Facebook puts vulnerable children at risk of depression, warn doctors‘ [istyosty link]. From the article:

‘A lot of what’s happening is actually very healthy, but it can go too far,’ [Dr Megan Moreno] said…

Parents shouldn’t get the idea that using Facebook ‘is going to somehow infect their kids with depression,’ she said.

Too late, if people actually believe what they read on the Mail Online website.

In other news: ‘Isn’t it a bit early for that? Britney Spears films free concert for Good Morning America (and what a raunchy wake-up call it will be)‘ [istyosty link, has to be seen to be believed]. The article sees fit to demonstrate just how raunchy the routine is by accompanying it with 21 photos and 2 Youtube videos. This really is anti-journalism in action.

The Family Paper

I don’t think this screengrab needs much of an introduction because it’s become so typical of what you can expect to find on the wall of flesh that makes up the Mail Online ‘Femail’ section:

The question in particular is a very unsavoury reminder of the recent Mail coverage [link takes you to No Sleep ‘Til Brooklands excellent post on the subject] of the gang-rape of two twelve-year-old girls and the sympathy given to the perpetrators because it was implied that they couldn’t tell the real age of the girls and believed them to be sixteen. I really do wonder if the person responsible for asking it could provide any logical justification for putting it under the headline?

It also needs to be asked how such Mailbait coverage – which clearly seems to be aimed at men – can justifiably be put into the Femail section of the website?

You know why

Today’s Daily Mail front page features a big plug for the Daily Mail ‘Femail’ section and asks the question:

Click to enlarge

Penny Smith’s article tried to look at the reasons why women might feel this way and she identifies:

  1. Fairy stories
  2. Dolls – specifically Barbie
  3. Playground pressure
  4. Boys – who have posters of glamorous women on their walls

No mention of the role that the media plays, or that the worst culprit is the newspaper that is publishing this article. Worse, Penny Smith at one point looks at the difference between how men perceive their own bodies or image and quotes Nick Ferrari who claims that men look in the mirror and see themselves as fantastic because:

It’s our defence mechanism… we are bullied by the women in our lives, and told that we’re useless at everything from putting up shelves to making a souffle rise – and likewise in the bedroom…

Penny Smith then pretty much wipes out any remaining credibility by admitting:

Even if said in jest, I suspect he’s right.

I’m always amazed at the queue of women ready to write misogynistic drivel in the Mail. Here is a section of the Daily Mail aimed at women and the best it can come up with is this stereotypical tripe. In an article about why 97% of women have at least one ‘I hate my body’ moment every day the writer still manages to admit that men are only different because women bully them so much that they have become delusional as a defence mechanism.

To complete the hypocrisy you only have to turn to page 3 of today’s Daily Mail and look at the pictures of Kate Moss – who at 37 has a body most women would be ecstatic with – but the Daily Mail can easily find fault with her. For starters the Mail prints a big picture of her bottom accompanied with a caption that mocks the small lines visible in the picture. As if that wasn’t enough they also include a paparazzi photo showing what she looks like without make-up – described as the ‘bare reality’.

Click to enlarge

It’s no secret that the Daily Mail really hates women, so I wonder why every few months they feel obliged to ask why women hate they way they look. When a supermodel is slaughtered on page 3 you can see why the average women finds it so easy to pick faults with their body.

To churn, or not to churn

Earlier in the week Ginsters – famous for pasties and pies – decided to get some cheap advertising by conducting a poll using that they knew would appeal to the Churnalists out there. Naturally the poll is referred to in sombre tomes as a ‘study’ and it just happens to confirm the sort of misogynistic drivel that makes your average tabloid editor very happy:

Three quarters of all important household decisions are made by women, a study found yesterday.

I won’t bother you with any further details – it’s just a typical poll ‘finding’ that ‘confirms’ a few lazy stereotypes about women being the ones with the real power etc – but I’ll just focus on the fact that it worked. The Daily Mail managed a spectacular 83% cut, 98% pasted with 2499 characters overlapping; whilst the Daily Express worked really hard, cutting just 61% and pasting just 60%.

Another successful result for (who I appear to be essentially but unintentionally plugging here – but do visit them as a one-stop-shop for all your churnalism needs) and another happy client, getting press coverage for a fraction of the cost. However, Onepoll are not always successful. If they take the round side of a gender issue, then the papers won’t go near their CTRL-V keys. Austin Reed followed up the Ginster poll with another ‘revealing’ gender poll:

It’s official – men are better at shopping than women, it emerged yesterday (Weds).

