Posted by Dave Cross
November 8th, 2011
[This is cross-posted from davblog]
From today’s Daily Mail corrections column:
We stated in an article on 26 September that Christmas has been renamed in various places Winterval.
Winterval was the collective name for a season of public events, both religious and secular, which took place in Birmingham in 1997 and 1998.
We are happy to make clear that Winterval did not rename or replace Christmas.
This is amazing stuff. The Mail has been one of the main papers pushing the “Winterval” myth for many years. At the recent media bloggers meet-up someone said that our constant debunking of this myth was beginning to have some traction, but I didn’t expect to get a correction from the Daily Mail quite so soon.
On the Mail Corrections site I like to link back to the original story. And in this case it seems to be a column by Melanie Phillips where she claimed that “Christmas has been renamed in various places ‘Winterval’”. This, as the Mail now admits, didn’t happen. She ties this non-event in with the recent furore about the BBC banning the terms BC and AD (something else that didn’t happen). Phillips strongly defended her view in an email discussion with Kevin Arscott, so it’s nice to see even the Mail admitting that she was wrong.
Of course, it’ll be interesting to watch what happens next. Will all Mail writers get a memo telling them to stop repeating the lie? It’s approaching prime Winterval season, surely Richard Littlejohn or Peter Hitchens will want to write about it soon.
As always when discussing this myth, I need to link to Kevin Arscott’s forensic investigation of the evidence which is the most thorough debunking of a tabloid lie that I’ve ever seen.
Update: The Mail has updated Phillips’ original column to remove the reference to Winterval and to add the following note at the bottom:
A previous version of this article stated that Christmas has been renamed in various places Winterval. Winterval was the collective name for a season of public events, both religious and secular, which took place in Birmingham in 1997 and 1998. We are happy to make clear that Winterval did not rename or replace Christmas.
That’s the first time I’ve seen them explicitly update a corrected article like that. I hope it’s the start of a trend. This has been a good date for tabloid accuracy in Britain.