Posted by dnotice
October 16th, 2010
This is a cross-post on The Sun – Tabloid Lies, Express Watch and Mail Watch.
When you read the Sun, Daily Mail and the Express over a long-enough period of time, you start to notice a few things.
One thing that crops up regularly are hysterical ranting posts over a few small topics, including the following:
We’ve noticed that a lot of these scare stories could be stopped by a little research, which we accept that pressed-for-time tabloid journalists, for whatever reason, are unable to do.
Therefore, in the spirit of co-operation, we’ve decided to help them out by listing great sources of information, thereby saving them valuable time:
There are also a variety of websites which can be used for any “Bloody Foreigners! Coming over ‘ere! Takin’ our jobs! Takin’ our wimmin!” stories*:
There are also more general fact-checking sites**:
Of course, any and all of these lists could also be used by anyone else who wants to know more about the articles which the Sun, Daily Mail and/or the Express publish.
If anyone has any other suggestions as what other sources our tabloid journalists could use, just leave them in the comments.
* Thanks to Tabloid Watch for these particular links
** Thanks to Bloggerheads for these suggestions
Categories: EU, Healthcare, Immigration, Media, Political correctness |
Posted by 5cc
August 28th, 2010
For a few years now, the Mail has been telling us that England is the most crowded country in Europe. Thursday’s edition included the latest version of this, in ‘This very crowded isle: England is most over-populated country in EU‘. But is it?
This story is based on figures provided by the House of Commons Library, taken from the Office for National Statistics (here and here) and Eurostat (here). (They’re also mentioned in an answer to a parliamentary question in July, supplied by the ONS). They show that England’s population density in 2010 was projected to be 401 people per square kilometre by the ONS.
The Mail reports this as being 402.1 per square km, just under 4 people higher than the Netherlands, which it reports as being 398.5 people per square km.
The parliamentary answer says:
Eurostat publishes estimates of population densities for all EU countries up to 2007 (see table tps00003 under main demographic indicators at [this link]
Table tps00003 – the table that the Office for National Statistics suggests we use to find out the population density of European countries – shows that in 2007, the Netherlands’ density was 485.3 people per square km. The Mail said that in 2010 it was 398.5.
Official stats from the Dutch equivalent of the ONS show that the Netherlands’ projected population density for 2010 is 491 people per square km. Over 90 people higher than the Daily Mail reports.
According to the ONS figures, England won’t reach that level until some time between 2031 and 2056. So how has the Mail been suggesting for years that England is the most overcrowded country in Europe?
Nearly a fifth of the Netherlands is covered by water. The Dutch government takes account of that by measuring population density by land area only. Eurostat includes this measurement in its own figures, and the ONS advises we use Eurostat figures to measure population density. But for some reason, the Mail ignores this.
This needn’t be deliberate. It could be that the Mail or whoever provided the paper with these figures never actually noticed the Eurostat numbers, and made their own calculations that didn’t take account of water in the Netherlands.
Whatever the reason for the omission, it’s clear that England is only the most overcrowded country in Europe if you ignore official Dutch figures, ignore the figures the ONS suggest and decide that Dutch people can live underwater.
Categories: Immigration |
Posted by 5cc
April 14th, 2010
The most read story on the Daily Mail website today is labelled ‘Immigrant gang of eight molest girl, 14, in street – but no one is charged as it’s ‘not in public interest” on the homepage, and in the page title (which also includes a classic tabloid ‘fury as’). Clicking the link will show that the headline has been changed to ‘Eight boys molest girl, 14, in street but not one faces charges‘.
The change of headline could have been made because of a statement issued by the Crown Prosecution Service, reported in Peterborough Today, which says:
The Crown Prosecution Service refuted reports that it decided to drop the case because it was not deemed to be in the public interest. A spokesman said all decisions to press charges are based on two “tests” outlined in the Code for Crown Prosecutors.
He said: “The first is the evidential test where we have to be satisfied that there is enough admissible evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction.
