Top quality science journalism from the Daily Mail

The Mediablog has a theory that the Daily Mail website is becoming more purposefully offensive in order to attract more visits. They suggested that after the 21% rise in website traffic after Jan Moir’s Stephen Gately article the Daily Mail realised that a visitor is a visitor, no matter whether they despise your output or not. It’s the sort of theory that seems convincing given the ludicrous way the Mail website reports straightforward stories, as if they’re playing up to their reputation for being a big joke. Someone, somewhere in the Mail website team is checking headlines and making sure they are stupid enough to attract Internet users to post links along the lines of ‘WTF?! have you seen this on the Mail website?’.

And look, this article on ‘pressure-sensitive electronic skin which could one day be used to restore touch to patients who have prosthetic limbs’ has me biting just like they want with the way it is reported: ‘Age of Terminators comes a step closer as scientists invent ‘e-skin’ that could give robots a sense of touch‘. To add weight to my theory the original headline (shown in the URL) was actually reporting the news: Scientists-invent-e-skin-sense-touch-patients-artificial-limbs.html; but then someone realised that a sensible headline just would not do and changed it.

As if the headline wasn’t stupid enough they follow it up with the following picture and caption:

Just like the Terminator

The article seems to be trying to shoe-horn in as many film references as possible – along with a pretty awful spelling mistake:

More sinister, however, is the prospect of the invention lending robots the ability to adapt the amount of roce needed to hold and manipulate objects.

The nanowires are incredibly thin structures, more than 10,000 times thinner than a single human hair.

They open up the possibility for a robot to be able to hold an egg by judging how delicate it is.

But in true Terminator style, robots would for once know their own strength – which the hero of those movies, John Connor, would presumably see as bad news.

But the worst thing of all, the thing that is truly appalling and utterly baffling: people buy this shit everyday. People actually think that the Daily Mail is a newspaper.

Daily Mail Dosing

The repitition of writing about Daily Mail ‘journalism’ makes me realise that I so often start a post in exactly the same way. I always seem to start with the old cliche that just when you think they could not get any worse, they do. However, this is not done for effect, it is written because I genuinely despair at how the Daily Mail manages to sink lower almost every time I happen to visit their website. The story that has me shaking my head with frustration is this: ‘I-Dosing: How teenagers are getting ‘digitally high’ from music they download from internet‘.

This story – written by Daniel Bates* – is currently selected as one of the editor’s ‘six of the best’ and is trying to convince readers that teenagers are listening to music designed to replicate the effects of popular drugs.

Seriously. This is not a joke:

They put on their headphones, drape a hood over their head and drift off into the world of ‘digital highs’.

Videos posted on YouTube show a young girl freaking out and leaping up in fear, a teenager shaking violently and a young boy in extreme distress.

This is the world of ‘i-Dosing’, the new craze sweeping the internet in which teenagers used so-called ‘digital drugs’ to change their brains in the same way as real-life narcotics.

They believe the repetitive drone-like music will give them a ‘high’ that takes them out of reality, only legally available and downloadable on the Internet.

The craze has so far been popular among teenagers in the U.S. but given how easily available the videos are, it is just a matter of time before it catches on in Britain.

It always amuses when you read a story on the Daily Mail website that warns you that the Internet is evil and will give you cancer and allows your CHILDREN to download music that works JUST LIKE DRUGS, because the Daily Mail website is a drug. Thousands of people visit it every day to get their dose of outrage, to post angry comments over made-up stories about ‘elf n safety’ or the PC brigade or pathetic stories about the dangers of Facebook.

Some visitors (or ‘users’) – like myself do suffer violent shaking and extreme distress. Here I would like to start the next Internet craze to see whether the Daily Mail will report it: film yourself visiting the Daily Mail website and show your distress, violent shaking, vomiting and rage that is induced just by scrolling down the homepage and put it on Youtube. If enough of us did that then we’d soon forget about the I-dosing worries and start worrying about a real Internet menace.

Seriously, when I have some time I will be doing this video and encourage anyone with a camcorder and a sense of humour to do likewise. If anyone is good with make-up / theatrics then you can make your eyes bleed for the camera as you are filmed scrolling down the screen. It would be fantastic.

* I am trying to name and shame ‘journalists’ as much as possible.

