Daily Mail Unpublishes Sensational Science Story after PCC Complaint

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A screenshot from the PCC's resolution report. (Credit: PCC, screenshot, highlight added)

The UK Daily Mail unpublished a sensational article headlined “Is a Super-Volcano Just 390 Miles from London Ready to Blow?” UK blog Tabloid Watch reported Feb. 28.

The article, about Germany’s Laacher See volcano, was heavily criticized by Denison University’s Geosciences assistant professor Erik Klemetti and Discovery News, according to Tabloid Watch, and a man named Samuel Munro filed a complaint with the UK Press Complaints Commission.

Klemetti’s Jan. 2 criticism (see here on Wired’s website) called the Daily Mail’s report “substance free,” “tremendously terrible” and “irresponsible, lazy journalism at its finest.”  Discovery News likewise called it a “sensational assertion” that is ” based on nothing more than a sparse smattering of old facts that sound tantalizingly apocalyptic when you string them together.”

Klemetti noted that “the problem is that this kind of poor reporting with no sources spirals in today’s internet media age” and cited this Asian Age article re-reporting the Mail‘s claims.

Discovery News also noted that the article included “no mention of new science, no expert named.”

According to the PCC complaint, published Feb. 23, Munro argued the “assertion that the volcano was about to erupt had not been supported by sufficient evidence or expert opinions.”  The PCC reported that “The complaint was resolved when the PCC negotiated the removal of the article.”

Klemetti weighed in on the PCC complaint in a Feb. 29 post for Wired.  Klemetti wrote: “Chalk this one up for a win for science over sensationalism — and if we played any small role in this, I am more than pleased.”

The article’s link now leads to an Error page.  The PCC’s Catherine Speller told iMediaEthics by e-mail that the resolution did not require the Daily Mail to publish a notice about the PCC’s resolution.

We have written to the Daily Mail for more information and will update with any response.

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Daily Mail Unpublishes Sensational Science Story after PCC Complaint

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