Flop of the month: The Times' Hillsborough ruling omission

PRWeek's flop of the month for April 2016 went to The Times, and its coverage of the Hillsborough inquiry result.

The omission of the Hillsborough verdict in the first edition (left) did not go unnoticed - and was quickly amended (right)
The omission of the Hillsborough verdict in the first edition (left) did not go unnoticed - and was quickly amended (right)

The Times quickly realised it had made a mistake in its decision not to feature news of the results of the Hillsborough Inquest the morning after it reached its conclusion.

Twenty-seven years and 11 days after 96 men, women and children lost their lives in a crush at the Sheffield Wednesday stadium, seven of the inquest’s nine jurors concluded that those Liverpool fans had been unlawfully killed.

This milestone, in a still incomplete fight for justice brought by friends and families of the dead, was rightly seen as front-page news by most national newspapers – but not, initially, The Times.

The newspaper’s first edition – crucially, the one used in broadcasters’ newspaper round-ups and the BBC’s The Papers blog – did not mention Hillsborough on its front page, with the main photo illustrating unseasonal snowfall in the North East.

Later editions – and every one of the paper’s digital editions – did lead on the story. "We made a mistake with the front page of our first edition and we fixed it for the second edition," the newspaper said by way of apology on Twitter just after noon.

The Times’ stablemate The Sun – whose 1989 coverage of the tragedy blaming Liverpool fans has become infamous – also did not feature Hillsborough on its front page. But while that was in a sense predictable, The Times’ actions left commentators questioning just what had gone on within Rupert Murdoch’s News UK that day.

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