This is not journalism

Reporting what you are told by one person without any research or critical questioning  just because you like what they are saying is not journalism.  Yet it is happening more and more frequently in the Daily Mail who are now demonstrating that they will print anything – no matter how incredulous – as long as it supports their core narratives. Take this story currently enjoying a lot of exposure – and a great deal of outraged comments on the Daily Mail website: ‘‘£500-a-week? I can earn more on benefits!’, unemployed driver tells stunned haulage boss‘.

The whole article is based entirely on the account of one man – Graham Poole, managing director of a small haulage firm – who claims that:

[he] was left stunned after an unemployed driver rejected the offer of a job paying more than £500 a week so he could remain on benefits…

Furious Mr Poole said: ‘What is wrong with this country. I was offering him more than £500 a week before tax.

‘It is no wonder that so many people are out of work when others are allowed to blatantly refuse to work because their benefits are higher’

Reporting Graham Poole’s assertions as if they are absolute fact is not journalism. We have no evidence that this interview ever took place or that this person – if they exist – is better off on benefits. Yet the Daily Mail is happy to use this account – which is essentially gossip – as evidence for their general narrative that benefits are so generous that they are worth more than £500 a week.

Obviously they get some help from a couple of rentaquotes. First up is the Small Business Federation, who rather than act as a serious organisation and refuse to comment on one man’s story, they actually have grave concerns:

‘With unemployment so high and full-time jobs so hard to come by, there is clearly too much dependency on the benefits system if people can turn down well paid, full-time work.

‘The FSB welcomes coalition government proposals to extend the time that benefits can be cut for people who turn down a full-time position from six months to three years.’

Then there is the obvious quotations from the Taxpayers Alliance, who are naturally outraged:

‘This case shows how desperately the welfare system in this country needs to be reformed as there are currently people trapped on benefits.

‘Taxpayers will be angry that they are going out to work, while others are getting just as much money without taking a job.

‘The government needs to make it pay for people to go out and work.

‘People should be better off if they have a job than if they stay at home on benefits.’

Writing this blog for well over a year now and I’ve seen some horrifically poor journalism – manipulated statistics, pure inventions about Muslims, health and safety, political correctness, swine flu and of course the huge amount of pure unverified churnalism that makes up the bulk of the content – but this just feels as low as it can get for Daily Mail journalism. This is just taking someone’s word for it, purely because they are saying the right thing.

I know this is not the first story of its kind – we all know the invented story about the tale of a mum who had claimed her son was ordered off a bus, apparently by a ‘Polish or East European’ driver, because he was wearing an ‘offensive’ England shirt. But it does seem to be a bit of an evolution of the way this journalism is carried out, the lesson from the Polish bus driver story was in order for this kind of story to be effective it must not involve an organisation that can check facts and defend itself – which led to the debunking of the Polish bus driver story. Instead it must only involve the word of someone who cannot be fact-checked – like, for example the managing director of a small haulage firm who just happens to get his company name and truck into the paper for moaning about benefits scroungers.

I’m not saying this story is not true, I’m just saying that there is no possible way to verify that it is or isn’t; in which case it should not be printed. I know I’m repeating myself, but it is worth saying over and over again: this is not journalism. Not even close.


Not content with publishing Richard Littlejohn’s column criticising the innapropriate use of ‘Mister’ Derrick Bird and the implication that Political Correctness played some kind of role in the Cumbria shootings, today they wheel out a pretty standard attack on health and safety: ‘Health and safety rules stopped paramedics treating the injured‘.

As I pointed out last night, whatever course any person or organisation takes the Daily Mail will happily criticise them. This ‘story’ centres around the fact that Police held back Ambulance crews until armed police had secured the areas around the wounded. This attempt to prevent putting paramedics in the line of fire is dubiously understated as ‘fears over health and safety’, not ‘fears of putting paramedics at serious risk of being shot and killed’.

One can only imagine if paramedics were allowed or told to rush to each scene and one of them or more had been shot and killed that the Daily Mail would be asking for heads to roll and would have no doubt denounced the order as ‘crazy’. After all, the Daily Mail scream ‘nanny state’ when social services intervene, whilst simultaneously screaming ‘why wasn’t something done?’ when social services do not intervene.

