The founder of news website Manchester Mill has hit out at some of Reach plc’s biggest online titles over their reporting of the Nicola Bulley disappearance.
The intervention comes just days after the BBC issued an apology to Reach over “clickbait” claims made during a Radio 4 study of the local journalism model employed by the Mill.
Highlighting tweets made by some of the publisher’s biggest online properties, and singling out the MEN and Liverpool Echo for particular criticism, Joshi Herrmann describes how the papers have tweeted stories referring to a “statement” from search expert Peter Faulding, when the “statement” referred to was a single line post on Faulding’s social media: “Our thoughts are with Nicola’s family and friends at this difficult time.”
Herrmann adds that the Echo had tweeted the story six times at the time of his tweet.
Reach’s big sites – MEN, Echo etc – have stories about a ‘statement’ from Peter Faulding (the Echo tweeted it 6x). But there’s no statement – it’s a single line on social media.
Pure clickbait trash, exploiting public interest in a woman’s disappearance to drive traffic. pic.twitter.com/kDIvjg3WFB
— Joshi Herrmann (@joshi) February 20, 2023
Prolific North contacted Reach, who issued the following response from an MEN spokesperson: “Our coverage of the search for Nicola Bulley has been extensive and involved the deployment of reporters on the ground in the area to provide reliable, accurate information of the search by the police. It has also included documenting the comments and search activities of Specialist Group International throughout. We, along with other local titles in the area have reported and will continue to report on newsworthy information – whether shared on social media or through other channels – with our audience, especially when it comes from experts involved in the case.”
On Monday evening, following confirmation from Lancashire Police that a body found in the River Wyre was that of the missing mother-of-two, a statement issued by the family condemned “shameful” media intrusion, singling out Sky News and ITV in particular, but also criticising “[the papers], press and other media channels.”
“They again have taken it upon themselves to run stories about us… to increase their own profits… leave us alone now” Family of Nicola Bulley condemn “shameful” behaviour of media outlets that ignored their requests for privacyhttps://t.co/Nk9r1G6EAg pic.twitter.com/jwSzC9nFrH — BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) February 20, 2023