Open letter to journalist Nick Pisa

Posted by Tim Ireland at 4 October 2011

Category: Old Media

This entry was posted on
Tuesday, October 4th, 2011
at
8:11 am and is filed
under Old Media.

Morning, folks. I have decided to email Nick Pisa about his conduct last night, when through the Daily Mail he reported how a series of people reacted to an event that never happened.

from Tim Ireland
to nickpisa[AT]yahoo.com
date Tue, Oct 4, 2011 at 8:56 AM
subject Your talent for invention

Dear Nick,

Do you have any response to the evidence that you and relevant Daily Mail staff were prepared to go to print with [an] entirely invented accounts of events, reactions and statements that you could not possibly have witnessed?
http://www.mailwatch.co.uk/2011/10/03/invented-eyewitness-accounts/

This is what I have prepared in advance;

“Oh, do calm down; EVERYBODY does it,” said a clearly emotional Pisa before calling his critics names and running away.

If you would prefer me to report something you actually said, rather than what I expected you to say, then please do get in touch.

Cheers

Tim Ireland
www.bloggerheads.com

I’ve already received a genuine response while preparing this post, and I look forward to publishing it shortly.

UPDATE – Nick Pisa is now suggesting that I contact the Daily Mail for a response (on the basis that they published what he imagined) but for the record, this is a summary of what he had to say for himself about the above. These are key extracts from a wider email conversation, but if Nick is worried about being quoted out of context, I would be delighted to publish the entire exchange if he so requests.

Nick Pisa: “If you knew anything about reporting and not blogging then you would know two versions are written for court stories on deadline. Also as you are so web obsessed then you will have seen several news organisations made the same mistake.”

Tim Ireland: “I did see others making a similar mistakes re: the verdict, but this is entirely distinct from inventing reactions and statements made in ‘response’ to something that hadn’t happened. Are you saying that you’ve done this before and you regard it to be acceptable?”

Nick Pisa: “No. Now you are twisting my words. It is a version that is fine tuned before being sent for publication or online… To be honest I think it’s best you get a response from the Mail. They posted it. I have told you what happened. I do not recall name calling in fact the jeering was from your side as I recall ! I did not run away. I did not see the point in discussing it and I am as angry as you are.”

I’m especially delighted that Nick took offence at my imagined version of his reaction before not calling me names and not running away. :o)

UPDATE (8pm) – The Daily Mail have expanded on their earlier statement (amounting to a blatantly false and entirely irrelevant claim about the ‘guilty’ story being up for only 90 seconds; something they persist with at their peril, as it undermines their denial) and have added the following to their site:

Confusion over the judge’s announcement meant Sky News and several news websites, including Mail Online, briefly reported incorrectly that Knox had been found guilty.

This was corrected just over a minute later when it became apparent that he had said she was guilty of slander before going on to say both Knox and Sollecito were innocent of Meredith’s murder.

We apologise for the error and have launched an enquiry to examine our procedures.

It is common practice among newspapers to prepare two versions of an article ahead of a court verdict and these are known as ‘set and hold’ pieces.

We would like to make it clear that Nick Pisa had no involvement in the decision to publish his set and hold piece on MailOnline.

The quotes were obtained from various parties in the event of either a guilty or not guilty verdict.

So the reactions to a guilty verdict that never came… were they obtained ahead of time, too? Perhaps Pisa based these sections of his piece on reactions to the slander verdict…

Amanda Knox looked stunned this evening after she dramatically lost her prison appeal against her murder conviction.

… but if this is the case, it makes no sense for these accounts of reactions to a verdict to be in a ‘set and hold’ piece, because the writer would at the time have been responding thinking he had a verdict.

UPDATE (06 Oct) – I urge you to read the unfolding comments, and when a clearer picture emerges I expect to update the body of this post with any crucial elements (i.e. instead of deleting it and pretending it never happened, as some tabloids are wont to do). At this time, it appears entirely possible that Nick Pisa at least acted in good faith, and with some rigour, though we may not see any relevant details until after the Daily Mail have conducted their internal investigation. Scare quotes from ‘journalist’ in my headline have subsequently been snipped to remove the likelihood of the man being judged by this alone.

(Many people only read headlines/link text. Many others will read a post only, and not the comments, which is why vital corrections belong in the body of a post if/when they emerge, and why headlines should be corrected in line with changes to content. IMO.)