“If the evidence satisfies the first test, then we have to consider the second test – the public interest test. A prosecution will usually take place unless the public interest factors against prosecution clearly outweigh those in favour of prosecution.
“In this particular case, there was a lack of sufficient evidence to give rise to a realistic prospect of conviction before a criminal court and so the public interest test was not considered.”
So, the boys did not escape prosecution because it wasn’t in the public interest. It’s a shame, but there just wasn’t enough evidence to get a conviction from. This sort of thing happens, annoying as it might be.
What about the other claim in the original headline, that an ‘immigrant gang of eight’ molested a girl?
Speaking to MailWatch, a spokesperson for the Crown Prosecution Service said that although it would be accurate to say the boys were Slovakian, “some reports have called the boys ‘gypsy migrants’ which would not be accurate language to use,” and not something the CPS would have said. This is because the information the CPS has comes from the question on the police’s arrest form, which is self-reported by the suspect. It doesn’t include information like ‘gypsy’.
As for the ‘migrant’ or ‘immigrant’ – the Mail article has this to say:
The boys, from local Romany migrant families who settled in the city in the late 1990s…
So, since the boys are aged between 8 and 12 and their families arrived in the UK in the late 90s, they’re probably not migrants at all. Since their parents arrived before Slovakia joined the EU and movement between EU countries became easier, they may even be UK citizens.
The removal of the word ‘immigrant’ probably explains the headline change, since the boys aren’t called immigrants in the body of the story. It’s the only thing that has gone though. The story still falsely claims in its opening sentence:
A gang of boys who molested a girl of 14 have escaped prosecution because it is ‘not in the public interest’.
The paper gets around the ‘migrant’ and ‘gypsy’ references by saying:
…the boys, from Slovakian gipsy families…
The boys, from local Romany migrant families…
Where the idea that their families are gypsies comes from is anyone’s guess.
Although the paper may have been careful only to imply the boys are immigrants in the body of the story, it has been less than careful in moderating the comments, which say:
Good to see the CPS are obeying Government dictat and placing the human rights of immigrants above those of the indigenous population when the law is broken.
We cannot allow bands of immigrant boys who perpetrate this type of crime to go unpunished.
This country now belongs to benefits claimants, criminals and street gangs, bankers, human rights lawyers, and economic immigrants….
I’ll bet the spineless, idiotic, moronic wombles from the CPS would soon be prosecuting if one of the immigrants had made a complaint.
Soon, the UK will have the same problems as France (rape rooms in the ghettos) and the immigrant (youth) gang rapists in Australia, Denmark, Sweden, Netherlands etc
The reason is simple. There is not a penny to be made in the form of fines by prosecuting these illegal immigrants.
Eastern European gypsies enjoy a doubly protected status in Britain as immigrants and as gypsies.
In who’s best interest? This lying government, to keep the crimes of immigrants out of the statistics.
Ah, but if the victim had been an immigrant and the offenders indigenous English do you think the CPS would have come to the same decision? Neither do I.
Typical – One rule for immigrants and one for the people of this once great country
Who makes these decisions? Whoever decided that allowing these immigrant thugs to walk free was the righ thing to do, needs to lose their job.
I could go on, but I’m sure you get the picture by now. Lots of commenters say the boys are immigrants, as does the homepage link and page title.
Loads more comments also say the prosecution was dropped because it wasn’t in the public interest, but the paper didn’t bother to remove that bit from the article.
Still not true though.
UPDATE- For another look at this story and a possible reason for why it was told in this way, see TabloidWatch for ‘How the anti-immigration agenda works‘.
Categories: Immigration |
Posted by 5cc
February 25th, 2010
There has been a bit of brouhaha in the Mail over the last couple of weeks about immigration and the government’s motives for shifting to a policy of ‘managed migration’ rather than one of restricting it back in 2000/2001.
