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.

Richard Littlejohn: ‘no excuse’ for ‘lazy, biased reporting’

Richard Littlejohn – unsurprisingly – has no sympathy for the ‘self-pitying grumbles of the “victims”‘ of the government cuts. He identifies the ‘victims’ as:

from bone-idle Welsh benefit bandits who can’t be bothered to catch a bus five miles to get a job, to middle-class teaching assistants complaining that the ‘cuts’ will mean they’ll have to forego one of their foreign holidays next year.

The Welsh reference seems to be made about what I overheard being repeated on Radio 4 this morning, the unemployed residents of Merthyr Tydfil – along with Blaenau Gwent it has the highest level of benefits reliance in the UK – could get a bus to Cardiff where there are jobs. The thing is, the distance is 20 miles not 5, which Richard would have known had he done even the slightest bit of checking.

The next point is really offensive, attacking those notoriously overpaid and under-worked ‘middle-class’ teaching assistants. Firstly, the term middle-class does not mean middle-earner when the Daily Mail uses it. In the past they have claimed that the ‘middle class’ was being slammed based on a single-parent family with one salary of £50,000 per annum. Yet the true average wage in the UK is just £26,020, whilst the median gross annual earnings are even less at £20,801 – this is the salary point at which half of the country earns more than you and half less.

So, presumably Richard wants to imply that teaching assistants earn huge salaries and that the ‘cuts’ (which he refers to in inverted commas as if they are some kind of invention for fuck’s sake) might only affect their ability to have a second foreign holiday! These bloody teaching assistants! The thing is the average salary for teaching assistants is actually around £15,153, they are poorly paid and often limited to term-time only contracts – meaning their actual salary is far less than this. Richard Littlejohn as ever revels in bullying the poor from the luxury of his Florida mansion paid for by writing not even two columns a week in which he recycles stories he has read in the Mail.

In a final, astonishingly hypocritical insult he then declares that the cuts are not actually bad at all, its just a media invention:

This sense of grievance is fed by the broadcast media with its endless stage-managed, vested-interest ‘case studies’ intended to terrify the ‘most vulnerable in society’.

I’ve worked in TV and know how ­difficult it is to fill half an hour, let alone a voracious 24-hour news ­channel. But that’s no excuse for some of the lazy, biased reporting.

There is ‘no excuse’ for ‘lazy, biased reporting’? Then do the decent thing and resign Richard. To think that I was actually starting to feel sorry for this clueless, inhuman piece of shit.