We're celebrating J.K. Rowling's courtroom win!
Daily Mail is a publication that’s not exactly known to be the most reliable source. For Internet readers, Daily Mail is considered our guilty little pleasure, the digital equivalent of passing by tabloids at the grocery store. While many stories are just flat-out gossip-y, some are actually super damaging —in fact, the website has run into trouble with celebrities, and has faced multiple libel lawsuits.
Back in 2003, actress Diana Rigg was awarded a heavy sum of money over a Daily Mail story commenting on aspects of her personality. Three years later, Sir Elton John garnered a victory of his own following false accusations concerning his manners and behavior. Fast forward to present-day London: the Daily’s gotten itself into trouble again, and this time, it’s with none other than Harry Potter-scribe J.K. Rowling. But the author is walking away with her head held high —and we couldn’t be more proud!
News broke today that Rowling has (finally) been “fully vindicated and her reputation restored” following a yearlong battle with the Daily Mail. If you haven’t kept up with the story, we’ll catch you up really quick: In January 2014, Rowling had sued the paper after they published a story suggesting she had told a “sob story” about being stigmatized by churchgoers in the ’90s who judged her life as a single mother.
Of course, the piece, lengthily titled, “How JK Rowling’s sob story about her past as a single mother has left the churchgoers who cared for her upset and bewildered,” was immediately deemed as “completely false and indefensible” by a judge and has since then been rightfully removed from the Daily Mail website. The newspaper had also been required to issue a public apology, as well as pay the writer substantial damages, which Rowling (bless her dear heart!) will be donating to charity. You go girl!
The whole mess actually started in 2013 when Rowling penned a piece for Gingerbread, her single-parent-focused website, discussing her proudest moments as a single mother and the social stigmatization so many like her sometimes face. She also discusses the help she received from peers during that difficult time and how “immensely grateful” she is to have had that support.
Within the story, however, Rowling briefly mentions some discomfort she felt after an encounter with a fellow churchgoer:
Well, instead of checking (and rechecking) all the facts, Daily Mail unfortunately headed in a whole other direction by running a story alleging that the piece Rowling wrote accused churchgoers of “cruelly taunting” her. That’s quite a stretch. What’s more is that “the woman” quoted in their story claims not to have been “upset” nor “bewildered” and takes the author’s side, claiming that the Daily Mail was “misleading and unfair.”
So there you have it. There are more than a few lessons to be learned from all this. One: Read something very carefully before you actually choose to write about it. Two: It’s not OK to willfully deceive readers with truly preposterous reporting. And Three: Don’t mess with J.K. Rowling because, well, she’s J.K. Rowling!
Way to go on the win, Ms. Rowling. We are celebrating along with you!