Insight and analysis from Press Gazette editor Dominic Ponsford

Mail may have perpetuated Winterval myth - but it deserves credit for killing it off

In addition to today's "Winterval" correction - the Daily Mail has deleted references to Winterval from the article which prompted the reader complaints.

The 25 September Melanie Phillips article now carries the following addendum: "A previous version of this article stated that Christmas has been renamed in various places Winterval. Winterval was the collective name for a season of public events, both religious and secular, which took place in Birmingham in 1997 and 1998. We are happy to make clear that Winterval did not rename or replace Christmas."

It is the clearest indication yet that the Mail is taking its new commitment to accuracy and correcting errors - as revealed by editor Paul Dacre last month - seriously.

The Mail has even garnered praise, and joy unbridled, from some of its detractors in the left of centre blogging fraterni - such as Steven Baxter writing for the New Statesman.

"The more noise we made, the more it seemed that the stories would return. Winterval was the politically correct way of referring to Christmas; it was taking Christ out of Christmas; it was part of the PC killjoys' attempts to de-Christianise Britain and bring us all into an Iron Curtain world of secularist misery. The myth kept on coming back - every year, at Christmas time, or before...

"Now, thanks to the Mail's sensible and ethical new policy of correcting and clarifying where possible, there's the chance to see these things rectified. There it is, in black and white: Christmas was not renamed Winterval. Whenever someone tells you it was, you can point out that the Mail admitted it wasn't. You can even link to the original piece, where a correction has been made underneath the article."

While the Mail may have been one of the many outlets to glibly repeat the Winterval myth (and writers across the board of the media have done the same). It says a lot about the power of the Mail brand, that today's little page two correction has probably killed Winterval off.

UPDATE: The Guardian now has a handy round-up of how the Winterval myth came about and what it says about "bad journalism".


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