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Jeff Edwards/Old story from 2007

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Jeff Edwards/Old story from 2007

Post  Annabel on Tue 28 Feb - 5:46

http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=6&storycode=39151

Madeleine McCann coverage

Edwards describes the coverage of Madeleine McCann as a “festival of misreporting” on account of the conclusions many journalists have drawn about the case.

“It is a prime example. Nothing is known; it is a one-fact story – a little girl is missing. Right across the media there has been a festival of misreporting based largely on naïve guesswork, vacuum filling and dangerous assumption. We don’t generally emerge with much credit.

“I get pissed off with columnists who say the parents can’t have had anything to do with it. All the murder squad people I know say ‘don’t talk to me about certain things being impossible’. There’s been a certain amount of unconscious racism here about the Portuguese police. Actually, it’s not a third world country.

“They may not have our level of competence but they are not stupid and they are limited by their own constitution. Whatever is said about that inquiry, everything they’ve done has been driven by something such as significant inconsistencies between the McCanns and their friends.”

Despite saturation coverage of the McCann case, Edwards believes that crime stories have become less prominent in recent times in the national press. As well as the cult of celebrity, Edwards says this is because newspapers are losing the attention war with television.

He says he landed the first big story on Islamic terrorism in the UK in 2000, nine months before the attacks on the twin towers, but reveals that his former editor at the Daily Mirror, Piers Morgan, was reluctant to run the story.

A friend of Edwards working as a French secret service agent informed him that a man, who had appeared in a Daily Mail splash for living off the state, was actually a member of Osama Bin Laden’s international brigade in Afghanistan during the Russian occupation.

He was wanted for terrorism offences in Islamabad, for a bombing attack in 1993 on the Indian High Commission and wanted in his native Algeria as a member of the Armed Islamic Group. Edwards’ secret agent then came out with the “killer punch” giving him details of his name, his flight numbers and details from his false passport.

“I knew this bloke was mustard, so I went to the Algerian embassy two or three times and had this peculiar ghost dance with them. They kept asking me to come back and run past them what I was saying. By the fourth time they admitted they knew all about the guy.

“I went to [then editor] Piers Morgan and said ‘this is really serious shit’ and he asked me why it was serious shit. It was really difficult to impress on him and the other execs. It’s because of the insidious, all-powerful cult of celebrity that this was off the agenda. The news editor, Eugene Duffy, who is now our managing director, a man I could talk to, leant very heavily on Piers and eventually we splashed on it. Nine months later we were all watching the trade centre coming down and Morgan told me that day my story had been a good call. He said: ‘Now I know what you’re on about.’ I’m glad I stood my ground.”

Boom of press officers

A crime reporter for 40 years, Edwards has seen many changes in his field. As in most areas of journalism, there has been a boom in the number of press offices acting as intermediaries.

Though many in the media complain about this development, Edwards believes that for crime reporters, who know the ins and outs of law enforcement, it has had little effect.

“It’s all about how you present yourself. Although the police have become ultra-professional, as they see it, in the way they deal with the media – installing a very slick, well-briefed press machine – in the end you can still have a dialogue with an officer directly. Police press officers deal with all sorts of media; general reporters, the specialist media, crime reporters.

“But the only people they have real confidence in are the people who know the background thoroughly; we do it day in and day out; we know what the police have to deal with, we know the history, we know their raison d’être.”

Edwards says that when working on a story, he will always call the police officer dealing with the case out of courtesy and ask to meet up to discuss the case. He says that although 50 per cent of the time you will be shrugged off, the other half of the time, police officers will take up the offer and he’ll end up with much more information. Only a small percentage of what he is told will eventually make a story. “For every story I’ve reported there have been another nine things I’ve known about that I’ve not been able to report. But this is selfish discretion rather than for altruistic reasons; it’s because it will benefit me in the long run.”

Annabel
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Re: Jeff Edwards/Old story from 2007

Post  Angelique on Tue 28 Feb - 9:18

Annabel

Thank you for this article. Even though it's an old one it is interesting. Also about the fact that some papers were and are still only interested in celeb gossip.

This Edwards sounds very adept at ferreting out information which is a lost art IMO. It's the "real news" we all want.

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Re: Jeff Edwards/Old story from 2007

Post  Lillyofthevalley on Tue 28 Feb - 9:52

Thanks annabel very interesting article, but I would like to ask whats Edwards thoughts now, today.....I remember one Piers Morgan been very critical of the McCanns, he is one of their biggest supporters now.

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