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CMS database peril hits Gloucestershire weekly

The perils of failing to keep track of versions of a story when you are running a newspaper and a web site are illustrated by a recent complaint to the British Press Complaints Commission.

Mrs Helen Backus was given copy approval of a sensitive article about her childhood for the Stroud News and Journal and asked for changes to be made. They were for the print edition, but the unamended version was uploaded to the web site.

After Mrs Backus complained to the Gloucestershire paper, a part of Gannett’s Newsquest group, the story was taken down. But it was still there.

Sue Smith, the editor, explained to me in an email: “…the person uploading stories for the web that week pulled the original story from blacks and uploaded that without realising changes had been made. We removed the story completely from the web after Mrs Backus complained.

“However, there was then another glitch when the web site was changed and it popped up out of some dark recess in the archives. We have now completely wiped it from the system to avoid it happening again.”

The dispute was resolved by the PCC without the need for an adjudication after Ms Smith apologised and explained exactly what had happened.

The complaint was made under Clause 1 of the Code of Practice which, in part, says: “The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures.”

In retrospect, it is easy to see how it could have happened. The story was removed from the pages but remained in the database. Perhaps all journalists now need to know something about how their contents management system works.

More on the perils 

Added June 22 14.47 BST

Since writing the above I had seen a similar story on the Press Gazette site but this time about an expensive libel case. The Sunday Telegraph, apparently, has been forced to pay a second time after it left a libelous story on its website. Having paid £12,000 in an out-of-court settlement for the newspaper story it has had to make a second payment of £5,000

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