UPDATE (4 Oct 2016)- Nick Pisa never got back to me about the outcome of the Daily Mail investigation that kicked the issue into the long grass. I was not inclined to contact him, as I was anonymously being accused of harassing him through publication of this article at the time (*deep sigh*). However, today I note that the man has become very popular for his unique brand of journalism where key facts don’t get checked and the resulting headlines are never his fault:

Amanda Knox Netflix documentary: The journalist people are branding the real villain – Former Daily Mail reporter Nick Pisa revealed he didn’t fact check key information

In other news, it is 5 years to the day since I wrote the original article. Happy birthday, lil’ article.

=








63 Comments

  1. Tom says

    He really doesn't get it, does he…

    • rainer77 says

      No, he doesn't.

      The solipsistic jerk obviously thought the Netflix film was just another chance to milk "the story", and it's well-and-truly bitten him the arse. What an idiiot.

  2. Carole aka Robmam says

    Excellent piece Tim.

  3. Quincy says

    The point isn’t that a draft was written, or indeed that it contained made up quotes – I think that’s pretty much expected with a breaking news story as details are filled in as they emerge – the problem is that it was posted, and not because an intern pressed SEND instead of SAVE, but because they weren’t paying attention and wanted the scoop. They clearly intended to run the article had the outcome been accurate so the argument about making up quotes is still valid. Had they waited and replaced the information with actual things that had really happened and then posted it accidentally I don’t think anyone would care too much…

  4. @TomEvanz says

    Devil's advocate mode: If Nick Pisa was the Mail's man in Perugia last night, it makes sense that the bods on the digital desk back in Blighty would have included his byline in their 'holding' articles. It is entirely plausible (based on the extracts published here) that Nick not only had no part in the made-up quotes, but that he was also completely unaware of them until this exchange. I'm not saying it's right – I'm just saying the fabrications that appeared under Nick Pisa's name may not have been written by him.

    • Tim_Ireland says

      Well, he's yet to mention that (and I totally failed to predict it when I invented his reaction).

  5. Richard Bartholomew says

    If it had just been a case of the wrong boilerplate article being published, then fair enough. I can even just about accept the (inadvisable) practice of saving time by adding predictive clichés to a text in advance, which can then be "fine-tuned" in the light of what actually happens.

    But I can't see any legitimate reason for concocting fake quotes in advance. Why not just put "INSERT QUOTE HERE" in the draft text? That would make it easier for the journalist to "fine-tune" everything correctly, rather than risk accidentally leaving in false information, and if submitted by mistake it would alert subeditors that they were dealing with a draft.

    The most benign explanation I can think of is that Pisa "fine-tuned" his "not guilty" version, but then sent in his rough "guilty" draft by accident – in which case why is he "angry" with the Mail rather than with himself?

    We all know that the only reason the article was pulled was because Knox was found not guilty – had it gone the other way, we would have been none the wiser that Pisa's report contained concocted quotes and bogus details. Pisa needs to come up with something rather better than "bloggers don't understand reporters".

    • Nicole says

      Clearly the report which was published did include bogus details. The original version from last night included fabricated accounts of the families' reactions. This has now been replaced by today's version, but this early comment on the report shows the colour was entirely invented:

      "I just watched this live – I didn't hear any "screams in court" nor did I see the Knox family "erupt" in joy. They cried and hugged each other quietly. Half the problem with this case is the rubbish printed by the media in more than one country but especially in Italy where they can say what they like and cannot be held to account.

      – Liz, London, 3/10/2011 21:10"

      Today's version of the events in the courtroom erroneously describes "chaos in court", perhaps as a figleaf to explain the Mail's mistake. I didn't see chaos but calm delivery of a verdict.

  6. therealsim_o says

    Yeah, Tim. If you knew *anything* about reporting you'd know reporting something that's happened is *completely* different to blogging something that's happened.

    Or going to happen.

    Or hasn't happened.

  7. Niall says

    Not everything that appears under a byline is penned by that individual. I don’t think it’s entirely surprising that Pisa, a freelancer, doesn’t wish to do any more than suggest you contact the Mail for comment – after all, you have published the email exchange.

    If, as I suspect, the subs played merry hell with his holding copy, you’ve very publicly maligned a chap who relies on his reputation to earn his crust.

