Monthly Archives: March 2011

Daily Mail polls readers on nonexistent EU car ban

Minority Thought has already covered the Daily Express story that claimed the EU was trying to ban all cars from cities – a story that turned out – unsurprisingly – to be absolute rubbish. As stated quite clearly by the European Commission in the UK:

Contrary to comments made by a government Minister today, the European Commission is not considering an EU level ban on cars in city centres by 2050. Cities are of course best placed to decide their own transport mix.

Today’s Transport White Paper acknowledges that many European cities are struggling with the challenges of congestion, noise pollution, traffic jams and so on. Something needs to be done and phasing out conventional combustion engines is a realistic objective. The role of the European level is to help the shift to alternative forms of transport take place, and make them more attractive to users.

No one city or even country can act alone to bring on stream the technologies needed to tackle the challenges of transport in Europe’s cities. That is where action at European level can help. But a blanket ban on conventional cars is not on the table.

Furthermore, Minority Thought discovered via Twitter that the Commission had actually sent a statement to a number of news desks to clarify that no such ban was being considered – without much hope that it would stop the predictable tabloid lies.

Naturally the Daily Mail has now waded in with their own story – the byline goes to the ‘Daily Mail Reporter’ as presumably the hack who wrote it was too embarrassed to claim it: ‘EU plans to ban all petrol and diesel cars from cities to force drivers to go “green” [istyosty.com link]’. The article starts:

The vast majority of British motorists will be outlaws in their own land under controversial new EU plans to ban petrol and diesel powered cars from cities.

The Daily Mail found no space to mention the truth, but did find time to get some quotes from the usual rent-a-quote loons:

Christopher Monckton, transport spokesman for the UK Independence Party’ said: “The proposals suggested by Commission take us into the realms of fantasy. They want to ban cars from cities, they want to force everybody onto rail and canals, it is if they have been taken over by the shade of the Victorian engineers.

‘They may as well call for an end to wars and large subsidised chocolate cakes for pre-school infants as to make these impossible self aggrandising statements”…

The eurosceptic think-tank Open Europe criticised the plan: ‘This goes to show the extent of the EU’s ambitions to interfere in the UK’s national affairs. Banning all petrol-fuelled cars in city centres is an absolutely crazy idea and one that could only have come from unaccountable bureaucrats in the European Commission.’

They also found time to poll their readers:

Mail invents a question for a poll

Just appalling journalism.

Anti-journalism

Facebook puts vulnerable children at risk of depression, warn doctors‘ [istyosty link]. From the article:

‘A lot of what’s happening is actually very healthy, but it can go too far,’ [Dr Megan Moreno] said…

Parents shouldn’t get the idea that using Facebook ‘is going to somehow infect their kids with depression,’ she said.

Too late, if people actually believe what they read on the Mail Online website.

In other news: ‘Isn’t it a bit early for that? Britney Spears films free concert for Good Morning America (and what a raunchy wake-up call it will be)‘ [istyosty link, has to be seen to be believed]. The article sees fit to demonstrate just how raunchy the routine is by accompanying it with 21 photos and 2 Youtube videos. This really is anti-journalism in action.

Sources & plagiarism

This Huffington Post story written on the 26th March was clearly attributed to Reuters, two days later and it appears on the Daily Mail website attributed to ‘Daily Mail Reporter’ without any mention of Reuters or the Huffington Post. Inputting the Huffington Post article into Churnalism.com and it shows that the Mail has cut 77% and pasted 82% with 3247 characters overlapping. Who knows, the Mail may have picked up the same wire copy from Reuters which explains the overlaps, but even if this is the case, why don’t they state that the story was sourced from Reuters?

If it is a case of the Mail ripping off the Huffington Post, it certainly wouldn’t be the first time they have been found guilty of wanton plagiarism.

March 26th old news already

Today’s front pages:

  • Daily Mail: ‘Fury over Bulger killer’s tryst with girl guard’, and a story about Princess Eugenie riding a bicycle.
  • Daily Star: ‘JORDAN: If I revealed what REALLY happened Alex would be destroyed for ever!’, a small piece about Sian O’Callaghan and another about Coleen Rooney.
  • Daily Mirror: ‘Back on the beach: Canoe man reveals how he faked death at scene of the crime’, some drivel about someone leaving Loose Women and a short intro piece on ‘Libya rape girl’.
  • The Sun: ‘Sian cops watched as suspect lit bonfire’, plus short piece on Libya and dancing on ice winner (I think, I can only view a tiny thumbnail of this front page, so I could be wrong).
  • The Independent: ‘Onwards to Triploi’, an advert for an article on ‘The toxic question of where the PM educates his children’ but it also advertises a story on the protests: ‘The protests carried a message the Government must hear’.
  • The Daily Telegraph: ‘Britain is open for business, say top investors'; some drivel about Princes Will and Harry and their stag do, an article on how ‘Anarchists “plan to target royal wedding”‘, some stuff about cancer drugs, Gaddafi and ‘A barbecue August’.
  • The Times: ‘Libya rebels close in on Gaddafi’s strongholds’, lots of other lead articles, too small to make out.
  • The Guardian: ‘Turkey offers to broker Libya ceasefire as rebels advance’, an article on Mansion tax, the Bank on England inflation forecast for 2012 and a small advert for an article on the demonstration – ‘Britain can still state a good demo – pity about the mini-mob who gave the tabloids their headlines’.

