‘Not a finger-jabbing rant’

Many news organisations are getting themselves into a flap over Owen Hargreaves comments in an interview given to Daniel Taylor in the Guardian: ‘Owen Hargreaves: “It felt like I was made out of glass”‘. Taylor makes clear at the start that:

Despite the magnitude of what he is saying, it is not bitterness in Owen Hargreaves’s voice. There is no overwhelming sense of malice or resentment and, at various moments, he talks warmly of all the “lovely people” he came across during those years at Manchester United when he was faced with his hardest times.

It is not a finger-jabbing rant and, now with Manchester City, he is sensitive to stirring up trouble between the two clubs.

However:

equally, there is the sense of a man who is clear in his mind that the medical staff at Old Trafford administered the wrong treatment for his knee problems and put his career on the line just at the point when he should have been at the peak of his profession.

He talks of being used as a “guinea pig” and wishing that he had had the foresight to say no when the club’s medical staff decided to treat his extreme form of tendinitis with a series of injections.

So, Hargreaves clearly believes that he was administered the wrong treatment for his knee whilst at Manchester United, but he isn’t ranting about it and Taylor’s balanced account of the interview makes this clear.

Sadly, about an hour later the Guardian covered the story again in a different part of their website, note the not-exactly-subtle change of tone in the headline: ‘Owen Hargreaves says Manchester United treated him like a “guinea pig”‘. Sigh. This is followed by a much more antagonistic account of the interview and the story then quickly made its way around the other newspapers and news organisations and now they are following up with ‘Fergie blasts back’ headlines and the story is set to run and run.

All easy copy, no doubt, but it’s all much ado about nothing. Like so much of newspaper content.

Online Bullying

Mail scribbler Martin Robinson has a cracking article about the ‘online hate campaigns’ aimed at female University Challenge contestents. Nice of a Daily Mail writer to be worried about the treatment of women – shame the article appears next to the wall of female celebrity flesh and judgement – but still, he raises a valid point. Robinson screen grabs some abusive messages from Facebook aimed at Gail Trimble – who the Mail introduce as the ‘most high profile victim of a sustained online hate campaign’ and looks at how such people are abused just for being clever. It is true the abuse she suffered back in 2009 earned her significant coverage in the Daily Mail – including a page 2 story, an editorial mention and a whole column from Melanie Phillips about how clever people are targets in dumbed-down age.

In 2009 the Mail said she was attacked by ‘internet bloggers as smug, patronising and superior’. Just one major problem with that, the ‘Internet bloggers’ quoted in the page 2 article were actually comments left on the Mail website by Mail website users. Melanie Phillips attacked the same comments. The Daily Mail had actually lifted comments from their own website, from their own readers and attempted to pass them off as some orchestrated Internet hate campaign conducted by un-named ‘bloggers’. It seems that over 2 years later they finally have some valid screen grabs of abuse not dished out on their own website, so I guess they can call this progress.

Dear Paul Dacre: there is more to journalism than sales

Paul Dacre has long tried to assure readers that the freedom of the press is critical to its survival. This includes the right of the press to continue its system of self regulation and to be protected from ‘the scandalous fees charged by lawyers in no-win no-fee cases’ – fees payable when a newspaper loses a libel or defamation case in court. At the same time Paul Dacre has reserved a special level of contempt for any newspaper that dares to criticise the newspaper industry or in general ‘denigrate’ it by daring to have a media section.

One newspaper that the Mail constantly criticises is the Guardian – and the Mail is not alone, the Guardian is almost universally scorned as some kind of lentil-munching-lilly-livered-liberal-cesspit. In an editorial in 2010 the Daily Mail published the following:

The all-party Commons Culture Committee report is to be commended for accepting that self-regulation is the best way of policing Britain’s newspapers and for identifying many of the threats to Press freedom…

And if a certain heavily loss-making, chattering class newspaper spent half the energy it devotes to its almost psychotic hatred of self-regulation and popular newspapers to improving its own lamentable performance, then it and Fleet Street would be in a healthier state.