    Another equally plausible explanation is that he submitted the piece with the intention of substituting pars in for the stuff that was invented.

    Sending copy to the subs is NOT the same as publishing it.

    The Mail is ridiculous and well-deserving of the criticism on this and other fuck ups. Still, neither you nor I know what happened here – ie whether or not Pisa is culpable – and in blaming him and him alone (or at least giving the impression that you believe it is his fault) you may have without any justification fucked him over.

    By contrast, his point that you dont fully understand how newspapers work would seem to have a degree of validity.

    I really don’t understand why Pisa, and not The Mail, is the subject of your ire.

    • Tim_Ireland says

      I did not publish the email exchange; I openly approached him for comment and published his comment. One such comment by Pisa requires my question to be seen in its appropriate context, but that’s as near as it gets to any replication of any email exchange.

      I sought the Daily mail’s response before I sought Pisa’s. The Mail have yet to get back to me, but they have deigned to respond to others by making the irrelevant and untrue claim that the ‘guilty’ article was only live for 90 seconds. I would be delighted to hear more from them.

  8. Richard Lawson says

    Well done Tim. You anticipated his reaction accurately too.

    It was Pisa who was co-inventor of the Foxy Knoxy moniker, that helped to stain her character.

  9. Niall says

    Okay – published extracts from the email exchange. I think my point still stands. You might dislike the Mail but he relies in part on it for his income. Expecting him to have a public dig at them seems a bit of a stretch, particularly given the tone of the email you initially sent him.

    I’d argue that by leaving this article on your site you are doing that which you are doing that which you’ve accused others of doing to you – namely, unfairly maligning another on the basis of circumstantial evidence and supposition, rather than hard fact.

    I’m a big fan, Tim, but I think you’re wide of the mark on this one. I’ll reiterate, I really don’t see why Pisa and not the Mail is your chosen target. The paper, unlike Pisa, is demonstrably in the wrong.

    • Tim_Ireland says

      My article predicts his response in the same way his article projected responses onto others. Not only is this satire, it is accurate satire, as evidenced by his response, which was near to exactly what I predicted it to be, despite the luxury of advance notice.

      If Pisa had denied authoring the article, I most certainly would have included that response.

      (That said, I would argue that if you allow your byline to appear on articles you haven't written, then you deserve all of the relevant rewards, not just the money.)

      As it is, I included word for word his claim that this article was "a version that is fine tuned before being sent for publication or online"

  10. anarchicteapot says

    "I wasn't the only one" is not in fact a defence. If it was, gang-bangs wouldn't be a crime. I know: extreme example. But he *is* showing extreme stupidity.

  11. Niall says

    ???

    Come on, Tim. You do know, don’t you, that every piece of copy you read in ANY newspaper will have been tinkered with by editor, news desk, subs etc. The idea that Pisa is somehow culpable because of this process is asinine. Expecting him to publicly malign one of his sources of income equally so.

    This may be satire but bloggerheads.com doesn’t exist in a vaccum. The headline alone “‘journalist’ Nick Pisa is itself pretty damaging given the prominence Google gives your blog. I’m sorry to keep banging on about it, but there is no evidence he wrote those quotes, let alone intended them to be published.

    Given the shit you’ve unfairly had to deal with over the past couple of years I’m surprised you’re playing the man and not the ball in this fashion. Even if Pisa submitted every single word of the copy (which I’ll concede is entirely possible – on a big story like this hacks will routinely file a long piece with the intention of subbing in actual quotes and eye-witness detail to save time in the rush to publish) it’s not the same as intending it to be published in that form.

    Unlike blogging, print hacks dont stick their own material up – particularly when working in the field. Your piece conflates a number of issues and makes an unmerited value judgement about his abilities as a journalist.

    The only thing we can all be definitive about is that the Mail fucked up. So why go so much further? Pisa may well have invented quotes etc but neither you nor I know that. Your blog gives quite a different impression.

    • Tim_Ireland says

      Niall, Pisa was given an opportunity to explain himself. I published what I thought to be a fair summary of his response and offered to publish the whole thing if he thought I was being unfair about that.

      I can't say I think much about the (speculative) 'maybe he dare not speak against one of his employers' defence, either. If any employer expected me to carry the can for their antics (such as the invention/publication of multiple reactions to events that never took place), I wouldn't risk my reputation with them any further than I already had.