Research has revealed that even though they shop more frequently, women are more likely to come home empty-handed having failed to find what they were looking for…

And when it comes to updating their wardrobe men like to spend MORE on clothes than women.

Note how this poll is also referred to as ‘research’ and a ‘study’ which seems a bit of a glorification. Regardless, the result doesn’t suit the media narrative about women and shopping and it has yet to be churned by any newspaper. I guess there are some filters applied to churnalism after all.

Kendall Jenner / Kardashian: Mailbait extraordinaire

Following on from my post on how the Mail hypocritically cashes in on publishing vast quantities of semi-nude photos of celebrities, all the while wagging their fingers and shaking their heads in disgust it is even more disturbing when the girl featured is only 14 years old. One of their favourite female celebrities is Kim Kardashian – who the Mail once put down with the observation that she: ‘has made a bit of a name for herself from turning up to the opening of an envelope’, which must make the Mail even more pathetic given that they feel the need to cover each non-event in huge depth with a flurry of articles.

Kendall Jenner (Kardashian is always used nearby to get maximum traffic) is famous for two reasons:

  1. She is the half-sister of Kim Kardashian.
  2. Aged 14 she posed in a bikini on a beach. The Daily Mail now insists on always referring to it as ‘THAT bikini shoot’ whenever Kim or Kendall are mentioned, along with an obligatory photo.

To make the point really sink in about just how utterly pathetic the Mail website is let’s get down to some figures. First off, the Daily Mail is so disturbed by ‘racy’ photos of a 14 year old in a bikini they publish them in at least 6 separate articles:

  1. After THAT bikini shoot, Kim Kardashian’s little sister Kendall lands a role in a pop video.
  2. ‘I never intended to be racy’: Kim Kardashian’s 14-year-old sister Kendall defends bikini photo shoot.
  3. Now that’s more age appropriate! Kim Kardashian’s little sister Kendall is back to being a regular teenager.
  4. Kendall’s the rebel Kardashian as she hits the red carpet in biker boots NOT high heels.
  5. That’s better! Kardashian sister Kendall, 14, dresses her age after bikini row.
  6. Keeping up with the Kardashian’s careers: Now youngest sister Kylie’s a model. [This article features photos of 12 year old Kylie, photos which are more ‘age appropriate’ than the bikini shot of Kendall they print immediately below.]

You can kind of spot the logic behind how they print the bikini shots; basically if Kendall wears anything other than a bikini the Mail can write a story about how she is finally dressing ‘appropriate to her age’ whilst at the same time they can publish once more the bikini shoot photos. Even for the Daily Mail website this is really scraping the barrel of what can be considered newsworthy.

Next up, a simple search of the Mail website for ‘Kardashian’ returns 427 articles. I don’t even know what this person does. After flicking through a few articles it appears she is some kind of ‘reality TV star’ who is famous for being famous, if that makes any sense. The Daily Mail love her because she takes a good photo and being on reality TV they can publish screen prints of her doing something completely innocuous and pass it off as news.

A worldwide Google search for ‘Kim Kardashian’ reveals a Daily Mail article on page 2, which is not a bad result. However, search for UK pages only and the Mail website dominates results – getting 3 out of 3 ‘news results’. Again, this kind of gutter journalism is all about driving traffic to the website. The Daily Mail might pretend to have moral objections to a 14 year old posing in what they label as a ‘racy’ photo shoot. However, these objections still don’t stop them publishing said photos over and over again in complete non-stories.

Once again, please forgive me for publishing this statement from Mail Online editor Martin Clarke:

News is far more important to us that showbiz. News is what drives our site.

Shameless attempts to cash in

I’m currently building a new blog that will attempt to draw together some of the narratives discussed on this blog into essays that have a bit more depth, that can start to draw together blog posts into a proper exploration of how the tabloid press functions. One of the key ideas that I want to expand on is that that bad journalism is good business, the tackier the ‘news’ the more website traffic is generated and the more advertising revenue is made by the Daily Mail and others. It is therefore essential that the Daily Mail (the busiest newspaper website) attempts to win the Google search traffic as well as the bemused Internet users who regularly link to Mail articles because they are so ludicrously stupid or offensive (for example the Jan Moir Gately article or any number of Mail articles linking Facebook to cancer / murders / evil people in general and so on).

