The media think-tank Polis, the first organisation to hold a public debate on media treatment of the McCann family, today welcomed their success in securing a large defamation payment and an unprecedented front-page apology from the Daily Express and Daily Star newspapers.
Polis director Charlie Beckett said: 'This could be the moment when the tide turns against certain media excesses that have been growing in recent years. Most of the media had gone a bit mad over this story while a minority had lost all their editorial senses.
'A combination of the McCann's public relations campaign, the internet, the Portuguese press and a loss of UK media inhibition had combined to "commodify" a tragic human story. Vast amounts of innuendo and tenuous rumour were printed (and broadcast) without fact-checking or proper contextualisation.
'The fact that the Express will pay the price should act as a warning to others who have strayed in similar ways. I hope that other media outlets who have dabbled in mindless and cruel speculation will not simply be grateful that the struggling Express group has taken the hit on their behalf.'
Polis is based at the London School of Economics and Political Science. It hosted a debate on media coverage of Madeleine McCann's disappearance on 30 January. Speakers included former Sun editor Kelvin McKenzie and the McCann's official spokesman Clarence Mitchell.
More details of the debate at www.charliebeckett.org/?p=400
More about Polis, a partnership with the London College of Communication, at www.lse.ac.uk/polis
Charlie Beckett - 020 7955 7695 firstname.lastname@example.org
LSE press office - 020 7955 7440