Daily Mirror falsely claim Liverpool fan ‘arrested on suspicion for racial abuse’

The Daily Mirror have reported that Liverpool FC have been ‘hit by new racism row‘ and more specifically that:

a fan was arrested on suspicion of racially abusing Oldham player Tom Adeyemi…

Eyewitnesses saw two fans wearing Luis Suarez t-shirts, and heard one of them clearly shout “You f***ing black b*****d.”

Police immediately moved in to restrain the two suspects, and later confirmed arrests had been made.

However, the Guardian allegedly also reported that arrests had been made – only to remove all references to arrests shortly afterwards. Furthermore, BBC Sports Correspondent Dan Roan has tweeted that:

LFC & M’side Police say they are investigating “an incident” that occurred in the 2nd half v Oldham “to establish details of what happened” …but police “can confirm no one has been arrested on suspicion of racially aggravated behaviour during the match at Anfield”.

Once again Twitter is full of many different reports from many different sources. Whilst the Daily Mirror that eyewitnesses clearly heard racial abuse, Twitter users claiming to have been at the match and witnessing the incident deny that any racial abuse. Indeed, the BBC’s Nick Parrott was at the game and tweeted:

No fan was ejected following Adeyemi incident. I spoke to fans nearby who claim “Manc bastard” was the only thing shouted.

He was then able to confirm:

No #LFC fans were arrested on Kop tonight. Three were ejected, but this was unrelated to the #Adeyemi incident. I was there & spoke to cops

Before addressing the false claims in the Mirror he also commented that:

There were black and Asian fans near the fan who hurled abuse at #Adeyemi, I didn’t see them react to the fan. #LFC stewards didn’t react

What is clear is that the sheer speed at which information travels through social networks can both clarify and confuse situations. The Mirror clearly jumped at the initial incident, without first checking if any reliable sources could shed more light on the matter. Clearly a BBC reporter at the game should be considered a reliable source – and it seems according to those tweeting about the incident that the Guardian certainly corrected their article pretty quickly. It remains to be seen how long the Daily Mirror will take to correct its article – especially now that Merseyside Police have confirmed via Twitter that no arrests have been made – but an investigation into an incident is taking place.

Waking-up to the real state of our tabloid press

It is a huge story. The allegations that the News of the World hacked into Milly Dowler’s phone and not only listened to the messages but also deleted some of them to free-up space for new messages which, according to the Guardian, led to:

friends and relatives of Milly concluded wrongly that she might still be alive…

The Dowler family then granted an exclusive interview to the News of the World in which they talked about their hope, quite unaware that it had been falsely kindled by the newspaper’s own intervention.

For many people these allegations are genuinely shocking and many people across the UK and beyond are asking the question: ‘how could they do this?’

However, the real question should be: ‘how are so many people unaware that this isn’t an isolated incident of morally bankrupt journalism, but the norm?’

I’m pleased that people are sitting up and taking notice. I’m pleased that Ford are boycotting advertising with the News of the World and that other big companies are considering doing the same. But I also wonder as to why it has taken so long for public perception and big corporations to draw a line between what is merely accepted as bad journalism and what causes public outrage as being completely unacceptable journalism.

For instance, in September last year YouGov published a poll titled ‘Who do you trust?’ which was covered by Tabloid Watch at the time but failed to gain any significant mainstream coverage. The poll revealed that journalists on ‘mid-market’ newspapers (Mail, Express) only had the total trust of just 21% of the people surveyed (down from 36% in 2003); whilst 71% claimed to have not much/no trust in them. It was even worse for the journalists on ‘red-top tabloid’ newspapers who only had the total trust of just 10% of the people surveyed (down from 14% in 2003); whilst 83% claimed to have not much/no trust in them.

We appear to be in a situation in which the majority of newspaper consumers accept without protest that what they read each day is not or cannot to be trusted. Trust or truth in journalism does not appear to be significant in raising public levels of outrage against newspapers, nor in itself is the invasion of privacy. The general public don’t seem to be concerned with the phone hacking of celebrities or prominent politicians, but they are outraged at the alleged hacking of Milly Dowler’s phone (and the fresh allegations that the families of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman may have been targeted as well).

This, I think, is part of the problem. As consumers we can’t afford to be selectively outraged by an illegal technique depending on who it targets. We can’t keep buying newspapers or logging onto newspaper websites to lap up highly invasive articles / images of celebrities that were obtained through phone-hacking or aggressive journalism that borders on stalking, but then turn around and act shocked that they use the same techniques when dealing with bereaved families or missing 13-year-old girls. If any lesson can be taken away from studying the press it is that they cannot be trusted to regulate their own behaviour and the tools that once may have been used for legitimate investigative journalism are now just as likely to be turned on any unlucky individual who finds his or herself in their spotlight.

