Former Daily Express editor Richard Addis’ news website for teenagers has been forced to apologise to Harry Potter author JK Rowling over an article suggesting its readers should boycott her work.
The Day, which Addis launched in January 2011 to help explain current affairs to students, has also agreed to make a financial contribution to a charity of Rowling’s choice over the complaint.
The article “Potterheads cancel Rowling after trans tweet”, published on 10 June, compared the author to the artist Picasso, who celebrated sexual violence, and the composer Wagner who had racist and anti-Semitic views.
In a correction, now published at the top of The Day’s homepage, the website said it offered an unreserved apology to JK Rowling “for the offence caused”, with a retraction of the allegations to set the record straight.
It accepted that the article “implied that what JK Rowling had tweeted was objectionable and that she had attacked and harmed trans people”.
“The article was critical of JK Rowling personally and suggested that our readers should boycott her work and shame her into changing her behaviour,” it went on.
“Our intention was to provoke debate on a complex topic. We did not intend to suggest that JK Rowling was transphobic or that she should be boycotted.
“We accept that our comparisons of JK Rowling to people such as Picasso, who celebrated sexual violence, and Wagner, who was praised by the Nazis for his anti- Semitic and racist views, were clumsy, offensive and wrong.
“Debate about a complex issue where there is a range of legitimate views should have been handled with much more sensitivity and more obvious recognition of the difference between fact and opinion.”
The Day, whose tagline is “news to open minds”, says its intention is to be a “serious briefing service” that explains a select few of the most significant news stories each day to young people in a “balanced and unpatronising” way.
It claims to have nearly 1m subscribers. Subscriptions for parents to take out are normally £120 per year but are currently free, while school subscriptions range from £499 and £1,199 depending on the number of students.
Addis, who edited the Daily Express in the mid-1990s, is The Day’s founder, chairman and editor-in-chief.
He has also edited The Globe and Mail in Canada and been executive editor of the Daily Mail, deputy editor of the Sunday Telegraph and weekend editor of the Financial Times. A fellow FT journalist helped him launch The Day.
Explaining how the website works, Addis has written: “In our newsroom each morning our writers carefully choose which of the events in the news shine the best light on the undercurrents that shape modern life.
“We try to explain these events without bias in the best, uncomplicated English prose we can write, backed up with illustrations, glossaries, further reading and discussion points.
“We try to pinpoint the essential debates that our stories raise, to leave our readers well equipped for debate or discussion.”
Picture: David Cheskin/PA Wire