Mail aims for balance after riots hit city

By Sarah Lagan

The journalist in charge of the Birmingham Mail’s coverage of the
rioting in the city at the weekend – sparked off by unsubstantiated
claims that a black 14-year-old girl had been raped by an Asian gang –
has spoken of the importance of the media reporting the events
responsibly.

Deputy editor Carole Cole said: “Throughout we’ve been acutely aware
of measuring the tone, content and balance in our reporting. There was
always the danger of inciting one sector through headlines, choice of
pictures, intros or simply the space given over to quoting one
community leader.

“But through balanced, factual reporting and
thoughtfully chosen words, our coverage of the tensions, resultant
riots and this week’s peace talks and march by mothers and children
have served to deliver breaking news, ahead of other media, without
prompting further anger or alienation among Mail readers.”

The
Birmingham Mail had reporters, photographers, news editors and the
production team working around the clock tracking developments that led
up to the biggest riots in Birmingham for 20 years. Journalists were on
the scene at the church meeting where angry scenes escalated into riots
and first splashed on the tensions on Tuesday last week, carrying front
page reports on calls for peace.

Mark Cowen, the paper’s crime
correspondent, was quick to respond toa tip- off that someone had been
killed and joined photographers to follow police in Lozells through
Saturday night and into Sunday morning.

Community reporter Poppy
Brady used her contacts to secure the first interview with the parents
of a man who was stabbed by rioters. The piece ran in Monday’s issue
which the paper claims was before any other media hadidentified the
victim.

Mail journalists were on the streets all day on Sunday and through to Monday.


Birmingham pirate radio stations Hot FM and Sting FM have apologised
for repeating the rumours that have been accused of fuelling a race
riot. The Voice also featured a front page headline – “Gang of 19 rape
teen” – that suggested the rape had been confirmed.

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