I know the demonstration was held on Saturday and that most newspapers covered it on their front pages yesterday, but not everyone buys a Sunday paper and doesn’t the demonstration deserve further prominent coverage? This is the main problem with our current media, all news is old news before we have even had the time to properly digest it. It is replaced, each day with something else to distract us. Except that this isn’t always the case, when it comes to speculation the front pages can be dedicated to the same topic for as long is as needed – the media furore over Joanna Yeates for example dominated front pages with nothing more than lurid, invasive and malicious speculation.

Yet as today demonstrates, when they have the chance to reflect on something important, something solid – a topic that requires careful consideration instead of mindless speculation – they fail, every single time, to provide it.

Shocking ‘journalism’ from the Mail on Sunday

A lot of people on Twitter yesterday predicted that the Mail on Sunday would cover the March 26th protests only in terms of violence or vandalism and they were not wrong:

According to the Guardian more than a quarter of a million people marched – the vast majority peacefully – on London yesterday, so the Mail on Sunday decides to ignore that and instead publish a photo that appears to show just 3 people smashing a window. It’s the worst kind of ideological journalism and it paints a completely distorted picture of what actually took place yesterday.

It gets worse for the Mail on Sunday when you see their ‘exclusive’ on Gordon Brown, which is also online [istyosty.com link]: ‘The seven months pregnant woman told to give up her British Airways seat… just so Gordon Brown could fly Club Class’. The headline seems to be a complete lie, given that BA issued a clear statement to the Mail:

A spokeswoman for the airline said Mr Brown’s arrival on the flight was a coincidence, and he had been unfairly blamed by the mutinous passengers.

‘The situation had absolutely nothing to do with Gordon Brown,’ she said. ‘We have apologised to [the complainant] and we have offered to pay compensation.

‘It is very rare for a customer not to be able to travel in the cabin that they have booked and we are extremely sorry that this happened on this flight. Gordon Brown and his party were booked in advance and were not involved in any way.’

Indeed, the denial was so clear that when the Mail on Sunday contacted Gordon Brown’s office they received the following response:

‘I assume you have read the BA statement and are now not ­running the story…

‘As BA has made clear, the arrangements were nothing to do with Mr Brown, who had booked his flight and seats well in advance and made no requests for – nor received – any special treatment.

‘As BA will confirm, all questions about bookings, overbookings and allocations of seats are not – and could not be – a matter for Mr Brown but for British Airways.’

But run the story they did, on the front page, as if it were based on something more substantial than the opinion of an anonymous passenger. I wonder if Brown’s office will register a complaint with the PCC, or whether they might just get the lawyers in? It seems to me that the Mail on Sunday thought they were onto a winner, had it totally destroyed by the BA statement but decided to run with it anyway under a completely dishonest headline.

A bad day for the Sun

From Football365’s Mediawatch page:

The World’s Worst Racist

‘BRUCE IN NEW RACE ROW’ positively screams the back page headline from The Sun in two-inch high letters, reporting that Bruce ‘has been caught up in another race storm.’

Oh lord. Really? It seems that Marcos Angeleri, the Argentine defender signed by Sunderland in the summer, is not happy that he has made only two Premier League appearances this season.

“The boss doesn’t talk to me, he doesn’t even say hello to me when he sees me,” Angeleri told ESPN Radio. “I think he doesn’t like me because I’m not English.”

Let’s ignore for a second the difference between racism and xenophobia, and the wonderful irony of The Sun getting all worked up about such xenophobia, and muse on Angeleri’s accusations.

If Bruce’s team selection is based on xenophobia/racism, then he’s bloody rubbish at it, since just this season he has given starts to an Egyptian, two Paraguayans, two Scots, a Belgian, three Ghanaians, a Frenchman, an Irishman, a Beninian (is that right?), a Nigerian and a Dutchman.