This is a pathetic attack on health and safety from a newspaper that has absolutely no shame, using the death of 12 people to push its own distorted media narratives.

You Know You’re Bad When…

Bill Akass, managing Editor of the News of the World, today confirmed on Radio 4 that he turned down the Lord Triesman sting because:

We were not satisfied that it was justified and we felt the information was thin.

It didn’t meet the tests which we set ourselves for justification…

Is it in the public interest? Are we operating within the law? Are we operating within the PCC code, which says that use of subterfuge can only be used in the public interest when the material cannot be obtained by any other means?… Do we have credible information to suggest that this person is already engaged in these activities?

This is from the paper that was recently criticised by a Judge for setting-up John Terry’s dad, as reported by Tabloid Watch the judge commented:

“It is a very, very clear case of entrapment solely to create a newspaper story…

“The facts in this case are highly unusual. In fact the offence was actually created by the actions of the newspaper sending a journalist to set you up. It is clearly an entrapment case and the only reason they did this was to create a story because of your connections to a well known footballer.”

It also has had to apologise in the last few days about completely making-up a story about Peter Sutcliffe. Not to mention – as today’s F365 Mediawatch column takes great delight in doing – that this:

is also the paper that, in the latest edition alone, decided that a soap star allegedly cheating on his girlfriend, some nonsense about Jordan and that boxer fella, and Cristiano Ronaldo doing rude things with an underwear model were all in the public interest.

That this pathetic excuse for a newspaper decides a story is ‘not justified’ and ‘thin’ you just know something must be very wrong with it. However, as we all know: the Mail on Sunday were happy to run it.

Mail Lionises Utter Turd

Over the weekend The Daily Mail had a double-page spread entitled, “A Breath of fresh air” about the wonders of Doncaster’s new “superMayor”, Peter Davies. Alarm bells started to ring at this, because that’s a name I recognised instantly: It’s the chap who made such a tit of himself on Radio Sheffield not too long ago!

The Mail starts with a few vague, populist facts about Mr Davies. He has a “contempt for diversity”. He’s “gloriously un-PC”. He’s a “keen devotee of the birch and the noose“. Of course, in the real world, this translates as narrow-minded, intolerant, and authoritarian, but in the Mail they’re treated as the greatest of virtues.

But let’s take a closer look at some of the claims the Mail makes for their new hero.

Firstly, he’s said to be “deeply sceptical of green claptrap”, and promises to put an end to bus-only routes in an attempt to get more traffic on his roads. He states proudly, “we live in the age of the car”. And, I suppose, when one doesn’t believe in the harmful effects of Co2 or global warming, there’s no reason not to encourage traffic congestion.

Next is the claim I hope to rip apart most thoroughly. “He has scrapped all future funding for Doncaster’s annual Gay Pride event”, Mail writer Robert Hardman happily expounds. Now, fortunately, I don’t have to do much of the initial ripping-apart here; in his interview with Radio Sheffield, which I linked to above, comedian Toby Foster does it for me. The bit I’m talking about is a little far in (about 5 mins in, I think), so I’ll give the glorious transcript;

Toby Foster: “You’re gonna cut the Gay Pride funding?”

Peter Davies: “Yup”.

TF: “Erm… how much does Doncaster council fund Gay Pride?”

PD: “Haven’t got a clue, haven’t looked into it, haven’t got the details, haven’t even started”.

TF: “Right… so how much was it worth Doncaster?”

PD: “How… how much… what?”

TF: “Gay Pride march. Eight thousand people in town for a day”.

PD: “…I dunno, they can still come, nobody’s stopping them coming…”

TF: “So you don’t know what it costs, don’t know what it earns, but you’re bangin’ it”.

PD: “…I’m saying… that hard-pressed taxpayer’s money should not be spent on promoting any type of sexuality, whether it’s straight or gay”.

TF: “But… but for all you know, it could be making a fortune for the town, you don’t know, you haven’t looked into it”.

PD: “Well… it may, or it may not”.