The story started with ‘Labour threw open doors to mass migration in secret plot to remake a multicultural UK‘, moved through ‘STEPHEN GLOVER: Using immigration to turn Britain into a nation of Labour voters is so shameful‘ and ‘Secret Labour plan to increase immigration for social reasons dismissed public’s opposition as ‘racist‘, to the latest: ‘MELANIE PHILLIPS: At last we know the truth: Labour despises anyone who loves Britain, its values and its history‘.
But what are these new revelations about immigration policy, where do they come from, and do they stand up when they’re examined?
What are the revelations?
Last October, Andrew Neather wrote the pro-immigration ‘Don’t listen to the whingers – London needs immigrants‘, saying that there was an undercurrent in Labour thinking that said immigration was a way to increase multiculturalism and rub the right’s nose in diversity. The tabloids seized on this as evidence of a secret plot to increase multiculturalism, and Neather wrote a clarification ‘How I became the story and why the Right is wrong‘ saying:
Somehow this [his previous article] has become distorted by excitable Right-wing newspaper columnists into being a “plot” to make Britain multicultural.
There was no plot.
These new articles suggest that there is new evidence that reveals there really was a plot to do just that. Some go further and suggest that the real reason was to deliberately import Labour voters. Later articles claim the government ‘branded us all racists’.
Where do they come from?
The first of these articles in the Mail is from James Slack; ‘How Labour threw open doors to mass migration in a secret plot to remake a multicultural UK‘. Appended to this article is ‘Paying the price for a decade of deception‘ by Sir Andrew Green of MigrationWatch, who claims it is from:
…a Government policy document which he [Andrew Neather] had helped to write in 2000.
All these articles are about the same document, an early draft that includes information that doesn’t appear in the final version.
Does this all stand up when the evidence is examined?
Firstly, the claims about the document are not right. Andrew Neather did not help to write this document. The final published ‘Migration: an economic and social analysis‘ includes a list of authors. Andrew Neather is not one of them. He never even claimed to be one, only saying in both his articles that he’d written a speech based on it. Neather was far more removed from the process than Andrew Green suggests, which makes it more likely that he was mistaken than it would be if he was one of the authors.
Nor is the document a ‘Government policy document’ as Andrew Green should know, because even in the early draft version he has, a paragraph says:
This study is for discussion purposes only and does not constitute a statement of Government policy.
Both claims Andrew Green makes about the document have been beefed up. This document has been made to seem more significant than it was and Andrew Neather has been made to look as though he was more closely involved than he was.
So we’re starting from a much weaker base than we’re being led to believe, and the existence of a secret plot looks even less likely. Especially when the man who kicked of the whole fuss said:
There was no plot.
What are the edits to this document, and do they refer to increasing multiculturalism or importing Labour voters?
The earlier articles, from ‘Revealed, the REAL reason…’ through to ‘Using immigration to turn Britain into a nation of Labour voters…’ are based purely on the Executive Summary of the document, and not the full report itself. What has been removed are vague references to ’social objectives’. Nothing about Multiculturalism or importing votes.
Since we only have the Executive Summary, we’re not necessarily looking at these things being removed from the main document. There is still a full section about the social outcomes of migration in the document, so social outcomes of migration feature quite prominently.
Here’s what the Mail says some of the edits from the Executive Summary are, followed by quotes from the final published version of the main document to show whether or not there have been huge cuts to hide things. From the Mail’s edit no 2 (which is not actually paragraph 2 of the summary):
But this should not be viewed as a negative – to the extent that migration is driven by market forces, it is likely to be economically beneficial.
From the full document:
Economic migration is normally a voluntary market transaction between a willing buyer (whoever is willing to employ the migrant) and a willing seller (the migrant), and is hence likely to be both economically efficient and beneficial to both parties. Indeed, the basic economic theory of migration is very similar to that of trade; and, like trade, migration generally is expected to yield welfare gains.
Not that different, huh? You might even summarise this passage in the same way as the draft Summary.
From edit 3:
…argues that it is clearly correct that the Government has both economic and social objectives for migration policy.