This means that the Daily Mail is pretty shameless when it comes to content because this is no longer about good journalism, but good traffic. The Daily Mail does not care whether you visit their website to bash your head against the desk at the sheer inanity of its content or the insanity of its comment, or whether you are actually the sort of person who enjoys either. The only thing they do care about is that you do visit. It reminds me of Howard Stern the American ‘shock-jock’ who had a huge audience and when research was done into who listened and for how long it was concluded that people that disliked the show listened far more regularly and for longer periods than fans of the show. The reason given was that people who disliked the show wanted to listen to keep up to date with how offensive he was and be properly outraged.

I can’t help in some ways to see my use of the Mail website – and reading the print edition – in the same way. I read it purely to keep tabs on it, to be outraged and to write about it. However, I would argue that I at least try to do something constructive with my visits; I attempt to correct false stories and draw attention to opinion pieces that I think are offensive but are based on lazy stereotypes or lies. I to compete with the Daily Mail for Google traffic and I hope that when people search on Google for something they heard about through the tabloid press they will find blogs like this at the top of those rankings so they at least have the truth in front of them, even if they choose to ignore it.

Returning to my original point that the Daily Mail is pretty shameless when it comes to content is their use of half-naked female celebrities to drive traffic to the website. They could just be honest and write articles about how Christina Aguilera has a great rack and how they have lots of pictures and a video for you to look at. However, they feel the need to dress up such articles with a turned-up, disapproving nose as if they are merely pointing out how awful such things are:

It’s supposed to be an advertisement for her new fragrance Royal Desire.

But the commercial for Christina Aguilera’s latest perfume looks more like a low budget soft-porn film as the newly-single pop star shows off her curvaceous figure.

Showcasing her ample cleavage in a very low cut dress and writhing in a chair in ecstasy as she sprays the perfume across her chest, the singer’s ad may be a bit too risque for her younger fans.

This attitude can exist for two reasons:

  1. The Daily Mail is puritanical in outlook (there are probably lots of arguments to support this, however, their content suggests this is not the case).
  2. The Daily Mail wants to draw in those looking for some semi-naked pics of celebrities whilst at the same time driving the bemused Internet traffic, i.e. people like me and others who perhaps heard about the story on Twitter or Facebook. We visit the webpage to laugh at the irony of the Mail saying how awful semi-naked celebrities are whilst plastering lots of photos and a video around the article.

I think the second reason is very powerful. What the Jan Moir Gately article taught the Daily Mail is that being offensive (or just plain crap) can draw in far more traffic than good journalism. Twitter is a great way of driving traffic to a website, but traffic is only driven to something very good or very crap, the Mail knows it is rarely going to attract the very good traffic but it knows it leads the market in crap content. When it posts an article claiming that Facebook gives you cancer it knows that it will get traffic from Facebook (a massive resource for Internet traffic) users who will share the article pointing out how silly it is – but as above, it does not matter how or why it is shared, only that it is shared and that people click the link. The same goes for the link being shared on Twitter. Someone posts a link to the article saying ‘have you seen this in the Mail? Laughably stupid!’ or whatever, and the link gets clicked on and shared.

We all have a good laugh or a facepalm at how stupid the Daily Mail is, whilst they sit back and count the advertising revenue.

This, ironically, brings me to the reason I started this blog post: have you seen this ‘news’ in the Mail about Charlie Sheen and the porn star? It really is laughably hypocritical: ‘Now Charlie Sheen’s porn star date attempts to cash in… as sordid new details emerge’. The Daily Mail points out that:

Porn star Christina Walsh, who goes by the stage name Capri Anderson, is shamelessly using the incident to promote herself.

They make sure to include her real name and screen name several times throughout the article to ensure they get as much Google traffic as possible, all the while claiming that it is the porn star that is ‘shamelessly using the incident to promote herself’. Indeed, Christina Walsh appears to be responding to the immense media coverage already created by the Mail and other tabloids. Whether she issued a response or not the Mail was always going to print as many follow-up stories as possible to ensure maximum advertising revenue, so she really couldn’t win either way. [As an aside, I always find it amusing that this kind of article always implies that these details arrive in the public domain naturally: ‘sordid new details emerge’. It sounds as if the details have revealed themselves to us, that the Daily Mail has nothing to do with this process. Clearly the Daily Mail is revealing these ‘sordid new details’ and an accurate headline would be: ‘Now Charlie Sheen’s porn star date attempts to cash in… as we publish sordid new details’. Details emerging as if on their own accord is a very Orwellian use of language, and it fools nobody.]

