LAST week, under the headline
"Croydon Priest Misquoted," this paper had to set right an injurious and baseless story prominently displayed in the " Daily Herald." The priest was alleged to have said in the pulpit that Croydon had more schoolgirl mothers than any other town of its size in Britain. This was completely untrue. The " Daily Herald," continuing on its irresponsible and mischievous course, added that the chairman of the education committee had called a " town meeting to combat the situation. This was also quite inaccurate. Why did not the paper make personal enquiries before printing the story?
This week we have to report similar irresponsibility in the "Daily Sketch," which in its issue Of November 21 ran a long cir cumstantial story that the Rev. Frederic 0. Davis, a convert to the Church and a student at the Beda College in Rome, was the man behind " the visit of Dr. Fisher to the Holy Father. The story alleged that he was using the pseudonym of "Mr. Brown" and that "attempts to talk to him had been in vain."
As with the " Daily Herald " story so with the " Sketch." Both were written up by some irresponsible journalistic hack on the feeblest and vaguest of foundations. Since August, 1959, Mr. Davis ha, been pursuing his studies and has made no public statement of any kind. For the last Iwo weeks he has been in hospital.
Not only does such irresponsible journalism in a national, masscirculation newspaper inflict injury on individuals—in this case members of the Catholic clergy whose status and special responsibilities entitle them to special protection front lying reports—but it makes one wonder whether any reliance can be put on popular daily and Sunday papers where truth and responsibility are concerned.
* * Genuine mistakes are unavoidable. But the "Daily Sketch's" claim that attempts to talk to Mr. Davis had been in vain only shows utter journalistic incompetence. A telephone call to Archbishop's House or any of the Catholic papers would have put the paper on the right track. M.B.