From the main document in the chapter ‘Objectives of current policy’:
It is important to integrate policies on migration with other Government policies, in particular on the labour market and on social exclusion, as well as wider economic and social policies.
And from the pull-out box ‘High level Government objectives’:
The Government’s overall objectives are:
- to increase sustainable growth (per capita) and employment
- to promote fairness and opportunity
- to deliver modern and efficient public services.
Doesn’t number 2 look like a social objective?
How about this, from the same box:
DfEE: to give everyone a chance, through education, training and work, to realise their full potential and thus build an inclusive and fair society and a competitive economy
HO: to build a safe, just and tolerant society, in which the rights and responsibilities of individuals, families and communities are properly balanced, and the protection and security of the public is maintained
DCMS: to improve the quality of life for all through sporting and cultural activities, and to strengthen the creative industries
From edit 4:
The more general social impact of migration is very difficult to assess. Benefits include a widening of consumer choice and significant cultural contributions. These in turn feed into wider economic benefits.
From the full document:
Not enough is known about migrants’ social outcomes…
Benefits include a widening of consumer choice and significant cultural contributions (e.g. in the arts,literature, science and sport); these in turn feed back into wider economic benefits.
Why, that would appear to be almost exactly the same as the summary.
From edit 5:
In practice, entry controls can contribute to social exclusion
From the full document:
In part, social exclusion can be the result of entry and settlement controls designed to deter entry.
From edit 6:
It is clear that migration policy has both social and economic impacts and should be designed to contribute to the government’s overall objectives on both counts. The current position is a considerable advance on the previously existing situation, when the aim of immigration policy was, or appeared to be, to reduce primary immigration to the ‘irreducible minimum’ – an objective with no economic or social justification.
First, I should say I couldn’t find this quote in the draft included on the MigrationWatch site. Either James Slack has a different draft, or he’s ‘paraphrased’.
From the full document:
Post-entry migration policy has a potentially powerful role in influencing migrants’ economic and social outcomes and their economic and social impacts on natives. Thus there appears considerable scope for more substantive and co-ordinated post-entry policies designed to ensure that migration does indeed achieve the Government’s economic and social objectives.
Not that different, huh? Even less different from the version MigrationWatch includes. And look, it includes the phrase ’social objectives’.
We’re clearly not talking about a huge slash and burn here. We’re talking about tweaks to the Executive Summary, and a document going through the motions of the editing process. The claim that the government cynically surpressed the real reasons for immigration by cutting the offending pieces from a document do not stand up.
In most cases, something almost identical to what was cut from the summary is included in the main document.
The idea that Labour were deliberately trying to increase multiculturalism, or rub anyone’s nose in diversity, or import voters is simply not suppoerted by the evidence Andrew Green has given.
What about the later articles?
‘Secret Labour plan to increase immigration for social reasons dismissed public’s opposition as ‘racist’‘ gets off to a bad start because we now know the evidence doesn’t support the idea of a secret Labour plan. The published document, which only presented evidence for discussion anyway, still included references to social outcomes of migration, referenced social objectives and includes almost everything cut from the summary in the main document in one form or another anyway.
Still, it has this to say:
Fuller details released yesterday showed that Tony Blair’s ministers opened the doors to mass migration in knowledge of public opposition and with the view that those who disagreed with them were racists.
Labour’s accusation that opponents of immigration are racist has been dropped over the last two years as it has become clear that former Labour voters in party heartlands have been turning to the far right British National Party.
It showed that ministers were advised that only the ill-educated and those who had never met a migrant were opposed to immigration.
This seems to be a reference to an earlier draft of the full document, but we’re not given the full quote to compare the claim to.
Full quotes did appear in an earlier version of the story, but they’ve been cut. Given that the paper has been claiming that cuts from a draft document are evidence of dishonesty, this is pretty ironic.
TabloidWatch examined the earlier version and has the direct quotes, so we can compare:
Recent research shows that anti-immigrant sentiment is closely correlated with racism rather than economic motives,
This is clearly not the same as saying that anyone who disagreed with the government or opposed immigration were racist. It was saying that some recent research showed that it was more often than not.