      • senornunes says

        Naive. What if they did tinker with his copy? If the Mail were your employer, or even your main source of income as a freelance, you're not going to slag them off publicly just to keep some blogger happy.

  12. Tim_Ireland says

    Pardon me while I have a quick word with a comment contributor who claims some familiarity with this site, but does not appear to understand that I do not publish comments from falsified email addresses. In fact, I’ve a tendency to think very little of people who question my objectivity while disguising their identity/interests, and people who do so ‘innocently’ should be warned that while their comments remain indistinguishable from those that clearly seek to deceive my readers and/or abuse my trust, they will be grouped accordingly and will probably never see the light of day.

    [EDIT – I wish to be clear that I am not accusing anyone named in this thread of sock-puppeting. If I had evidence of that, I would put it directly/privately to that person via their real/main identity.]

  13. alison says

    Good on ye tim.

    Niall, as my mother used to say, “fly with the crows, get shot with the crows”. Everyone knows the daily mail is a joke so i.m.o choosing to work for them means you accept the consequences of their moronic actions.

    • senornunes says

      Very smug and self-righteous. You are aware there is a recession on? Some people haven't got a queue of potential alternative employers offering them a means of income. He's hardly selling arms/class A drugs, is he? Lets just be glad that you (evidently) can afford the luxury of choosing who you work for.

  14. senornunes says

    Nick Pisa knows he has blundered badly on this one with the reaction/quote fabrications, and got caught out. And I suspect Foxy Knoxy gets an easy few quid out of this from AN.

    But nevertheless I have some sympathy for him over the slagging he's getting today. 1) That 'dummy' piece should never have seen the light of day. 2) We don't yet know if the little 'guilty' story embellishments were done by him, or by the office. 3) He cannot be held responsible for whichever idiot pressed the button in Kensington.

    When he says he is as angry as you are, I suspect that isn't true. He's probably much angrier.

  15. @_davehawkes says

    I can sort of understand the defence that what was published was just a template and that details would've been changed or added once the actual outcome was known, but the 'wrong' story read exactly like any other Mail story and that makes me uneasy, even as someone who has such little regard for the Mail anyway. They'd already decided on the tone and structure of the piece before the facts had actually been confirmed – anything could've happened in that courtroom last night but the Mail hadn't just pre-empted the outcome of the trial, they'd clearly established a narrative as to how events unfolded, who said and did what, what it meant, etc etc. And the prosecutors' 'quotes' are horribly similar to those they usually attribute to 'sources' (ie the stuff they make up and publish all the time).

  16. Dan says

    Did he only get the Italian job because of his name?

  17. LittleMe says

    That is priceless!

  18. Ben says

    I think Niall needs considerably more support than he's getting here. Great that everyone presumes to know what happened between Nick Pisa filing and the story going live, and whether the embellisments, reprehensible as they were, were his or not. But I can't help feeling your initial facetious email to him, Tim, made you look particularly childish, and was hardly deserving of a mature response – which you seemed to get. I'd have told you to fuck off.

  19. Niall says

    I’m beginning to sound like a broken record here, so will make this my final comment on the matter.

    There is no evidence he wrote the falsified quotes and eyewitness material. Even if he did, there’s no evidence he intended it to be published.

    The fact is you invite your readers to conclude that he did both those things. That’s shoddy journalism – ironically that which you accuse Pisa of.

    Reporters do not publish, and will often file holding pieces not intended for publication in that form.

    You are within your rights to say he shouldn’t tolerate his employer’s actions maligning his reputation. I’ll conclude by saying these are tough times for freelancers and he might not be able to say all that he wants to, and that it might be an idea to give more prominence in the article to the possibility Pisa had nothing to do with the fuck up.

    This whole blog takes Pisa’s guilt as given. You leave yourself open to the charge that you must be awfully lonely all the way up there on that pedestal of yours.

    • Tim_Ireland says

      If I have been dreadfully unfair to Mr Pisa, he was & is welcome to answer for himself. So far, what little he has had to say in response does not fill me with confidence. Happily, my readers can read his response and decide for themselves, regardless of what I may or may not have assumed.

