Terrible Journalism Isn't Confined to Tabloids you know

It isn’t just tabloid newspapers that are guilty of writing completely pointless news stories, as the Telegraph prove today with this ‘gem’: ‘Missing cat poster brings £75 graffiti fine‘. ‘A teacher who put up “missing” posters in a bid to find her beloved cat Fluffy was astonished to be hit with a £75 for graffiti by her local council’ starts the Telegraph, before quoting the shocked cat-owner:

Mrs Dyson said home-made posters have helped people to find missing pets for centuries and should be treated differently.

“In a world where there is less and less community spirit, to impose a law and fine me for something like this is horrible,” she said. “Pets are a very important part of people’s lives. Without those notices, I would never have got her back.

Fair enough, you would be entitled to think, it does seem to be pretty harsh to fine someone for putting up a missing cat poster or two. Wait, what’s this at the end of the article:

A spokesman for Waltham Forest Council said the fine, issued last month, was given “in error” and later cancelled.

“In this case a mistake was made and we would like to apologise unreservedly to Ms Dyson for any offence or alarm that was caused,” he said.

Oh, so my outrage at the council jobsworths seems to be completely wrong, and the Telegraph article seems a monumental waste of time and the headline is a complete lie. The trouble is with the practice of churnalism this story is picked up and regurgitated all across the Internet because – sadly – people are fooled by the headline into thinking that the owner was genuinely fined £75 for putting up the poster, rather than it being a simple mistake. The truth, as usual, has been lost by the way it has been reported, but more importantly, this kind of drivel should never have even been reported in the first place.

Remember: just because it is printed on bigger pages doesn’t necessarily mean it is any good.

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