I wonder if Paul Dacre and the Daily Mail would like to apologise to the Guardian and to its readers for how it has forgotten that journalism is about more than sales figures. Clearly, the Guardian has been right to investigate the rotten state of journalism and have been noble in accepting that this kind of investigative journalism will not just make them a financial loss, but will also ensure them few friends inside or outside of the industry. It is undeniable that the self-regulation of the newspaper industry has been a complete failure and the dissolution of the Press Complaints Commission is now inevitable – another promised review and more worthless talk of lessons learnt from those at the top of the PCC are utterly out-of-step with reality. The press – like the banks they had so much fun attacking – have demonstrated beyond all reasonable doubt that they are not fit to regulate themselves.

The Guardian has devoted some of its energy to uncovering the horrific abuses carried out in the name of journalism by the News of the World and their work has resulted in the unprecedented closure of that newspaper. The Daily Mail website currently leads with this story, quick to jump on the bandwagon set rolling solely by the efforts on the Guardian. Until this week the Daily Mail have been one of the newspapers most keen to smash the wheels off of this bandwagon to ensure it never started rolling in the first place. As ever the Mail is hypocritical and, as ever, they are quick to join in the damning of others – describing the News of the World as ‘THE PAPER THAT DIED OF SHAME’.

Well, some of the shame should be felt by those working for the Daily Mail – and by Paul Dacre who controls so closely the editorial line of the newspaper. Dacre should be ashamed – not to mention utterly embarrassed – that whilst the Guardian struggled to make headway in a long story of hacking – starting with politicians and celebrities – he was editorialising about the scourge of wheelie bins and other inane drivel.

The Guardian having the temerity to investigate the actions of another newspaper is not a sign that the Guardian has a ‘almost psychotic hatred of self-regulation and popular newspapers’. It is merely that thing called journalism. Paul Dacre and the rest of the staff working for the Daily Mail should look that word up some time. Who knows, with enough effort they might even start practicing it again.

Press reform: the challenge of addiction

It’s becoming increasingly clear that a substantial section of our press is no longer serving to report the news, but rather functions as a full-blown arm of the entertainment industry. Accuracy, journalistic integrity and moral decency have been replaced by the overwhelming desire to sell as many newspapers and as much advertising space in those newspapers as possible. Whilst it could be argued that printing and selling newspapers has always been about the bottom line, Nick Davies in his book Flat Earth News makes a convincing argument that the bottom line used to go hand in hand (at least most of the time) with the basic tenets of journalism.

Perhaps the main driver for moving away from the traditional concept of what a newspaper is (you could easily argue that the name no longer accurately describes what is still known as a ‘newspaper’) is the slow decline in sales caused in part by the Internet, but also by Television and in particular the notion of 24-hour rolling news channels. People can dip in and out of news at their own convenience on their smartphones – with the freedom to choose from any supplier (except, perhaps, The Times which has moved behind a paywall). People don’t need to subscribe to newspapers anymore and the freedom to pick articles from different newspaper websites destroys the idea of traditional brand loyalty, or the expectation that we have to choose the one newspaper that best matches our own outlook.

In Flat Earth News Davies charts the downfall of real journalism as newspaper owners dealt with declining revenues by cutting staff and reducing money spent on investigative journalism. All of this could be easily replaced by making the remaining journalists produce more copy – gleaned largely from Wire services or simply re-written from other news sources. As the numbers of journalists declined so the the workload of those remaining increased until very often bylines indicated little more than who had copy-and-pasted a Press Release or straight copy from a wire service – without checks with regards to accuracy. Thus the notion of churnalism was born.

But this wasn’t the only consequence of declining revenues. Another significant consequence was the change in the product itself. News was no longer the exclusive domain of the newspaper. People could get it quicker, brighter and louder through their TV, radio or picked up on their PCs or smartphones via a social networking site or via the newspaper websites themselves. By the time the newspaper is printed it is already old: it is telling people very little they don’t already know. This meant that the newspaper had to change the nature of the what they did. They became not the breakers or news, but the masters of news commentary (or spin, as it is better known).