      • senornunes says

        Amazing double standards, what you expect from a newspaper and what is okay for a blog. 'If I have been unfair, he is welcome to answer for himself'. Even the Mail wouldn't issue such a crass response.

        It's not often I dip into the blogosphere, but if this is supposed to be one of the better ones, I'll be giving it a swerve in future.

        • Tim_Ireland says

          I made a conclusion based on evidence that I linked to. Beyond this, I sought a response from the named author of the article after the Daily Mail failed to respond. I published his response and offered to publish more if he thought I had presented his comments out of context. I am sorry you're not impressed by that, but don't let it stop you from leaving.

          • Bill G says

            Oh for f**** sake.
            The Mail publishes made up stuff on every page.
            They'r in the sewer.

  20. Damocles says

    Surely if he wrote it he would have expected to have some quotes and so put some in so that the article would have been formatted correctly, then in the event of a guilty verdict he'd be able to get his story out faster. However, while he was finishing off the correct version (with real quotes) someone on the Daily Mail web team published the wrong story.

    The error was therefore on the technical team's side.

    • Tim_Ireland says

      Interesting theory. But if this were the case, one would at least expect both the author and the publisher to be in an excellent position to explain themselves.

  21. Richard says

    His name is on the piece. That's good enough for me. He'd be happy to take the credit if he had a scoop.

    • Tim_Ireland says

      My position is closer to; 'They expect me to take on the Daily Mail's army without taking aim at a single soldier?'

  22. Jess says

    I am astonished at the many journalists who appear to defend the Mail article, they used quotes regarding an event that did not occur, they embellished the 'made up' story with descriptions of the reactions of individuals to an event that did not occur, fact is the story was simply 'made up' as we the public have always believed. Thanks to the Mail for confirming what is according to many defenders 'standard practice' pre writing story's i.e making them up.

    As for the often stated comment that we the public 'don't understand how it works' (very patronising) well actually we know EXACTLY how it works and thanks to the Mail we now have the proof. It also explains the culure inherent in some media fractions that ultimately led to 'Hackgate'

    I make no comment on the Journalist who's name is attached to the article, save to say that if he is aware of 'unethical' practice in any media and goes along with it then he is as guilty as they are, if he has been maligned by their practice then he should say so and protect his and other journalists integrity before it is too late.

  23. Tim_Ireland says

    Just got another comment from someone using a false email address. This one sought to undermine the comment of another contributor by calling them an 'anonymous nobody'… and they did this while hiding their identity!

    I realise they may do things differently over at the Daily Mail website, but while I have a policy of allowing anonymous comments within limits (you want me to bear the weight of an accusation? provide a verifiable email address!) I do not tolerate the use of sock puppets to attack the reputations of others.

  24. Steve says

    Niall – the fact that he may or may not have been involved in what is nothing more than pure fabrication is irrelevant. It's his name on the article, he is the one who has to justify that article.

    It actually does not surprise me in the slightest that the Daily Fail would allow something like this to happen, after all it has probably boosted their overall hits to the paper massively. I don't think they really care whether news is genuine or not, all they want is advertising revenue generated by page views. That's why they call it a viewspaper these days, the news is irrelevant.

    I wonder if the PCC will take any action…I highly doubt it. False reporting should result in severe penalties, at least then the rags would be forced to actually check and proof-read their pieces before hitting "Publish".

  25. Ire of Tunbridge says

    It is plausible too that the 'fabricated' quotes are actually genuine – it's not unusual for diary events like this to ask people what their reaction would be if A happened or B happened rather than chasing after them for reaction after the event

    having an idea what your intro is going to be is also pretty standard practice and can be quickly fine tuned for accuracy later (as Nick kind of eludes to in his response)

    As Niall says it's the Daily Fail's fuck up not Nick's and I see no reason why he should have to come on the internet and explain himself to a bunch of irate keyboard warriors for something that is not his error

  26. @mcaino says

    Honestly, I think this is something of nothing. Ok, it's embarrassing to the Mail, Pisa and other publishers. But in a story where there are 2 outcomes, writing copy for both seems fairly sensible. It's not like anyone was misled, is it?

  27. Niall says

    It’s a bit rant-y, and I disagree with her contention that people are seeking an explanation from Pisa/the Mail solely because they are consumed with hatred for the paper, but I think Fleet Street Fox has a decent stab at explaining what happened re the piece – http://t.co/5iTcpqhE .

