April 23, 2014

The Daily Mail | The Telegraph

On Tuesday night, Joe Kovac Jr. sat down and did a search to see how a murder trial in Macon, Ga., was getting covered elsewhere. That led him to The Daily Mail’s James Nye, whose account of the trial begins with a sentence that is fictional. Kovac, a reporter with The (Macon, Ga.) Telegraph, knows it was wrong because he sat in the front row of the Georgia courtroom Monday morning and saw the whole thing for himself.

He tweeted about the Mail’s bizarre account Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

The family didn’t didn’t listen to the killer confess, Kovac said.

“He barely said a word,” Kovac said. “He spoke in whispers and it was yes and no answers to the judge.”

The third paragraph of The Daily Mail’s story says the confession “was read to the court.” It was, in fact, paraphrased and wasn’t available until several hours later.

Here’s how Kovac and reporter Amy Leigh Womack describe that scene in their day two story:

McDaniel didn’t speak on his own behalf during Monday’s hearing.

While Giddings’ loved ones talked of her and spoke of his crime, he sat still.

In the stone-gray suit he has worn to court for nearly three years, McDaniel gazed down at the defense table, at a legal pad and a pitcher of ice water.

His face was blank, empty, pale. He was the picture of meekness as his victim’s mother declared him a monster.

“I’m hoping it was an honest goof,” Kovac said of the Mail’s story. Poynter has called Nye and e-mailed the Daily Mail for comment. In 2011 the Mail published a fictional account of the Amanda Knox trial’s outcome, complete with fake quotes from prosecutors. It apologized and was censured by Britain’s Press Complaints Commission. Among other corrective measures, the newspaper “launched an immediate internal inquiry,” Roy Gleenslade reported.

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Kristen Hare teaches local journalists the critical skills they need to serve and cover their communities as Poynter's local news faculty member. Before joining faculty…
Kristen Hare

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