Newspapers became concerned far more with opinion – rather than tell us the news they thought they would tell what to think of the news that we had already heard about. Newspapers have abandoned any subtle pretence of neutrality in favour of essentially becoming one giant editorial. People choose newspapers as a filter, they pick the one that bests skewers the news around them to fit their own prejudices. It is, essentially, a slightly more adult way of putting your fingers in your eyes and screaming ‘la-la-la I can’t hear you’ to the rest of the news world.

The final consequence of the new business model is that any money spent by a given newspaper / editor must generate tangible profits for the newspaper. This means that given the choice between spending £3,000 on sending a journalist to a location for what could possibly be an important, newsworthy story (the kind of journalism the press always like to talk about when they tell us how important it is for them to have absolute freedom because they are out there, being journalists to act as a check and balance to the rich and powerful etc) and spending £3,000 buying a photo of Hugh Grant broken down in his car the editor will spend the £3,000 on the Hugh Grant picture every time. Celebrity drivel sells.

It’s expensive, but cheap at the same time. Whilst it might cost a fair bit for paparazzi photos of celebrity-x frolicking on the beach, the price is fixed and clear – all the time, equipment, plane tickets and incidental expenses etc have already been dealt with by the individual pap – the pap takes on the risk and the newspaper gets a guaranteed story for a fixed price.

This is where the addiction begins.

The evidence suggests that reporting on celebrities doing even the most inane things (going to the gym, washing hair, putting out bins, leaving home, arriving home, eating out, looking fat, looking thin, wearing clothes, wearing clothes they have worn before, walking their dogs, leaving a night club and generally doing anything at all that can be photographed) is big business. Sadly, there is a market for this drivel and it is growing. You only have to look at the massive growth the Daily Mail website has enjoyed – which is largely driven by celebrity stories and American web traffic. The Mail have even set up offices in LA to maximise the celebrity crap they can churn out.

Celebrity drivel is the new business plan for a lot of newspapers (like the Daily Star trying to shoehorn Jordan onto the front page of every edition with ever more elaborate inventions or their amazing run of front pages about Ryan Giggs) and it is becoming an addiction for both editors and readers alike. The editors need the sales that celebrity drivel can generate, and it seems enough of the public need celebrity to drivel to fill some kind of vacuum in their obviously meaningless and shallow existences.

Call me a snob if you want, but I kind of find it pretty depressing that the Mail website is currently running this story: ‘Kate Middleton: We’ve seen that dress before, Kate…on Sarah Jessica Parker in 2006!’. It is depressing thinking that a lot of people will probably be quite excited by this news story, or at least interested enough to click and have a look. It is even more depressing to think that at some point in the construction of this story someone who had perhaps wanted to be a journalist had somehow found themselves going through reams of images to find this obscure match and then having to write an article around these two pictures.

But all of this is irrelevant. All that matters is that this stuff does generate page views and shifts newspapers. Editors generally don’t print want no-one wants to read.

So here we are, trapped in a mutual addiction. The drive of newspapers to out-dig and out-titillate TV news led to phone-hacking becoming a standard technique and although it may have originally intended to be used for good it was soon being used to track the relationships of celebrities and eventually to eavesdrop on the grief of families (allegedly) and even to obstruct the Police in their investigations.

Bad journalism isn’t neatly isolated into pockets that we can cut out, it is rather a systematic product of an addictive pattern of selling us what isn’t actually any good for us. The press have become no better than a drug dealer, selling us cheap highs, quick fixes, dishonest scares and above all celebrity gossip. We know it’s bad for us, we know we should be doing something more worthwhile with our lives, but like any addiction it is hard to tear ourselves away from turning the same old pages for the same old content.

It’s just like the food industry packing everything with sugar, making us crave more and more of it as we encounter it in more and more products. If a food company now tried to market a healthy alternative to this they’re stuffed because everyone is addicted to products stuffed with sugar. We know such products are bad for us, but we buy them all the same. To rid ourselves of any addiction takes a lot of willpower, and it also takes a brave producer to try to sell us a product that they can only sell to those of us who want to go cold turkey.

