The Daily Mirror newspapers has been accused of carrying a fake story allegedly planted by the army on a shortage of blood in the Jaffna province due to a caste related issues. The fabricated news report published on 13 June 2017 under the title ‘Caste differences in North lead to shortage of blood for transfusion’ attempts to boost the military showing that the soldiers had to come to the rescue of the people in Jaffna by donating blood to the Jaffna Teaching Hospital.
The Daily Mirror story had also quoted Jaffna Teaching Hospital Director Dr. T. Sathiyamoorthy as saying caste differences among the people living in the North was discouraging them from donating blood which had resulted in a shortage of blood for transfusion at the Jaffna Teaching Hospital. But in fact Sathiyamoorthy had told the journalist from the Daily Mirror that there was no caste issue, but yet the story had incorrectly quoted him as saying there was a caste issue.
Meanwhile, activist and journalist Thulasi Muttulingam had contacted Sathiyamoorthy to verify the contents of the newspaper article, who had later denied giving such a quote to the Daily Mirror. When Muttulingam had called Sathiyamoorthy on Tuesday, he had asked, “Are you a reporter? I am nervous to talk to any more reporters and would prefer to release my own statements. Just yesterday, the Daily Mirror reporter Yohan Perera called and asked me about the status of our blood bank, which I told him was doing well. He then specifically asked if we had any caste related issues with accepting and donating blood from our bank – which I completely negated. We do not have any such problem at our blood bank. I don’t even know where he got the idea from. He must have been fixed in his preconceived notion that it existed anyway because today the article appeared, quoting me as saying the opposite of what I had in fact,” Sathiyamoorthy had said.
Soon after the article was published, Sathiyamoorthy had written to the newspaper demanding a clarification for quoting him wrongly. Subsequently, the Daily Mirror removed the story from its website, and had said that they will publish a clarification. However, when the clarification appeared in today’s newspaper it said that Sathiyamoorthy had said that the caste factor was not a ‘major’ issue, whereas this too was incorrect as according to the Director this was a no caste issue at all. The journalist who had written the story had blamed the news editors and sub editors saying they sometimes make ‘big changes’ to the original article.
Incidentally, Daily Mirror was not the only newspaper that carried this plant, even The Nation newspaper had carried a similar story, but had later updated its website with a quote from Sathiyamoorthy where he had denied such a caste issue exists.