Winterval: Still alive and kicking

Remember the dim and distant days of November 2011 when the Daily Mail published a correction to a Melanie Phillips article in which they finally acknowledged that Winterval had never renamed Christmas:

We stated in an article on 26 September that Christmas has been renamed in various places Winterval. Winterval was the collective name for a season of public events, both religious and secular, which took place in Birmingham in 1997 and 1998. We are happy to make clear that Winterval did not rename or replace Christmas.

As I wrote recently in my E-Book about Winterval (which this blog post will repeatedly plug) this correction from the Daily Mail did more to kill the myth than any debunking had managed before, and apart from the occasional mention the myth had pretty much died.

However, the Daily Mail has – 3 days ago – published another article on the myth: ‘She may as well have wished us Happy Winterval!’ MP who sent out Happy Holidays card faces backlash for ‘marginalising’ Christmas’. The article suggests – in one of the Mail Online’s various bullet-point sub-headings – that such a card ‘Draws comparisons to the 1990s Winterval furore in Birmingham’. The Mail also makes room for the following handy reminder to readers:


This little box is crammed full of lies. Winterval was never about ‘reflect[ing] the diverse nature of the city’s population’, nor did the council ever say anything about making the city a more welcoming place for ethnic groups. These are lies, I have read every single piece of news coverage, in both local and national newspapers, since 1997 on this subject and I have never, ever seen anything that could possibly justify these assertions. I know this will not come as a shock, but the Daily Mail is making this up, they are lying to their readers.

As for the then Bishop of Birmingham’s comments, they were made a year after the initial Winterval celebrations in 1997 (of which he seems to have been completely oblivious) and they were reported by a newspaper that up until that point had not criticised Winterval at all – indeed, newspaper reports after the 1997 event talked about what a success it had been and how Winterval 1998 was going to be bigger and better.

If you care about the state of journalism, or you want others to realise just how happy newspapers are to make stuff up to incite hatred towards target groups, then please buy and read my E-book on the Winterval myth. It will – I think – open the eyes of any reader as to how one little myth can fuel a media narrative (atheists / Muslims / PC brigade are banning Christmas) for over 15 years, and how in each passing year the original myth becomes more and more embellished to suit the political needs of the newspaper at the time.

In other news, Ann Widdecombe recently crammed as many media myths into a few hundred words as I’ve ever seen, including Winterval and a Dr Chris Allen has completely ripped-off all of my research into Winterval in a blog post in which he basically rejigs my writing on the topic – adding nothing new.

The only way anyone can make me feel better is to buy my E-book:


Daily Mail stealing photos again

The Mail Online has covered a story about a Great White shark in San Diego swimming near surfers [FreezePage link]. The story includes 6 photographs and it seems as if the Mail Online has been guilty of using the photographs without seeking the permission of the person who took them. Luckily the photographer happened to see that the Mail had used his photos and he even managed to get a comment through [click here for full size version]:

Interesting that he notes other news agents seemed concerned with making sure the photos were genuine before running them, something that I suppose the Mail Online doesn’t need to do when all they are doing is churnalising the story from other sources.

Big hat tip to @jeffpickthall for giving me this information.

Daily Mail still stealing online content

So, yesterday the Daily Mail shuts down for copyright infringement whilst claiming that they were entitled to recover all of the – in the words of the lawyers representing Associated Newspapers – ‘ill-gotten profits’ made by as a result of caching Mail Online articles.

As usual, the Daily Mail is being deeply hypocritical and relying – once more – on simply bullying the opposition with expensive lawyers because the Daily Mail have a deserved reputation for stealing online content without any attempt at payment or attribution. You see, the Daily Mail can always find money for expensive lawyers, but they cannot find money to pay others for the use of their content; in the same way that they can moan that have stolen precious web hits yet when they steal stories from websites they don’t even have the courtesy to provide a weblink. The Mail is happy to apply the dark arts to steal online content, but is not prepared to engage in any form of standard web etiquette.

A brilliant example was pointed out in the comments on this blog last night because the Daily Mail got into touch with a blogger who had taken a photo of a fashion store with a mannequin with should-probably-be-dead thin legs and pointed out that this was another example of the unrealistic body image being sold to women. The Daily Mail asked if they could use the photos, the blogger said yes, but only if the Daily Mail would pay £250 to a charity of the blogger’s choice. The Daily Mail claimed that they could not afford to pay that kind of fee and when the blogger responded that in that case they could not use the image the Mail replied to acknowledge that fact.

The Mail Online then went ahead and lifted the story and pictures anyway, and even had the cheek to make it look as if the blogger had given the story and their thoughts to the Mail (kind of a Hari moment). I can only hope that the blogger pursues the Mail for payment or copyright infringement with as much vigour as the Mail does. I can recommend you have a read through the comments on that blog as well because people are linking to many other examples of the Mail blatantly and unapologetically stealing online content.

This was brought to my attention and covered by onlythatinyou, visit their blog for more.

Daily Mail lawyers strike again

After my own issues with the lawyers of the Daily Mail a while back (see here and here for details) they have now been in touch with the excellent and have essentially managed to shut them down. In a letter which you can read on the website the webmaster is told that:

Your deliberate attempt to interfere with Associated o’hits” Newspapers’ ability to get valuable to its website, through the willful infringement of our clients copyrights, are irreparably damaging to Associated News. Under the law, Associated News is entitled not only to injunctive relief against you, but also is entitled to receive awards of damages, recovery of your ill-gotten profits, and to recover the attorneys’ fees and costs it incurs as a-result of your violations of law. Statutory damages alone may be awarded in the amount of $ 150,000 per work infringed…

I particularly like the claim that had somehow made ‘ill-gotten profits’ from caching Mail articles – quite how was supposed to be making revenue is completely unclear, but that doesn’t stop a Daily Mail scare letter from making the claim anyway (like the newspaper, the letter seems a big fan of threatening hyperbole).

So, another website has been successfully neutered by the Daily Mail – which some of you might view as perfectly valid, given that it was created to attempt to rob the Daily Mail of hits and therefore potential revenue. However, I think the website was more about sending the Daily Mail a message about the tactics that it uses to drive traffic to its website. Essentially the Mail Online website has become a powerful Internet troll, sucking in outraged traffic as it produces article after article of staggering ignorance or offence to which people feel compelled to read and respond to.

I am no better, given that I respond in detail on this blog, but whilst the Internet troll that is not fed with responses will ultimately go away, the Mail Online trolling isn’t going to because it has such a large platform and its trolling only supplements the traffic generated by celebrity drivel – so it matters not whether I blog about it or not, I am not the only one feeding it.

I guess we have to look on the positive side of things and acknowledge that legal action is at least an acknowledgement that the Mail group are becoming increasingly annoyed at their ‘product’ coming under attack online, no matter how small in terms of revenue or traffic those attacks are.

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 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.