    • @_davehawkes says

      It's just a long winded 'fools, that's just how journalism' works defence.

      The thing is, we know that's how journalism works – we just think it's a bit, like, shit. And even by the Mail's standards they made it so easy to point that out.

  28. Bill G says

    As an ex-employee of the BBC, and having been on the end of some appalling behaviour from The Sun and The Mail specifically, I would just ask how these newspapers would cover a similar error by the BBC?
    Since The Mail is quite willing to repeat the lie that the BBC ordered people to stop using BC and AD even when even deaf people in caves knew this was a lie I think I know the answer. I use the word lie deliberately. Not an error, a deliberate falsehood.

    The issue is not if Mr Pisa made up stuff, the issue is whether it is standard practice to make up stuff. I think it is. Others will deny it.

    As someone says earlier "They don't get it"
    Sadly "They" is most of the profession

  29. Kateahr says

    If its true that journalists routinely write ‘holding’ pieces which contain made up quotes which they can fill in later, then this seems to have been an accident waiting to happen. What confidence can we have that if the verdict had gone the other way the piece we’ve seen would not have been published? And we wouldn’t know it contained quotes which had not been said or a description of the courtroom which came out of the journalist’s imagination rather than his memory.

    Maybe Nick Pisa is a vivtim of being the ‘one who got caught’. But just because a practice is widespread doesn’t make it ok.

    It is certainly true though, the the Daily Mail owe him the courtesy of taking their fair share of the blame – whatever that share is. And then perhaps we can learn who it was that invented the quotes – the journalist or a subeditor.

  30. FHR says

    Shouldn't a news organization simply publish the facts they do have and fill in the details later? That makes a heck of lot more sense to me than making up stuff and correcting it later as the truth trickles in. Or perhaps I'm crazy.

  31. Anji says

    Niall and all those defending the journalist: Surely if these quotes were either a) place fillers intended to be replaced with real quotes or b) real quotes obtained ahead of time, Pisa would have jumped to make that clear in his first response?

  32. Michael says

    I wouldn't defend what happened in a million years – the Mail has clearly been caught absolutely bang to rights with its hand wedged firmly in the cookie jar – but I'm very much on Niall's side in this argument. I've just had a piece published where sloppy sub-editing has rendered a sentence incomprehensible because it refers back to an earlier passage that was deleted, presumably for reasons of space. So I'd be very hesitant to make Nick Pisa carry the can for this – it's entirely plausible that he's wholly innocent.

    I don't have my copy of 'Stick It Up Your Punter!' immediately to hand, but wasn't there a story about the Sun's man in Argentina during the Falklands War reading what appeared in the paper under his byline and being genuinely worried that he might suffer serious consequences as a result (which of course would be a pretty sensational Sun front-page story in itself)? If I remember rightly, he was indeed summoned for grilling by an official, but thankfully (for him) it turned out that they'd been monitoring what he wrote as he sent it, and then comparing it with what was actually published, and had already realised that all the really inflammatory stuff had been added by Kelvin MacKenzie and his team in London.

  33. TRT says

    I think 'set & hold' makes sense in the old movable type days, but this is online reporting. Web pages are designed by their nature to reflow. Even if you are going to press with it, you don't have to paste-up, impose, lay-up, shoot and develop films, plates etc. nowadays.

    Anyway, so what happens when the department of pre-news reports stories from the bureau of pre-crime?

  34. FHR says

    The practice of "set & hold" is doubleplusgood!

  35. sheri jennings says

    Hi,
    I work in Rome as a reporter in a shared office with Nick Pisa. I know other reporters did the exact same thing: they wrote 2 versions of the same story. The UK deadline was approx 20 minutes after the verdict, and, the reporters mostly had to file extensive pieces. Inside stories, and front page stories, at times more than one. So – one reporter had to write double issue on all the stories the paper expected to run. What you do in these instances is you CALL in the revised quotes and reactions.
    I am just saying that yes, the Mail is a tabloid and we should not defend too much tabloid-y behaviour but- in this particular case Pisa was not at fault. His desk acted quickly because in reading the sentence first Knox was found 'guilty' of slander. I believe the error was to hear the world "guilty' read out and not wait for the full translation (in the UK). By means of comparison – when Pope John Paul II was elected there were journalists, and plenty of them that called the vote wrong (white or black smoke out of the Sistine Chapel that indicates if a new Pope has been elected). Well, in 2005 when JPII died, the SAME journalist was working on the Pope election story and was able to joke about his past error. Nick Pisa is a hard working journalist and he is not at fault in this issue! Yours, SRJ in rome