But this was cut from the version of the document that ministers were given for discussion. So the claim that ministers ‘opened the doors with the view that those who disagreed’ is not supported by this evidence.
As for the ‘ill-educated and never met a migrant’:
‘Education and people’s personal exposure to migrants make them less likely to be anti-migrant.
‘The most negative attitudes are found among those who have relatively little direct contact with migrants, but see them as a threat.’
Again, the quote says nothing about people who have never met a migrant. It doesn’t really say that only the ill-educated are anti-immigration either. From the context, it looks as though the document was talking of education about migrants. It would be better if we could see it in context.
Again, this was cut from the final document, so ministers were not advised this by this document. The evidence does not support the claim that ‘ministers were advised’, because they weren’t by the document this was cut from.
It’s odd that the paper should cut direct quotes and only include inaccurate representations of what the draft document said. It’s also odd that nobody has made the newer release of the full document available to look at to see how explosive it is too. I can’t help but wonder if that’s because it would make the new representations of it look less than accurate, in the same way the Draft Executive Summary makes earlier claims look very bad indeed.
Is there proof that Labour despises anyone who loves Britain?
Umm, no. *Ahem.*
Storm in a teacup
This whole storm has been built out of something really quite minor, and the evidence we’ve been given supports none of the claims that have been made about it.
We have a discussion document rather than a policy document, we have someone making claims who had seen a copy and wrote a speech based on it rather than one of the writers, and we have some alleged suppressing of things that were actually published and just not summarised. None of the things that were cut mention the things that have been claimed, and you’d have to make a great leap of faith, imagining what some vague language might mean in order to make the claims fit.
Where there were cuts, there are simpler reasons why they may have happened in a document outlining evidence for discussion like this one. Maybe the evidence wasn’t strong enough to be included. Maybe the ’social objectives’ were not high enough a priority. Maybe the civil servants who wrote it felt the economic arguments shouldn’t be overshadowed. Perhaps there was even the idea that the tabloids would zero in on social objectives rather than the more important economic ones and misrepresent what the dosument said. Who knows? That most of the material cut from the Executive Summary actually appears in one form or another in the main document makes a secret plot seem even less likely.
If you want evidence that immigration policy was based on a secret plot to increase multiculturalism or import voters, this isn’t it.
Categories: Immigration |
Posted by Tim Ireland
November 27th, 2009
Hello. If you know any readers of the Daily mail, would you be so kind as to pass this on to them by email (or simply link to this post)?
Hello to you, dear reader of the Daily Mail.
I would like to bring to your attention the story of a hospital ward and a map:
A few things about this story need to be pointed out:
1. That some of these ‘foreign’ mothers they speak of may have been here for as long as their entire adult lives is neatly tossed to one side in the following manner (one fact has nothing to do with the other, unless you are to say that ‘foreign is foreign’, and if you agree with that, then you may as well give up on this letter now):
“It is impossible to say how long each of the mothers has been in this country. But the fact is only a fraction of them declared themselves as having a British background.”
2. What is also tossed to one side is the ‘theory’ of rules about visas and NHS care. Absolutely nothing valid or relevant is produced to verify the doubts raised.
3. Then some statistics are casually thrown about that, rather than reinforcing any of the above specifics, merely reinforce an idea (i.e. that we are being flooded with foreigners).
4. The following sentence (part of a wider statement from the hospital) was included *after* this story was first written and published, and shows the extremes to which reality conflicts with the fantasy this newspaper is trying to sell you. This is the only statistic in the article that comes from the hospital. It is also the only statistic that relates directly to the case being made about the map… and it contradicts it entirely!
“In 2009, there have been just two overseas admissions.”