Could your lack of action perhaps be because you’re not very good, Marcos?

As for The Sun, their claim of an EXCLUSIVE! for this story, taken from quotes given to a radio station, is the least of our worries. How about their attempt to paint Bruce as a serial racist, the other example being Gerard Houllier’s equally nonsensical accusation over the Darren Bent transfer?

Still, more fool us for expecting anything better, really.

Amateurs

The Sun also indulges in a round of back-slapping this morning, terribly pleased with themselves for apparently being the ONLY paper to break the news of Gareth Bale’s injury, according to them in training for Wales.

Mediawatch would simply note Gary Speed’s comments in his press conference, in which he insisted that the ‘incompetent amateurs’ that fitness coach/assistant Raymond Verheijen was referring to in his Tweet of Thursday morning were not Spurs, as was claimed, but in fact the hacks from The Sun who reported the story.

Latest PCC resolutions and adjudications

The Press Complaints Commission upheld a complaint against the Scottish Daily Mail under clause 4 (Harassment) of the Editor’s Code of Practice. The newspaper persisted in ‘approaching a man who had repeatedly made clear to the newspaper that he did not wish to comment on a story about his son':

The complainant’s son was a Scottish university student who had attended the demonstrations about tuition fees in London. The newspaper published two articles about his son’s involvement in the protests, including a photograph of him allegedly attempting to take a police officer’s hat. Reporters and photographers representing the newspaper had attended the family home in Scotland four times within 24 hours seeking a comment. On each occasion, the family made clear they did not wish to speak to journalists, and asked them to leave the property. There was one additional approach to the complainant near his home, which led to him contacting the police.

The newspaper’s sole punishment was having to publish the adjudication on page 6 of the Scottish Daily Mail, but:

Following the complaint, the newspaper was willing to write a private letter of regret to the complainant and circulated an internal note making clear that the family would have no comment on future stories.

A complaint was ‘resolved’ by the Scottish Sun:

Councillor Paul Rooney complained to the Press Complaints Commission through Glasgow City Council that an article was misleading when it implied that he was responsible for a Christmas tree being put up by the Council near his home.

Resolution:

The complaint was resolved when the PCC negotiated the publication of the following clarification:
In an article, dated November 26, we reported that Glasgow City Council had erected a Christmas tree near the home of Councillor Paul Rooney. Although we reported at the time that Cllr Rooney had no involvement, it was not stated by us that the decision to plant the tree there pre-dated his election to the council in May 2007 and that he had explicitly asked for it to be moved away from his home. We are happy to make this clear.

So, the resolution is an appalling piece of journalism is corrected four months after the original article was published, by which point none of the original readers would probably care about the correction. Isn’t the PCC fantastic?

Another councillor (Peter Langdon) complained about the Daily Telegraph which had reported that:

Gosport Borough Council sent ninety-three delegates to Madrid on a waste collection contract visit at a cost of £17,350. In fact, four people went on the visit, which cost £988. The newspaper had subsequently published an inaccurate correction to the article.

The Daily Telegraph published the following correction:

Our reports (25 Jan and 4 Feb) gave the wrong details of Gosport Council’s trips to research future waste management services. In fact, the total cost of 23 visits across the UK and in Spain was £7,350. This included £988 for sending four people to Madrid.

Quite a substantial difference from the original claims.

The Scotsman reported that someone’s partner was a sex offender – they weren’t – and had to issue the following clarification:

This article was amended on February 11. Our original report stated the partner of Child D’s mother was a convicted sex offender. This is not the case and his conviction was for common assault only. The Scotsman apologises for the error.

Daily Mail being dense over fuel duty cut

The Daily Mail’s front-page story today is this: ‘After Osborne’s bid to help drivers… GREEDY GARAGES DEFY THE PETROL PRICE CUT’. It starts:

DRIVERS condemned greedy garages last night for failing to pass on the Chancellor’s cut in fuel duty.

If the Daily Mail had looked into the matter – by which I mean spent just a couple of minutes thinking about it – they would probably have come across the words of Brian Madderson, the chairman of the RMI Independent Petrol Retailers, who pointed out that:

“It seems that the chancellor and the Treasury are unaware that 6,000 independent retailers across the country buy their fuel on duty paid basis from the terminal.”

“That means that old stocks off have to sold off before the duty reduction can come into force.”

As for the claims that many garages put up prices before the budget to negate any real decrease in their prices, I’m sure most drivers will agree that 1p plus rises have been occurring frequently since the start of the year, it’s hardly a conspiracy that they should also be raised this week. As an AA spokesman (normally critical of petrol retailers not passing on lower prices to customers) said:

“My view is there may be a few mavericks out there. But I don’t think there is evidence that there has been large scale fiddling.”

