidents – and if we inadvertently do we are quick to rectify and apologise.

“The use of the word ‘carnage’ to describe multiple accidents and deaths is common within the media and in this instance was definitely not published to offend or to sensationalise. It was a headline designed to encapsulate the magnitude of the weekend’s tragic events.

“The Daily Post would strongly refute any suggestion that we lack compassion or humanity. Indeed, the Daily Post has long supported the Ty Gobaith charity and other good causes and campaigned over many decades to improve the lives of people in North Wales.

“We will not flinch from telling the news however we always strive to apply sensitivity when dealing with tragic events.

“The Daily Post frequently receives images and information from tragedies or court cases that we feel are too graphic to publish. We refrained from publishing certain pictures last weekend out of respect for the casualties and their families.”

The Daily Post, owned by Trinity Mirror, has an average daily circulation of 22,251, according to ABC data to the end of December last year.

Comments

4 thoughts on “Daily Post editor defends 'carnage' road crash deaths headline after police chief calls it 'heartless'”

  1. In response to Impvan:

    The cited Bristol Observer front page may date back 13-ish years, but is still a relevant example of a disingenuously-presented, gratuitously-hyped, barely-even-local item.

    It would be interesting to see whether any more recent, or indeed pre-2004, examples can be unearthed with wider chasms between a front-page non-story’s actual substance, its misleading headline and its spurious local relevance.

    Admitted, as a former Bristol Observer employee, I hold a grudge as the paper still owes me severance pay plus 12 years’ interest. But this misdirecting headline is still tacky, reader-contemptuous and utterly unprofessional.

  2. The sensationalism inheres less in the headline’s vocabulary than its redtop-style size, typography and abruptness. ‘Carnage’ is a perfectly reasonable, widespread term for a spate of road accidents. The exact same word appears less ‘screaming’ when moderately presented in lower case at a smaller scale amid a less terse headline on page 2.

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