The Sun apologises for Hillsborough but it won't be forgiven

Suspicion persists that the paper's real motive is a commercial one.

The Sun was undoubtedly right to lead with Hillsborough on its front page this morning. It would have been hopelessly evasive to relegate the story to a later section.

Some have accused the paper of attempting to divert the blame for its smears onto the police, as Kelvin MacKenzie did yesterday ("I too was totally misled"). But its editorial, at least, offers something close to an unconditional apology.

[I]t is to the eternal discredit of The Sun that we reported as fact this misinformation which tarnished the reputation of Liverpool fans including the 96 victims.

Today we unreservedly apologise to the Hillsborough victims, their families, Liverpool supporters, the city of Liverpool and all our readers for that misjudgment.

The role of a newspaper is to uncover injustice. To forensically examine the claims made by those who are in positions of power.

In the aftermath of the Hillsborough tragedy we failed.

This isn't the first time that the title has attempted to make amends for its coverage of the deaths. In 2004 after Wayne Rooney was criticised for selling his life story to the tabloid, it ran a full-page editorial, stating that it had "committed the most terrible mistake in its history", and apologising "without reservation". Rooney, it said, should not be punished for its "past sins".

That apology was not accepted and, one expects, this one won't be received any differently. Merseyside's 23-year boycott of the paper, which led sales in the area to fall from around 55,000 a day to 12,000, will almost certainly continue (many newsagents refuse to stock it as a matter of principle), and suspicion will persist that the paper's real motive is a commercial one.

Hillsborough, unsurprisingly, is on the front of almost all of today's papers (the Mail's front page is particularly poignant), with the notable exception of the Daily Telegraph which, bizarrely, makes no reference to the story on its front page. The Daily Express, meanwhile, acknowledges a "shocking cover-up", but rather spoils the effect with its main headline, "Migrants blamed for surge in crime".

A poster urging people to boycott the Sun is pasted to a wall near Liverpool's Anfield stadium. Photograph: Getty Images.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Quiz: Can you identify fake news?

The furore around "fake" news shows no sign of abating. Can you spot what's real and what's not?

Hillary Clinton has spoken out today to warn about the fake news epidemic sweeping the world. Clinton went as far as to say that "lives are at risk" from fake news, the day after Pope Francis compared reading fake news to eating poop. (Side note: with real news like that, who needs the fake stuff?)

The sweeping distrust in fake news has caused some confusion, however, as many are unsure about how to actually tell the reals and the fakes apart. Short from seeing whether the logo will scratch off and asking the man from the market where he got it from, how can you really identify fake news? Take our test to see whether you have all the answers.

 

 

In all seriousness, many claim that identifying fake news is a simple matter of checking the source and disbelieving anything "too good to be true". Unfortunately, however, fake news outlets post real stories too, and real news outlets often slip up and publish the fakes. Use fact-checking websites like Snopes to really get to the bottom of a story, and always do a quick Google before you share anything. 

Amelia Tait is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman.