Earlier this week, Daily Mirror author Matthew Barbour was exposed fabricating stories for the sake of generating a sensationalised headline, particularly targeting video games. Apparently Barbour’s history goes even deeper, as the writer has been caught red handed multiple times before.
Following Bratt’s investigation into tabloid practices in 2015, medical magazine The Pulse revealed Barbour’s attempts to coerce stories from patients who were negatively affected by the junior doctors’ strike. He flashed his title of contributing editor for The Sun, while offering a “good fee” for participants.
Once again, Barbour had his own prompts in the email sent around asking for story contributions, suggesting “someone who has had an op cancelled or someone who experiences a nightmare at A&E or witnesses staff shortages at a hospital. Anything along these lines would suffice. We can pay a good fee and also provide complete copy control so you’re 100 per cent happy with any write up – so your views are accurately represented.”
Although The Pulse amended its story to state that The Sun had let go of Barbour, The Sun’s head of PR, Dylan Sharpe, claims that “The Sun has no position of contributing editor” and that Barbour had been using the publication’s name as a freelancer to collect stories of his own. He was not asked “for this specific case study by anyone at The Sun.”
In fact, Barbour’s bad practices go as far back as 2013 where Private Eye shed light on the matter after the author requested people come forward to say that “tattoos will give you cancer” for a reward. He even tried to allure victims of the Manchester bombings in 2017, desperately seeking updates from those affected for a “good fee.”
All of this has accumulated to Monday’s Fortnite headline, to which Eurogamer obtained Barbour’s email from ResponseSource, the site responsible for facilitating his request. The email is relatively similar to Barbour’s previous attempts, this time offering a higher specified fee of £300 and a credit to the clinic or therapist. When the story was released, it included minor celebrity counsellor Steve Pope as the person who is supposedly treating the affected teen, previously appearing on ITV’s This Morning, and the BBC’s investigation into video game addiction.
There’s nothing to say that the Fortnite story doesn’t hold truth, but Barbour’s history with typical mainstream media practices definitely casts doubt as to just how much is fabricated. Neither Barbour, the Daily Mirror or Steve Pope has come forward to comment on the matter as of yet.
KitGuru Says: Barbour might be a single perpetrator of such questionable practices, but make no mistake, this is unfortunately a regular occurrence in mainstream media. Hopefully the Mirror wises up and adjusts its methods going forward.