I can’t help but feel that the general public should have been outraged an awful long time ago – and not just about individual cases of press abuse, but the general expectations we all have when we pick up any paper. For example, how is it that we live in a society where we feel it is acceptable to routinely not trust what we read in newspapers? Why do even seasoned, loyal newspaper readers always feel the need to inform you – with a knowing nod – if you question their choice of newspaper that you shouldn’t worry about them because they take it all with a pinch of salt?

The Milly Dowler story – and the fresh allegations that will be breaking from now on – should be the catalyst that finally awakens the realisation that our press is no longer fit for purpose – and hasn’t been for an awful long time. This isn’t just the concern of media bloggers or the Guardian, it is the concern of all of us who care about the society we live in and the huge impact that media narratives have on influencing our daily interactions with those around us. Any one of us could be the next Christopher Jefferies, who has had to resort to the courts to pursue some form of redress for the smears he suffered for a crime of which he was found entirely innocent. As BBC Legal correspondent Clive Coleman points out:

It’s an indication of the significance of these contempt proceedings that the Attorney General Dominic Grieve QC has appeared in person to outline the case in front of the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge.

Mr Grieve described the material published about Christopher Jefferies as being so exceptional and memorable in its impact as to risk prejudicing and impeding a fair trial.

He pointed in particular to suggestions that Mr Jefferies was a sexually perverted voyeur, that he had possibly been involved in a previous murder and that he was a close friend of a known paedophile.

For what it’s worth, the ‘Sun and Daily Mirror dispute Mr Grieve’s claims, and deny contempt’.

What should not be forgotten in all of this is that it is easy to humanise and sympathise with the victims of this latest alleged hacking. Whilst the majority might – and seemingly do – generally accept the hacking of politicians and celebrities for whatever dubious justification of misunderstood public interest, almost everyone seems to draw the line when the victim is a 13-year-old girl and her family. However, we must also face up to our responsibility to stand up and be counted not just when the victims are easily identifiable and real to us, but also when the victims are a much larger group who – although we cannot instantly identify with in the same way that we can do when we have names, ages, photos and context – are no less deserving of our collective outrage, action and support.

For example any Muslim or perceived Muslim who has suffered racial abuse or other actions as a result of a systematic smear campaign conducted by a range of newspapers. I don’t recall politicians calling for press reform when Radio 4’s excellent Face the Facts program so searingly covered Islamophobia in the media and the consequences for its victims. According to Roy Greenslade, Lord Rothermere – chairman of the Daily Mail & General Trust – was ‘appalled’ at the Milly Dowler hacking allegations and he felt compelled to make sure the Daily Mail doesn’t use hacking in its journalism. Apparently Paul Dacre – Daily Mail editor-in-chief – answered that (according to Greenslade) ‘the Mail has never done anything so disgusting’.

Although it is noticeable that the lawyers of Associated Newspapers haven’t contacted the New Statesman over the allegations made in a Hugh Grant article in which he bugs former News of the World executive Paul McMullan. Grant recorded McMullan claim that the Mail did use stories based on hacking:

For about four or five years they’ve absolutely been cleaner than clean. And before that they weren’t. They were as dirty as anyone . . . They had the most money.

Paul Dacre became editor in 1992. Who knows, perhaps all editors just do not know what their journalists get up to.

The important point is that Lord Rothermere sat idly by whilst Littlejohn attacked dead women and the rest of the Mail’s journalists go after just about every form of minority using a variety of lies to stir up racial and religious hatred in much the same way as the general public has.

Do we really value 13-year-old girls more than any other human beings? If we don’t then it’s about time we got a lot angrier about an awful lot more and we finally make it absolutely clear that the behaviour of our press is completely unacceptable. This means we boycott them, en masse, whilst pursuing the dissolution of the Press Complaints Comission and the formation of a proper regulator in the mould of Ofcom.

Lazy*

From the excellent Football365 Mediawatch page today:

Lazy? Part One
You may have spotted a story doing the rounds about some betting shenanigans in the Newcastle v Arsenal game that seems to have originated from a French TV station.

Several news outlets picked it up, but many pooh-poohed it. Such as The Daily Mirror’s John Cross, who Tweeted this morning:

‘Twitter fueled (sic) a story last night which I believe is false. Wonder if Tweeters who go on about lazy journalism bothered to check it first.’

Well, as it turns out, these Tweeters didn’t have to go far in order to ‘check it first’. As far as The Daily Mirror website, in fact, who report:

‘Interpol is allegedly investigating claims that Saturday’s dramatic 4-4 draw between Newcastle and Arsenal was rigged.’

Lazy indeed.

Lazy? Part Two
And speaking of Mr Cross – he was in charge of The Daily Mirror’s Chelsea v Liverpool player ratings

About John Obi Mikel he wrote: ‘Sloppy in possession, did nothing going forward and constantly gave the ball away.’