Sadly, the reality of business dicates that an alternative product will only be offered once the original product is abandoned by the consumer. So, the question is, therefore: are we ready to give up the newspapers we currently happily consume?

Kia Abdullah is not a Guardian columnist

Paul Dacre, and therefore the Mail, seems to hold a special contempt for the Guardian. Dacre’s speech to the Society of Editors back in 2008 had lots to say about the criticism that newspapers received – largely because Dacre:

passionately believe[s] that Britain has the best newspapers in the world and – indeed, our papers today are as good as they’ve ever been.

He therefore seems to hold any newspaper that dare have a media section with a special contempt normally only reserved for the BBC:

Why does not a week go by that the media supplements and their columnists do not denigrate our industry as a whole?…

the problem, of course, is that it’s only leftish and liberal media outlets – who, almost by definition lose millions of pounds a year – that have media sections. With such a monopoly, they exert a huge and disproportionate influence on what people – particularly, I suspect, the judiciary – think of the British media.

In regards to his first rhetorical question: not a week goes without criticism because not a week goes by without exceptionally poor journalism being printed in the Mail, let alone all of the other tabloid newspapers. Secondly, Dacre seems to be in sync with the Mail outlook that somehow – even though the Sun and the Daily Mail are the top two selling newspapers in the UK – the ‘leftish and liberal media outlets’ have some kind of ‘monopoly’ going on. Presumably, Dacre – with sales of the Mail trouncing the sales of the Guardian – could easily break that monopoly by simply having their own media section.

Except, of course, tabloid editors rarely dish the dirt on other tabloids because they’re all waist deep in sewage and any ensuing shit-fight would see them all go under.

Anyway, this is a bit of context behind this headline today: ‘Guardian columnist Kia Abdullah Tweets cruel taunts death gap year boys‘ [istyosty.com link].

Kia Abdullah has indeed been stirring up a bit of controversy on Twitter with her comments about the death of three boys on a gap year. She isn’t however a Guardian columnist – even though the Mail describes her in the first two paragraphs as both  a ‘newspaper journalist’ and ‘Guardian columnist’. At the end of the article the Mail has to come clean (the article, as usual is attributed only to ‘The Daily Mail Reporter’) by quoting two Guardian statements. The first is pretty clear:

‘Kia Abdullah is an occasional freelance contributor to the Guardian’s Comment is Free website.

‘She has never been on contract, is not on the staff of the Guardian and has not written for any part of the Guardian since May 2010.

‘The Guardian is not responsible for what occasional contributors write on Twitter.’

The second even clearer:

Alan Rusbridger, editor-in-chief of Guardian News & Media, said: ‘Kia Abdullah is not, as has been reported, a Guardian journalist or a Guardian columnist. She is a novelist freelance writer who, in common with thousands of others, has written occasional pieces for our comment website. The last of these was 14 months ago.

‘Her grossly insensitive remarks were on her own personal Twitter feed, for which the Guardian has no responsibility and over which it has no control. Of course we deplore her comments and the distress they have caused the relatives and friends of Max, Bruno and Conrad. The Guardian would never have published such offensive comments.’

Indeed, the last comment is interesting because what kind of newspaper would publish offensive comments about the death of fellow human beings? Well, the Mail certainly don’t mind publishing offensive articles about the dead – indeed they pay columnists an awful lot of money to do just that.

In 2005 the highly-paid Mail columnist Richard Littlejohn thought he’d discuss the murders of five women who worked as prostitutes and the Mail published the following:

It might not be fashionable, or even acceptable in some quarters, to say so, but in their chosen field of “work”, death by strangulation is an occupational hazard.

That doesn’t make it justifiable homicide, but in the scheme of things the deaths of these five women is no great loss.

They weren’t going to discover a cure for cancer or embark on missionary work in Darfur. The only kind of missionary position they undertook was in the back seat of a car…

These five women were on the streets because even the filthiest, most disreputable back-alley “sauna” above a kebab shop wouldn’t give them house room.