A quick Google search for ‘Christina Walsh’ gets the Daily Mail into the top ten search results twice. However, when searching for her screen name (don’t try this at work) ‘Capri Anderson’ the Daily Mail gets nothing on the first few pages. It seems they still have a long way to go before they can compete with Internet porn. Perhaps one day they will make the editorial decision to embed hardcore tube videos into their articles to really compete in terms of sex traffic.

For now they will just have to be happy with the traffic generated by hypocritical celebrity drivel, insane, offensive columnists and terrible, terrible journalism.

The Freak Show business model of modern journalism

I attended a blogging event over the weekend which I want to write up at some point – I’m still gathering my thoughts somewhat – and I had the chance to get across my basic disgust at the disinformation printed as a matter of course by the tabloid media. What I didn’t get round to saying was how a substantial amount of journalism had become simply sticking a few pictures of a women in a bikini and writing about how she looks. Every day on the Mail website you will see articles like this one: ‘Wild Thing no more: A fuller figured Neve Campbell emerges from the Hawaii sea in bikini’. You all know the drill:

  1. Said celebrity is a bit too fat for the Daily Mail.
  2. What is worse is that they used to look incredible – here, have some photos of said celebrity 12 years ago so you can all shake your heads in disgust at how she has let herself go.
  3. You will notice that the old photos of said celebrity feature naked breasts, we have pixelated the nipples because we think that might offend you. We do not think this kind of ‘journalism’ could offend you.
  4. The celebrity happens to have a new movie out. We’ll list the names of all the main actors, along with the name of the film as many times as possible. This helps our website get as many hits as possible.
  5. You’ll notice we have also put photos of said celebrity over the years looking nice at film premieres. This is because we have lots of these photos on file, it is effortless for us to print them and we know how many of our visitors prefer pictures to real journalism.
  6. Please enjoy the film trailer. Again, we are just making sure we hoover up as many Google searches as possible. It also helps to bulk up an article that essentially could be reduced to ‘woman goes to beach’.

This kind of article forms the bulk of Mail Online content and it is not journalism. Furthermore, it is creating the atmosphere in which women are reduced to objects that can fit into three main categories*:

  1. A women with a ‘fuller figure’, meaning that they used to look really slender and have let themselves go; or that they have always ‘bucked the trend’ by seeming happy to have a fuller figure. These women are bad because with a bit of effort they could conform to the Mail’s exacting standards of womanhood.
  2. A women who is too skinny. The Mail will inform you of the ‘shocking’ diets these women follow in order to maintain an unhealthy figure – they will accompany this information with photos of said ‘bony’ body in a bikini if possible. This celebrity should in theory gain weight (which would also be covered as they would then enter the unacceptable territory of category 1) but the Mail will sometimes let their approval of category 2 slip by referring to such women as ‘slender’, or having a small frame. This implies that they are not unhealthy and that weight is natural. This category is therefore bad in some ways – in that strict diets are shocking and skinny women look all bony; but at the same time because categories 1 & 3 are even more unacceptable we can only conclude that all women should strive to be in category 2, even if the Mail will still criticise both the end result (whilst also happily ogling the end result) and the way it was achieved (even if they admire their self-control and discipline whilst on such diets, discipline sadly lacking from categories 1 & 3).
  3. A women who is grossly overweight. These women are clearly really fat and as such the Daily Mail will delight in taking photos of them and giving their readers free reign to abuse said women in the comments. Often the worst thing about category 3 women is that they seem proud of their weight, or at the very least they look ‘unconcerned’ when wondering around in public. Generally these women need to be shamed into taking the ‘shocking diets’ which will then lead them into the criticism faced by category 2, along with photographs showing protruding bones and so forth. However, category 2 is infinitely preferable to the Daily Mail.

The same website that criticises Neve Campbell for daring to age and having a ‘fuller figure’ (which appears to be to the untrained eye** a very nice figure) can happily feature an article not far away criticising (ostensibly) a different female celebrity for being ‘skinny’: ‘”I ate 1,000 calories a day”: Skinny Whitney Port reveals her punishing diet secrets’. Yet the Daily Mail only refers to her as skinny in the headline, they use the much more positive ‘slender’ throughout the article to describe her. Women cannot win. The best they can hope for is to be a category 2, which is to be dangerously obsessive about their weight and diet at the expense of their long-term health.

The Daily Mail website is a modern freakshow in which women and men are paraded in order to be mocked by the visiting reader. It is also an unintended freakshow in which the sorry business model of modern journalism is revealed: pack in the reader by appealing to their basest instincts. It seems that body fascism along with a large dose of patronising misogyny sells. Sadly, because it sells it is also here to stay.