According to Opta, Mikel attempted 55 passes in his 71 minutes on the pitch – 52 of which reached their destination. That’s a pass completion rate of 95%.

So to take each of Cross’s three criticisms in order – not true, that’s not his job, and not true. Other than that, all valid stuff.

Who were you saying was lazy, old chap?


I am aware that I am also lazy for the quick copy and paste effort.

Plugging

From the excellent Football365’s Mediawatch today:

Mediawatch was slightly confused about an interview with Tony Mowbray in The Daily Mirror this morning.

Interviews don’t usually start with a discussion of the subject’s literary habits, but this particular article kicks off thusly:

‘Tony Mowbray patted the book on his desk and said: “I used to have a dog called Shankly for 13 years, beautiful golden lab.” Boro’s manager is seeking inspiration, while warning hard times at Middlesbrough could get worse before they get better.

‘”I’m reading about Bill Shankly and Alex Ferguson,” he says. “Heroes of mine. Working class roots, dug from the same coal pit, those two. Managers for the people.”

‘The title of the tome is: “If You’re Second, You are Nothing,” but Mowbray would probably love to contemplate such a lofty position.’

Odd that a book is given such a prominent plug in a national newspaper.

Not so odd, however, when you learn the author of said book is one Oliver Holt, chief sports writer for The Daily Mirror.

‘Live’ Grenades

A classic piece of tabloid rubbish has been floating around today: ‘Don’t panic! Props for Dad’s Army play were live grenades‘ (Daily Mail); ‘Dad’s Army props were live grenades‘ (Daily Mirror) and ‘DON’T PANIC! OUR DAD’S ARMY PROPS ARE LIVE GRENADES‘ (Daily Express).

As soon as I saw this story I thought what a huge amount of free publicity this production has received, and I had a nagging feeling that it was a set up. The original story does make it clear that the actors did suspect that the grenades were live and did call the army. However, as the original article makes clear, although a controlled detination was carried out the grenades turned out to not be live and actually survived the explosion intact. Nonetheless the original article still uses a misleading headline: ‘‘Corporal Jones’ actor doesn’t panic after finding live grenades’.

The Express, Mirror and Daily Mail do not mention at any point that the grenades were found to not be live and the Express and Daily Mail both contain the exact sentence:

The devices – both dating from 1918 – were detonated in a controlled explosion which was heard for miles around.

One wonders whether this group of actors planned this story or just got extremely lucky. Either way, they got a huge amount of free publicity from journalists who just don’t care about factual accuracy – because as far as they are concerned: if the grenades were not live, then there wouldn’t be any story.

Did a Chinese Woman Really Stamp on a baby?

A reader has been in touch with another story that has appeared in a few newspapers today (Daily Mail, The Mirror and the Metro) about a suspected female thief who for some reason became enraged enough at being challenged to throw her child on the floor and stamp on it, in full view of a group of people who either stood around and did nothing or just took two photos.

The Daily Mail includes these two photos:

Zoomed in on the 'stamp'
After the 'stamp'

Notice how the child looks identical in each – same facial expression, arms in exactly the same position and identical shadow. Judging by the way everybody is stood around ignoring the baby, I would suggest this is a photoshop job, or a doll – unless these newspapers are seriously suggesting that ‘foreigners’ are so evil they just stand, a few inches away from a screaming child lying on the road after being thrown and stamped on and do nothing. I certainly think this is a made-up story, although Google hasn’t helped me find anything concrete. Well, more concrete than a child that has been thrown on the floor, stamped on, yet appears unharmed and according to all three press reports: ‘Miraculously, the baby escaped uninjured.’

I am pretty confident that I have conducted more research into the veracity of this story than any of the newspapers did, and I’m sure someone with a sharper eye and more experience in faked images could probably point out some faults here and tell-tale giveaways.


Update

This story is currently the top editor’s pick on the Mail website:

Chinese mum 'stamps' on baby
What a load of absolute rubbish

So, in this age of reason does the fact the child sustained no injuries, despite being ‘thrown’ and ‘stamped’ on, suggest:

a) the event clearly did not happen, or
b) a miracle has happened.

Clearly, the journalists at the Mail have chosen option b, for some good old-fashioned evidence free hysteria.

Update 2

A reader (who wishes to remain anonymous) has emailed me with details of a website that attempts to demonstrate whether an image has been altered. Read about how the technique works here, and view image 1 here and image 2 here. I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions, I think the results suggest the image could be worth further investigation and it certainly doesn’t do anything to alter my opinion that this story is complete rubbish.

For those of you reading this story and thinking that they couldn’t possibly make up a story like this, I’ll just remind you about this Express front page:

Which turned out to be completely made up.