The men who used them were either too mean to fork out whatever a massage parlour charges, or simply weren’t fussy. Some men are actually turned on by disgusting, drug-addled street whores.

Or what about the newspaper that published that article by Jan Moir in which she claimed in her title that ‘there was nothing ‘natural’ about Stephen Gately’s death’. Of course, Jan Moir is another highly-paid Mail columnist and her article – in which she maintained that: ‘Whatever the cause of death is, it is not, by any yardstick, a natural one. Let us be absolutely clear about this. All that has been established so far is that Stephen Gately was not murdered’ – holds the records for the most complained about article in British newspaper history and the Press Complaints Commission website broke under the strain of it all.

Only this week the Daily Mail have used the hugely unlucky accidental death of a 13-year-old girl as a tool to attack the teacher’s strike, disgracefully forcing the shocked and upset parents to issue a request that newspapers stop using their dead daughter to pursue their own agendas. Yet here the Mail is, calling for someone to be hunted down for their comments on Twitter – comments which were made to a tiny following of 862 and are now only becoming well known thanks to their repeated publication in the press.

Two main things strike me about this Mail article:

  1. It’s insulting that the Mail have the balls to fain outrage over the kind of stuff they print every other day in unattributed ‘Daily Mail Reporter’ articles and what they pay huge sums of money to columnists to write.
  2. If the Daily Mail wants to use these Twitter comments as a way of attacking the Guardian for unfairly criticising other newspapers – including the Mail – it probably doesn’t help that the article smugly attacking the Guardian is just another example of the sort of dishonest agenda-driven drivel that the Guardian’s media section frequently points out.

Twitter outrage guidelines

Yesterday the Mail website decided to run a story that even by its own very low standards was a shockingly insensitive and crude political attack. The Daily Mail is not afraid to use any excuse to attack public sector strikes and yesterday decided that the awful accidental death of a 13-year-old girl was the perfect chance to continue this attack. As reported by The Media Blog:

Daily Mail sinks to a new low

As The Media Blog comments:

[this] is surely a leap too far even for the Daily Mail, given it not only insults any notion of logic but also, more worryingly trivialises the death of a young girl for cheap political point scoring

What is becoming increasingly apparent each time a new Twitter storm arises from something the Daily Mail publishes online: nothing is a leap to far for the Daily Mail. The continued rise of the Daily Mail as becoming one of the largest ‘news’ websites in the world in terms of traffic does receive significant help from outraged individuals sharing such stories via social networking sites. This can be avoided quite easily if the following guidelines are followed:

  1. Never link to the Daily Mail website – instead use istyosty.com, copy the URL of the offending Daily Mail article into istyosty.com and it will store a cached version of the webpage for people to visit which means that the Daily Mail gets no additional visitors.
  2. Before clicking or sharing / retweeting a link, hover your mouse over it. If it is going to take you to the Mail website do not click it (unless to create an istyosty.com link). Tell the person sharing the link to stop linking to the Mail, tell them about istyosty.com or refer them to this page.
  3. Check to see if any bloggers have already covered the story. It is far better to link to link to a good blog on the subject because if the link is shared enough then that page can challenge the Mail article when it comes to Google searches for the given subject. Furthermore, this rewards the blogger for writing about the Mail and gives them some extra traffic which might help spread the message that the Mail is awful most of the time, not just on the isolated occasions when Twitter takes up a particular case.
  4. Don’t be afraid to share other links during the periods when Mail outrage is trending on Twitter. Use this as an opportunity to spread the word about good media bloggin sites who do deal with the really nasty narratives that are so often ignored on Twitter because they perhaps don’t fit into the narrow ‘outrage space’ that seems to be present in the minds of some Twitter users.
  5. Do share a link to the PCC if you feel that the article can be complained about legitimately. The more occasions the PCC in inundated with genuine, serious complaints the harder it will be for the media to continually justify self-regulation.