* I think you can also put male celebrities into the same categories, except replace really skinny in category 2 with really muscular.
** I am aware after my exposure to proper journalists on the weekend that I am not a real journalist as I haven’t had the formal training which makes real journalists the very elite of ‘writing stuff down’. Presumably real journalists will be mocking my perception of Neve Campbell because they can see her figure in a proper journalistic context, i.e. they will be sat there going: ‘Sure, I mean a casual non-journalist would think she looks OK, but put a photo of her with her tits out taken 12 years ago next to a photo of her now and you can see just how wrong she is.’

Mailbait, perversion and hypocrisy

The Daily Mail has a worrying obsession with young girls / women and it is deeply unpleasant and very hypocritical. Today’s article really seems to be wallowing in obsessive detail about the lack of bra on a 17 year old and the presence of a bra on a 10 year old – yes, a 10 year old: ‘Don’t start taking fashion tips from Britney, Miley! Miss Cyrus emulates her pop idol’s style as she steps out in Los Angeles’. The ‘author’ of the piece is Georgina Littlejohn who proudly, easily and knowingly sinks to splashing round knee deep in the banal shit that has made her father so wealthy as she has for her entire ‘career’.

The main premise of the article is typical Daily Mail Hollywood fare: famous person steps outside and therefore must be clearly making some sort of statement or flaunting themselves simply because the Daily Mail pays someone to shove a camera in their face. Today we learn that Miley Cyrus has gone out for lunch without a bra, and clearly this justifies a few hundred words and 5 photos of said ‘inappropriate attire’ (if it is so inappropriate or offensive, don’t print it, repeatedly). For good measure they also throw in a picture of Britney Spears without a bra, just in case you had forgotten what that looked like – although that is difficult given the frequency with which the Daily Mail prints a picture of Britney Spears without a bra.

Just when you think the Daily Mail could not get any creepier – or, more bluntly, more hypocritically perverted – Georgina then turns her gaze to 10 year old Noah Cyrus:

Noah, however, didn’t follow her sister’s fashion mistake and remembered to wear underwear.

But being only ten years old, she doesn’t actually need to wear one, and she certainly didn’t need to flash it from beneath her vest top.

And unlike most mothers who probably wouldn’t even let their little girls leave the house dressed like that, Tish Cyrus happily posed for a snap for a fan alongside her girls and their inappropriate attire.

Naturally the Daily Mail prints a photo of this ‘innapropriate’ photo – just so you can look at as well as read about the bra being worn by a 10 year old. Is this what journalism has become? Sneaking peeks at a 10 year olds bra and insinuating that it is the wearing of the bra that is perverse, rather than printing it in a newspaper and writing about it? Amazingly, Georgina is just getting into her stride:

Then again, this is the mother who gave her approval to a fashion range designed by her daughter which was slammed by critics for being highly unsuitable for little girls.

Earlier this year, there was an outcry from parents after Disney star Noah Cyrus launched a children’s clothing range which included an array of mini skirts, skin-tight lycra dresses, and high-heeled knee-high boots.

And last October, she also caused controversy when she attended a Halloween party dressed in a black lace-up mini dress with PVC knee-high boots.

And yes, you guessed correctly Noah is pictured in both outfits directly underneath this paragraph. So there you have it, Tish Cyrus is an awful mother for letting her daughters go out in this deeply inappropriate way, but here, have a page full of photos so you can see just how filthy these young girls are. Just remember the Mail website and its plethora of Mailbait articles the next time it tries to lecture us on ‘Broken Britain’, teenage sex or any other form of moral outrage it feels. Britain is not broken, but Daily Mail journalism certainly is.

Eating disorders

This article: ‘Shocking figures reveal one in three hospital admissions for eating disorders are children’ is currently buried at the bottom of the Mail website. To the right of it are the normal too fat / too thin / too old / too ugly stories that form the staple diet of the Mail website. Needless to say the Daily Mail misses out on a chance to reflect on the media’s impact on these ‘shocking figures’ (a phrase the Mail normally reserves to describe a group of women not conforming to their strict body expectations).

They report that the survey found that more than half blamed their condition on family traumas, whilst 3% said they were influenced by ‘size zero models and skinny pop stars’. The missing percentages are not mentioned.

Just over a week ago the Daily Mail put this picture onto their website:

They accompanied it with accusations that the dress Katy Perry was wearing was  ‘clinging in all the wrong places’ and included the words ‘girth’ and ‘protruding belly’.

Thankfully a commenter underneath the Mail article has posted this under today’s article:

Eating Disorders