  36. Tim_Ireland says

    If true, Nick would have been far better off pointing this out in the first instance. From the get-go, he acted like a man with something to hide. The more time passes between the original incident and a plausible explanation, the more people will suspect concoction. Daily Mail add to this poor impression by continuing to stick with the highly misleading claim about removal of the article within 90 seconds. Even if it was a cached 'echo' of it that remained live for ~ 1 hour, what they claim does nothing to acknowledge this, and instead gives an entirely false impression that the article was gone in 90 seconds.

    Perhaps Nick would care to tell us, sooner rather than later, if was him who misunderstood the slander verdict, or the Daily Mail desk bods who misunderstood what he said about the slander verdict when he was (as you describe) relating the reactions of Knox and her family.

    Alternatively, Pisa and the Mail can simply continue to treat myself and other bloggers with contempt, and then complain when we arrive at conclusions they do not like after they refuse or depart from the conversation leaving large dark clouds of uncertainty.

  37. niall says

    Treated you with contempt? Rather like you did him in your initial email? And in your subsequent blogging in which you clearly identify him as the wrongdoer, yet conceding that your view is based on circumstantial evidence and a hazy view of how print reporting works?

    "acted like a man with something to hide"? "dark clouds of uncertainty"? He RESPONDED to your email, which he was not in any way compelled to do, and decided not to correspond further once it became clear his explantion was not satisfactory to you. Let's not forget, you stuck up this blog under the title "Open letter to 'journalist' Nick Pisa" before even publishing his response. That's pretty hideous, damning him in that way and inviting your readers to come to the same conclusion. I wonder what Nick would have had to provide in explanation to get this blog pulled.

  38. niall says

    Plenty of people on this thread have pointed out where your analysis of events is flawed. But Pisa HIMSELF wrote in his email to you that the article was "a version that is fine tuned before being sent for publication or online". Doesn't the comment from Sheri confirm this? I think so, you think not. The subs hit PUBLISH rather than wait for him to phone in the replacement quotes/pars. Had Pisa made that clearer I imagine that might have calmed you down a tad. Still, you'd have known about that if you understood the process a bit better.

    "Perhaps Nick would care to tell us, sooner rather than later…" You do realise how ridiculous this sounds, don't you? As an earlier comment suggests, I think you were bloody lucky to get a response having sent such a satirical/insulting email in the first place. And he HAS responded to you – clearly not to your satisfaction, but are you really surprised he's choosing not to engage any further when you're behaving like this?

  39. niall says

    Let's just say that again. He HAS responded. Others on this thread have confirmed the way in which long pieces are routinely sent and then added to/amended after the verdict is in. It's been pointed out by people who actually know how papers work that this piece was never intended to see the light of day in that form and that the likeliest explanation is that some muppet in London sent it for publication in error.

    You appear to have cut yourself shaving on Occam's Razor.

    You maligned Pisa before printing his response. You arrived at a conclusion as to his journalistic ethics and abilities (the rather childish act of placing 'journalist' in inverted commas) before seeking/printing his response. You claim that in absence of an explanation from Pisa that YOU deem acceptable you should be free to draw whatever conclusions you see fit. You seem entirely happy to cast unfounded aspersions on a guy who relies on his reputation for work.

  40. niall says

    You've decided he's guilty – without cause. If you hadn't, you'd have caveated the blog. Nowhere in it do you concede he might not have done anything wrong, for christ's sake. I doubt I'd have responded to your blog had you done so.

    You have built an online profile over the years through good, solid, reputable, reliable work – that means people take what you write at face value, and with that comes a degree of responsibility.

    There is some poor journalism here, but I'm not sure it's from Pisa. Again, I am utterly gobsmacked given the treatment you've had that you're behaving in this way. Apologies for the intemperate tone here, but it seems nothing will convince you that perhaps this blog isnt your finest hour.

  41. niall says

    Sorry, those comments were intended to follow your last.