The Daily Mail article that was doing the rounds yesterday [istyosty.com link] no doubt generated a lot of traffic for the Mail website (it attracted 432 comments – a lot of them highly critical of the Mail’s angle) and eventually the Mail updated the headline of the article to remove the ‘because’ which directly attempted to blame striking teachers for the girl’s death and they remove a supposed Tweet that someone made blaming teachers for the death (people searching for it on Twitter couldn’t find this Tweet). However, the article still contains image captions which make the link between the death and the teacher’s strike even though the grieving family have been forced to issue a statement making it clear to the press that:

Our beloved daughter’s death was a tragic incident, which occurred only 24 hours ago, and we do not want it to be connected to any other events.

‘We politely ask that our privacy be respected at this time and we will not be issuing anything further.

This family have just lost their 13-year-old daughter as she innocently sat under the shade of a tree. As they attempt to deal with such a horrible sudden shock they learn that their daughter’s death had already been used by a national newspaper as a way to attack the teacher’s strike. How must they have felt? How could they even begin to understand how the Mail could print this?

As usual the absolute cowards working at the Mail gifted the byline to the ‘Daily Mail Reporter’ and the utterly supine Press Complaints Commission watch on, powerless to do a single thing about it.

Just a quick point

The Daily Mail (and Peter Hitchens) do like to drivel on about the ‘thought police’ and how apparently no-one is safe from them. Today the Mail has posted this story online: ‘The ‘coconut’ hate crime investigation that shows NOBODY can escape Britain’s Thought Police’. And again, the story does not relate to what someone thought, but rather on what someone actually said out loud and was recorded saying. It wasn’t a personal thought, it was a public comment that happened to be recorded.

Can the Daily Mail and Peter Hitchens please try to understand the vast difference between thinking something and saying something out loud. It really shouldn’t be difficult to tell the two apart: the thought is not heard by anyone, whereas when something is said out loud people can hear it (if you look at the person speaking you would normally expect to see their lips move).

Ignorance is a tabloid’s best friend

Take someone mildly well-known, add in some uneducated comments about climate change being a big scam and you have the perfect article for a tabloid newspaper. Open up the comments section and you have the perfect chance to let readers claim that said article is just another example of how the truth about climate change as a tax-raising con is finally being uncovered.

It’s kind of fitting that the Daily Mail is playing such an active role in the destruction of the planet really, kind of sums up the newspaper.

Anyway, here is the headline: ”We must stop pandering to climate scaremongers’: Ex-Civil Service chief blasts ministers for global warming ‘evangelism”. The article then gives this idiot a soapbox before finding time at the end to point out that he might just be talking an absolute pile of shite:

Dr Bob Ward, a climate change policy expert at the London School of Economics, said Lord Turnbull’s paper was ‘riddled with basic scientific errors’.

‘He misunderstands the science and the nature of risk,’ he said. ‘No one denies that there is uncertainty in the future impacts of climate change. But because the impacts are potentially so huge and economically damaging, if we wait until we are sure it will be too late to do anything about it.’

A quick glance at the best rated comments:

Funny, even our badly educated population can see that this is a massive tax raising scam. Yet the politicos and people who live in Brighton think it’s all for real !…. Little by little the scam is being exposed.

– Dan away from la merde, Brittany, 9/6/2011 6:28
Click to rate Rating 760

Here, here! At last someone’s talking sense. The only reason I can see that governments follow all this climate change claptrap is that it’s another way of extracting huge taxes out of their already over-taxed citizens.

– Judith, King’s Lynn, England, 9/6/2011 6:28
Click to rate Rating 672

At last – a common sense realistic approach to combat the beliefs of the global warming alarmists. Global temperatures have been rising and some of the increase is caused by rising levels of CO2 but be realistic about the causes since there is a mountain of evidence about the role of the of the sun, cosmic rays, clouds and oceans in climate the change debate – man made CO2 represents less than 0.1% of the total. It seems that global warming is the new religion and anyone who questions the causes is deemed a heretic. Scientists and the sheep who jump on the global warming bandwagon and deliberately mislead the public should be ashamed of themselves In the Sixties we were told of a population explosion that would lead to global starvation then we were warned the world was running out of natural resources. When global temperatures began to dip in the Seventies many eminent scientists warned that we faced a new Ice Age.