Yes, you read that right; every other mother that year (and there were 548 of them in 2009) were British citizens, yet the headline (below) portrays this group as being vastly outnumbered:
“Mapping out the strain on your NHS: 243 sick babies treated in one London hospital ward…. and just 18 mothers come from Britain”
It is not just the way in which the truth is handled so casually in the entire affair but *what* is so casually done away with that makes it clear the writer and editor either have an innate and irrational fear of foreigners or (worse) are willingly misrepresenting the good work of some our most valued care workers (who, it turns out, are also represented by some of the pins on this map) in order to deliberately make you more fearful of a foreign invasion than you have cause to be.
All the hospital workers wanted to do was a engage in a little nurturing and enable a little community bonding. That’s been completely misrepresented here, maliciously one might suspect, just to make you afraid.
The alternative is that the lines have been blurred in this way because the writer and editor responsible have allowed their own fear to cloud their reason; where everyone else sees a gesture of community, they see an invasion map!
I guess what I am trying to say is that you should probably think twice before trusting people like this as a primary source of something as important as *news*, as there is no telling how, when or why they might misrepresent facts, or even to what extent they may try this with you beyond (maybe) my saying this one’s a new low on me.
Thanks for your time.
Daily Mail Watch
This same issue has also been covered by Uponnothing, and Five Chinese Crackers. Do prepare yourself for a slightly terser tone.
Categories: Immigration |
Posted by Daily Quail
November 2nd, 2009
In my last post I looked at the effect controversial comments under articles on MailOnline might have on the brands advertised next to them. A number of advertisers had expressed concerns that unmoderated comments on the newspaper’s website might lead to issues with ads appearing alongside offensive comments. O2’s head of online marketing commented:
There’s always the risk with user content that our brand advertising may appear next to a comment we may not agree with or like. In the Mail Online example, we would want to understand the controls the media owner is giving to users of the forum so inappropriate content can be reported. If we’re satisfied with the processes then it’s likely we would consider advertising.
Currently the majority of comment sections on MailOnline remain at least partially moderated, yet, somehow, inappropriate content still seems to be slipping through. But have things improved since the last time we looked at the issue, when a torrent of xenophobic messages were left underneath a story about Asda stocking Asian inspired clothing? To find out, let’s look at today’s article about a man who died of asphyxiation after being trapped in a cramped and airless HGV compartment (thanks to Five Chinese Crackers for highlighting this).
Bear in mind that all comments appearing under this story have been pre-moderated (i.e., checked in advance by a MailOnline employee to ensure nothing ‘defamatory, malicious, threatening, false, misleading, offensive, abusive, discriminatory, harassing, blasphemous or racist‘ gets through) . The article was published at some point before 6.30 PM, at which time these 13 comments were publicly visible. At the time of writing (11.30 PM), the following comments were the highest rated:
If these are the highest rated, and thus most visible, comments, how does that reflect upon the “controls” and “processes” used by MailOnline to prevent “inappropriate content” appearing? Other comments not shown above include:
I down, How many millions to go????
1 down and quite a few to go yet.
One less for us to worry about,
Is there a theme emerging? Yes, I think there is. This one sums it up:
One less to support for life.
while this one is more concerned about the cost of disposing of the fellow human being’s body
No doubt this country will be liable for disposing of his corpse.Dead and still costing us cash!
Even death is not enough to placate this pleasant chap’s distaste for asylum seekers.
Now seems like a good time to remind ourselves again that all of these comments ‘have been moderated in advance‘. Someone at Northcliffe House looked at the above comments and decided, ‘Yes, these are fine. Not just dismissing, or ignoring, or joking about, but celebrating the death of another human being is just fine with us. There is no conceivable way our readers and advertisers would find these comments defamatory, malicious, threatening, false, misleading, offensive, abusive, discriminatory, harassing, blasphemous or racist. They are perfectly suitable for publication.’
This also seems like an appropriate point to remember what the MD of planning and buying agency Diffiniti said before:
Advertisers need to be sure they’re in a suitable environment.