Still, the mass of public perception referred to as ‘DRIVERS’ is front-page news just because they think that all garages are greedy, that the forecourt price cut should have happened at 6pm on the day of the budget even though the garages would not have even had a chance to buy fuel duty-paid at the new ‘low’ price.

It’s a very silly front-page story indeed and one that kind of misses the point: the price of diesel and petrol is forcing people to give up commuting in their cars and a 1p cut in fuel duty is not going to make any difference to those suffering genuine fuel poverty. The real story is that thanks to a chronic lack on investment – caused by consistent government short-sightedness (only concerned with being re-elected) the public transport system is simply not able to cope with rising demand.

Congested, noisy, diesel-hungry trains and buses often reduced to standing-room only added to the fact that it is often surprisingly expensive to use public transport and it can add hours to your working day – that should be the real story here. That every time any kind of revolution in public transport is put forward it is shot down as being ‘too expensive’ so we end up with often prohibitively expensive personal transport options and an expensive, poor public alternative.

The Family Paper

I don’t think this screengrab needs much of an introduction because it’s become so typical of what you can expect to find on the wall of flesh that makes up the Mail Online ‘Femail’ section:

The question in particular is a very unsavoury reminder of the recent Mail coverage [link takes you to No Sleep ‘Til Brooklands excellent post on the subject] of the gang-rape of two twelve-year-old girls and the sympathy given to the perpetrators because it was implied that they couldn’t tell the real age of the girls and believed them to be sixteen. I really do wonder if the person responsible for asking it could provide any logical justification for putting it under the headline?

It also needs to be asked how such Mailbait coverage – which clearly seems to be aimed at men – can justifiably be put into the Femail section of the website?

A new low

It’s always a dilemma whether to publicise Richard Littlejohn’s attempts to enrage people through being purposefully offensive. The TV advert for Littlejohn and the Mail demonstrated that Richard likes to be thought of as a powerful, dangerous writer – the sound of gunshots as he hits each key on his laptop – but his columns demonstrate that he is a worthless coward prepared only to attack the most disenfranchised, isolated victims of society – be it women who worked as prostitutes, people killed in genocides or in the case of today’s column: victims of a devastating earthquake and tsunami.

Richard Littlejohn is not an intelligent writer, he is not a witty writer, he is not a powerful or philosophical writer. He will never win plaudits for being any good, so he therefore attempts to be the most offensive; he mistakes causing offence with being genuinely thought-provoking.

Today he wrote about the Japanese earthquake and Tsunami [istyosty.com link]. He started with the usual caveat:

No one with a shred of humanity can fail to be moved by some of the pictures coming out of Japan, whether an elderly woman being rescued from the rubble or frightened, bewildered schoolchildren waiting in vain for parents who will never return.

The devastation is on a biblical scale. Comparisons have been drawn with the dropping of the atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

And:

It is wrong to visit the sins of previous generations on their modern descendants, although that doesn’t prevent the British Left constantly trying to make us feel guilty for centuries-old grievances, from the slave trade to the Irish potato famine.

But (or ‘yet’ for a nice change of pace from Richard):

Yet many surviving members of the Burma Star Association still harbour deep animosity to everyone and all things Japanese, 65 years after VJ Day.

They won’t want to be associated with the expressions of sympathy over the earthquake and tsunami. And who can blame them?

Like thousands of other British servicemen who were tortured in Japanese prisoner-of-war camps, my wife’s late grandfather, Harold Tuck, would never have joined a minute’s silence for Japan.

Until the day he died, Harold would refuse to remove his shirt, not even on the beach on the hottest day of the year. The scars inflicted by his sadistic Japanese captors were too horrible to be exposed to the harsh light of day.

Were he alive today, he would have remained doggedly in his seat if requested to stand in silent tribute to the dead of Japan.

The online version also features two pictures: one of the recent destruction and one of starving POWs. Nothing more needs to be said – or can be said in the face of such offensive bile – but I would like to point out to Richard the following:

  • Japan is home to 8,665,440 boys aged between 0-14
  • Japan is home to 8,212,680 girls aged between 0-14
  • Japan is home to 40,969,829 men aged between 15-64
  • Japan is home to 40,291,648 girls aged between 15-64
  • This means that 77.4% of Japan’s population were not even born until after the end of WWII

Perhaps what is even worse than this is that Richard Littlejohn uses his wife’s dead grandad as a vehicle for this column. He puts words into a dead man’s mouth, imagining that he is as cruel and incapable of empathy as he is. That – even for Littlejohn – is low, very low.