I think we can safely say that eight thousand people in town for a day, if Toby Foster’s guestimation is accurate, are worth a great deal to Doncaster. What rounds off the hilarity is that, once the new mayor actually did get hold of the details… he did a U-turn. He decided to fund the events he said he wouldn’t. Not only does that piss all over his manifesto (and the claims the Daily Mail made in his favour), but it also suggests that Toby Foster was probably right on the money when he said that the march was worth more than it cost.

By the way, the man made similar promises about getting rid of International Women’s Day and Black History Day. I expect he’ll face similar barriers (eg, logic) with them.

Anyway, I’ve dwelled on that for long enough. There’s another claim the Daily Heil makes for the new mayor that needs some mauling. And that’s about his promise to ban council translation services, on the basis that people should be encouraged to speak English (for ‘encouraged’, see ‘forced’). The problem with this pledge is a simple one: it is downright illegal, under the European Court of Human Rights, as Foster points out. But that’s ignoring the questionable logic of encouraging people to learn a new language by withdrawing their access to translation services.

Finally, we come to Robert Hardman’s claim that Mr Davies has the support of “around a third of the town”, according to a random street survey. “A further third are in the wait-and-see camp, and the remaining third have no idea what I am talking about. No one, though, is anti-Davies”, states Hardman. This is dubious from the start, considering Davies’ attempt to scrap celebrations that are in any way linked to gay, black or female people. Taking a quick look on Facebook, the biggest pro-Davies group features just over 370 members, whereas the group entitled “protest against Doncaster’s new mayor Peter Davies: What have we done?” has 1,380. I’d like to see the source of statistics the Mail has used in its research in Doncaster.

Altogether, the Mail has here managed to lionise a man on the basis of impossible, illegal policies, a cash-saving plan that costs more than it saves, and a manifesto he has already reneged on. The Mail seems desperate for heroes, to say the least.

“Killed by a tawdry dream”

Obsession with WAGs led to the murder of a young lady, says the Daily Mail.

Amy Barnes, the young model recently murdered by her ex-boyfriend, was in fact “killed by a tawdry dream”. It’s the Daily Mail‘s latest verdict, according to an article by Paul Bracchi.

How the obsession to become a WAG“, the headline goes, “led this beautiful girl into the arms of a violent psychopath“, with the conclusion that “had she not been sucked into the tawdry world of nightclubs and footballers – she would probably have never met [her killer Ricardo Morrison]”.

Sure enough, according to our Mail churno, Amy Barnes’ Facebook memorial page is “the subplot to this tragedy”, as it contains a flurry of pictures of girls -including Amy- in revealing outfits, cleavages, panties and stilettos. So disgraceful are those Facebook pictures that the Daily Mail decides you too should have a look at them, including one of the victim sucking a lollypop. “Sucked into the lifestyle” is the accompanying caption.

Then Bracchi goes on with his portrayal of Amy’s world, “where nightclubs, glamour modelling and the ultimate prize – ‘bagging’ a footballer – are a full-time career for many girls; like getting a normal job would be for most other people”. “You might call such girls the Hollyoaks Generation” Bracchi adds, “Off screen, the cast of the Channel 4 soap – ‘about babes and boys’ – are forever stripping off to their underwear for calendar shoots”.

So what may this cruel, cheap and “tawdry” world look like? Who exactly is behind this increasing obsession with the lifestyle of the rich and the famous?

It may be that Bracchi doesn’t read the paper he works for, because the number of stories glamourising WAGs shopping about town, displaying scantily clad models in the company of Premier League stars as well as pictures of glitzy Footballer’s Wives-style parties is just unbelievable.

It really is that blatant. In fact, right next to Paul Bracchi’s article online, there is a picture of Eastenders star Kara Tointon (sister of Hollyoaks actress Hannah) “showing off her curves as a lingerie model”.

Scroll down one bit and there’s Victoria Beckham seen “in ripped denim hotpants and tiny vest”, further down Boris Becker’s new model wife as well as Cheryl Cole at the X Factor auditions.

Or simply google the words ‘Daily Mail WAGs‘ and you’ll be presented with full pictorial reports of Chelsea star Joe Cole’s wedding, Frank Lampard’s ex in a plunging red jumpsuit as she enjoys “England WAGs social circle”, or the “England WAG’s weeny bikini brigade“.

It is truly a tawdry, tawdry world those young girls are drawn to.

This article originally appeared on Hagley Road to Ladywood.