Currently, M&S, Channel 4, uSwitch, Zanussi, Kingsmill, Kaleidoscope, Barclays, Anglian Home Improvements, Axa PPP, American Express, Aviva, Job Centre Plus, Weight Watchers, O2, BMW, DFS, Virgin Media, Radisson Blu, Oral B, Kodak, Sainsburys, and RAC, all have display advertisments served to the page on which the above comments are hosted. Their brands appear alongside not just one comment reacting with glee to the death of an asylum seeker, but thirteen. In over five hours not a single comment has been published pointing out the tragedy of the case. The closest we get to sympathy is ‘Shame but I would be a hypocrit [sic] if I said I was sorry!’.
It seems unlikely, however, that not a single reader has not expressed any shred of humanity in reaction to the story. Not all Mail readers are cold-blooded bigots. Some would surely have left comments expressing horror at the miserable circumstances of the man’s death, sorrow for his passing, and shock at fellow commenters heartless remarks. So where are these comments? If thirteen frankly contemptable responses are waved through unedited, I cannot understand where the rest might have gone and how MailOnline can operate such lax controls on its own website. It almost seems as if, not only is “inappropriate content” appearing quite freely, but appropriate content is being suppressed. Whether this is because of technical or editorial reasons is unclear.
I am left wondering how many of the companies listed above, if they were aware of the lack of control MailOnline appears to have over its own readers, would be comfortable with their brand appearing alongside commenters celebrating the death of a man from asphyxiation? Would anyone regard that as a “suitable environment”?
Categories: Immigration, Media |
Posted by Daily Quail
September 14th, 2009
Last month, the Mail created a minor stir in the media industry by announcing that it would soon be introducing unmoderated comments under articles published on MailOnline. Most newspaper websites employ comment moderation in some form or another, checking comments before or after publication to weed out defamatory or libellous scribblings from armchair sages to protect both their own and their advertisers’ brand identities. Discriminatory, offensive, and inaccurate comments reflect badly on the content provider, regardless of whether or not the provider actually wrote them themself.
The announcement caused a bit of a fuss. Mark Trustum, director of e-commerce for Specsavers which advertises on MailOnline, said the firm would not continue to pay for advertising next to unmoderated, contraversial or offensive comments:
Unmoderated user content falls into this category and is a grey area for advertisers. It’s vitally important for us to protect our brand reputation and, therefore, as soon as we were made aware of any such content being present alongside our advertising we would immediately ask for our ad to be withdrawn.
Ben Wood, Managing Director of digital planning and buying agency (the guys who actually spend the money and buy advertising space for companies) Diffiniti agreed, saying he wouldn’t buy space for clients alongisde unmoderated comments. He explained succinctly:
Advertisers need to be sure they’re in a suitable environment.
A chorus of other media and advertising types (the people the Mail really cares about) echoed this sentiment; ad placement is a major issue in protecting brand identity. In May, Tesco and Vodafone pulled advertising from Facebook after ads were served on Holocaust denial and BNP group pages. More recently, advertisers deserted Glenn Beck’s rabid paranoid Fox News screamshow after he claimed Obama was ‘racist’. Why would any brand pay to associate itself with racism, xenophobia, and intolerance?
Why would, say, Marks & Spencer wish to advertise its Autograph Cotton Blend Trench Coat on a page that contains comments like ‘The islamic colonization of our country shows no sign of slowing down, infact [sic] it’s gathering pace as the tipping point approaches‘? Would uSwitch or Cotton Traders be happy to promote their services alongside bigoted rants such as this:
So, no patriotism allowed, no free-speech allowed, don’t mention the BNP, don’t complain about green-belt building to accommodate the influx, don’t dare say you’re a Christian, don’t complain that your local church is now a mosque, don’t be alarmed if your local town now looks like Islamabad. For Gawd’s sake, is there no end to the destruction of Englishness? When I shop in an English shop, I want to see English things ?
Unless their target market consists solely of angry xenopbobic white people, I doubt they’d be too pleased to see their brand on the same page as such bizarre outpourings of racially motivated bile.