  42. Tim_Ireland says

    Conversation is still neat and linear, Niall, so we're good to go.

    The article published under Nick Pisa's name described how Amanda Knox and her family reacted to an event that never happened. The conclusion I drew was that this was invented detail, seeing as he could not possibly have witnessed an event that never took place. (It may not have been fair to judge Pisa by it, but the past conduct of the Mail was a factor, I won't deny it.) The confusion about the slander verdict could explain some of the text describing events that never took place, but I'd rather hear this detail up front than any vague defence about 'tidying'. I would also be interested to see the prosecution lawyer confirm what Pisa/Mail have claimed and describe the circumstances in which he gave his statement about a future event. (I would also be curious to see what statement if any the prosecution offered any journalists ahead of time for use in case of a verdict of 'not guilty'.)

    These are not explanations I necessarily expect from Nick Pisa personally, BTW, but I think the public might be interested in them. Perhaps in a few weeks/months, when all the fuss has died down, we'll hear about the outcome of their internal investigation on Page 38 of the Daily Mail. Perhaps this account will contain some of the specifics I am interested in. If so, I look forward to responding to that immediately, rather than disappearing for an equal if greater amount of time to go away conduct an enquiry into myself.

    As it is, you may not think my initial conclusion was justified, or you may not think my publishing it was justified, but I am prepared to have that challenged. That's why I sought Pisa's response, and that's why I published Pisa's response (and that of the Daily Mail). It's also why I offered to publish further data if Pisa thought I had quoted him out of context. It's also why comments remain open on this post, and why your comments aren't being censored or denied or undermined.

    I'd be delighted to admit to being wrong on the initial conclusion. But so far, we've got part of the story, most of it comes from the Mail, one claim within it is (at best) misleading, and I'd like to hear a little more.

  43. Niall says

    We still disagree (!) but I think it right to reiterate your point above that on this site, unlike many others, comments challenging your views are published quickly and without censorship.

    I think the update urging readers to look at the comments itself goes some way to addressing my concerns, so thanks – nice one.

    • Tim_Ireland says

      Thanks, Niall. Your comment and my reply here also make it clear that I made my update largely in response to your objections, and I'm happy to be entirely clear about that. Criticism isn't kryptonite.

  44. Niall says

    You’re a good man, cheers Tim.

  45. FHR says

    This incident, regardless of who is at fault, reveals a huge problem with journalism. Here's a good comment, made by Melissa Bell of the Washington Post:

    "These pre-filmed quotes may be considered part of the process, but presenting them as if the lawyers said them after the verdict seems a gross misrepresentation of events and a violation of the Society of Professional Journalist's Code of Ethics."

    Link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/blogpost/post

    Personally, I think it's better for a journalist to be RIGHT than to be FIRST. Unfortunately, so much emphasis is put on being FIRST, that the TRUTH (journalism's supposedly core value) is lost.

    When there are breaking stories, my local paper will only print a few sentences about what is known at the time. As the facts come in, corrections are made and the story is expanded. This is the way I thought other media organizations did it throughout the world. Apparently, I was wrong.

    Because of this incident, with many reporters apparently defending this despicable practice, I am losing what little faith I have in the media. It's bad enough that many media organizations (the Daily Mail front and foremost) assassinated Knox's character while ignoring facts and common sense. A good example of this was reporting that Knox went shopping for "sexy lingerie" the day after the murder. The media failed to take into account that she needed to buy underwear because she did not have access to her apartment, due to it being a crime scene. Instead, they chose to paint a cold and callous picture of her.

    Bias is one issue, and I realize it's difficult to avoid. But publishing complete fiction and attempting to pass it off as truth is a much more fundamental problem. If it's "standard practice" to write articles that "predict" what the facts will be, I fear for the future of journalism.

  46. Niall says

    I think perhaps Melissa (the Post’s in-house blogger) makes a bit too much out of the situation. This was after all a binary decision in that Knox was to be found guilty or not guilty. Interesting to note that Roy Greenslade himself admits to preparing two separate pages for a court case – it’s the sloppiness of publishing the wrong article that he criticises: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/greenslade/2011/o

  47. Not Liz Jones says

    Goodness me! "entirely invented accounts of events" — I thought that was what Mail journo's were paid for? Oooops I might actually be turning into Liz Jones.

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