Website for teens The Day agrees payout and apology over JK Rowling 'trans tweet' story

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

Comments

9 thoughts on “Website for teens The Day agrees payout and apology over JK Rowling 'trans tweet' story”

  1. This is flawed.

    Your opinion matters to other people, especially if your opinion includes that their rights should be restricted in some way. Your opinion informs your vote, and your vote as a layman is your most powerful influence on society.

    Some people have more than their vote though, they have influence through their platforms over the opinions (and therefore votes) of others. This is more nebulous power but it demonstrably exists, if you’ve ever read something someone on the internet said and thought “oh, I hadn’t thought about it like that!”, that power has affected you.
    These people wield significant additional power compared to those with access only to a vote.

    Additionally, both of the above have an indirect effect in that they influence those who want to win them. Politicians often enact policy based on what they think will win votes (this is obvious), but they gauge this both by what they can find out about what voters are saying, but also by what people voters care about are saying. The people who want to win your vote will base policy platforms around doing so, and so if enough people (measurably) agree on a subject, those policy makers will at least consider basing policy decisions upon it.

    If your opinion is that a certain group of people should be restricted from access to support, services or care, both your vote and your influence are likely to ultimately cause those people harm. Therefore, other people’s opinions matter. JK Rowling has a significant influence platform in addition to a vote. Her opinion being wrong (and it is wrong, as it is based on factual errors and misrepresentations) matters because of her vote, but far more because of her influence over the votes of others.

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