– Stingray, Durham, 9/6/2011 6:40
Click to rate Rating 549

climate change is a bit like the emperers new clothes, everybody who can profit from the doom theories climbs on board and squeals like a little pig whenever anyone dares to disagree. The simple fact is that we are merely the fleas on the back of this planet , yes we need to pollute less and breed less but that is for own good , our planet can merely shrug its shoulders and destroy thousands of us whenever it wants . One volcano can pollute the atmoshere more than we can in years in just a few minutes . Put climate change where it belongs and get a grip on the moneymaking chaos these policies have become

– kayerunrig, lincoln, 9/6/2011 5:59
Click to rate Rating 511

Slowly but surely the truth is coming out. Man-made global warming is a political scam devised to once again confuse and prey on the fears of the ordinary person who havent been given all the facts. It was setup as a mechanism to allow the funding of a global government (through taxation of ‘carbon’ in wealthy countries). They needed to do this so that everyone believed we were all doomed unless we did something about it and (crucially) willingly allowed the government to implement the taxes. Once again, the government has deliberately mis-led the masses for its own benefit – this is treasonous. The fact is, several hundred years ago, it was hotter than it is now, yet we survived…. Amazing how people dont even see truth when its right in front of them. Its all a scam – wake up sheeple, WAKE UP!

– Alan, Geneva, 9/6/2011 5:55
Click to rate Rating 480

The voice in the wilderness but like all pariahs he is doomed to be ignored. The climate industry is as artificial as its arguments but it does make money and no scientist interested in a career and funding can afford to state anything that challenges the current charlatan orthodoxy so readily embraced by governments and their lickspittles. I have yet to read of any valid theory supported by evidence man has contributed to climate change. The chief difficulty being no one as yet can quantify a world temperature average with which to compare findings.

– robin, horsham UK, 9/6/2011 6:23
Click to rate Rating 424

This really isn’t helping my fragile state of mind.

Littlejohn on trusting ‘sources’

Richard Littlejohn – fresh from rescuing the rape debate last week – has now decided to discuss the perils of trusting unreliable sources of information. The problems with sites like Twitter, Richard argues, is that:

everything which appears on so-called social networking sites is either wrong or motivated by malice.

So I take any information I read on the internet with a malt shovel full of salt, unless it comes from a trusted source.

The man whose entire process of ‘research’ involves reading the Mail and browsing the Mail website is now supposedly concerned about the quality of his ‘sources’. It is worth remembering that this is the guy who trusts any dubious stories his readers email to him and once reported on a large set of babies with odd names that turned out to be Labrador puppies. Richard Littlejohn’s entire output is both wrong and motivated by malice.

He really doesn’t understand irony or hypocrisy. Still, the point of his column is that it isn’t fair that people on the Internet can say stuff when newspapers cannot:

Why should traditional newspapers be subject to gagging orders which can’t be enforced against global online sites?

During the height of the whingeing from the Mail over the gagging orders they published this article (by the Mail on Sunday Reporter no less) on Anthea Turner: ‘Crikey, Anthea! This Perfect Housewife lark looks hard work: Miss Turner sweats as she keeps £5m home – and herself – in good shape’ [istyosty.com link]. This was an article based entirely around three long-lens photos taken over the fence of Anthea Turner’s property that reveal her putting some bins out and generally doing some stuff in her garden. The Mail has invaded someone’s privacy just to reveal that they perform the sort of mundane tasks that the rest of us have to.

The whole tabloid business model is built around this invasive drivel, yet the same newspapers argue that freedom of speech and publication is vital to a healthy press. An article on Anthea Turner doing stuff in her garden.

A whole article on Anthea Turner doing stuff in her garden.

And this isn’t the exception, it’s the norm. This is what our mainstream media has come to: a never-ending torrent of absolutely mindless drivel.