Aside from advertising, another distinct part of the marketing mix is public relations. PR companies often send press releases to newspapers and magazines announcing new products or services in the hope of some free publicity. For example, Asda have just launched a new Asian inspired clothes range in selected stores, and you can see the resulting PR trail here. It’s not a hugely interesting story, so most newspapers have limited their articles to a few lines, rewritten from the original press release. Here’s the Guardian’s piece and here is the BBC’s version. You can tell when an article is based on a press release because all of the quotes are the same, from the same people, and it mentions specific products like the ’sequinned embellished Salwaar Kameez (or traditional suit) along with pricing. Press releases are what’s known in industry circles as dull.
Things are a little different when it comes to the Mail, however. The article itself is nearly identical to all of the others, but the major difference is found in the comments. While most other versions of this press release found on other news sites either haven’t received any user comments or don’t even have a comment section available (because it’s a boring press release, what’s to say?), the Mail has notched up 120 comments at the time of writing – two of which I’ve already mentioned above.
120 comments on an article about some new trousers and a couple of dresses.
Now, bearing in mind that Asda’s own PR company have issued this press release to newspapers to generate a bit of interest and publicity around their new clothing range, and also remembering that comments on this particular article’s are premoderated, do you think Asda would be happy to promote their brand alongside comments such as:
Roll up roll up. !! Get your Prayer mats and korans here. Britainistan 2009.
why? there are enough asian clothes shops in the asian no go ghettos
Would a supermarket chain in Pakistan start stocking levi’s and wonderbras if it was the other way around? I wonder whether in a few years’ time we’ll be seeing people putting burkas in their shopping trolleys?
Why? When our local Asda often cannot supply organic milk and free-range chicken for their regular customers!
Notice especially ‘Britainistan’, apparently a witty reinterpretation of Mail columnist Melanie Phillips’ own creation ‘Londonistan’, the association of ‘asians’ and ‘ghettos’, that symbol of tyrannical Islamic oppression the burkha, and the lament for ‘regular customers’, which presumably excludes anyone from Asia and the Indian sub-continent. More, you say? Ok:
I have no objection to ethnic fashion, except on those streets of some of our major cities that have gone completely to the other extreme, stocking little with any appeal to the indigenous population. Wiltshire Resident [another, pro-Asda commenter]should try Bradford if she loves Asian Fashion. She may even feel completely at home there, apart from the fact that large parts look and feel like a foreign country.
Excellent use of the ‘If you love it so much, why don’t you go live there’ argument, alongside a swipe at multiculturalism, and (bingo!) inclusion of BNP buzzword ‘indigenous’. Ok, ok, one more:
Sorry, but isn’t ASDA aware of the existing social problem of Asians failing to integrate ? I believe that this is an ill conceived idea, as our Asian residents should be adopting western clothing as the norm whilst living in the UK.
Ah, the imaginary bugbear of any self-respecting racist, social integration. Because Asians are clearly a problem group when it comes to integrating into British culture as, say, Freddie Mercury (born Farrokh Bulsara), Konnie Huq, Dev Patel, Amir Khan, Melanie Sykes, Krishnan Guru-Murthy, Meera Syal, Hardeep Singh Kohli, Cliff Richard (really!), James Caan (previously Khan), Sanjeev Bhaskar, Monty Panesar, Parminder Nagra, Nasser Hussein, Shobna Gulati, and several million more could testify (apologies to those I may have missed). Bonus points given for calling for ultra authoritarian legislation on foreign residents’ clothing – Asian residents should be forced to wear ‘Western clothing’, whatever that might be precisely. Jeans, probably. Very British.
To their (perhaps dubious) credit, the Mail did simply rehash Asda’s press release just like all the other newspapers, without adding any of their own editorial bias. But to vet, approve and publish comments such as the above is irresponsible at best, and must surely worry companies such as Asda, M&S, and uSwitch, whose brands appear next to poorly informed readers’ bile. Asda, especially, must be worried that a perfectly innocuous press release could be so utterly twisted by commenters, not only to be used as an excuse to express vile, reactionary comments about indigenous this and integration that, but also a reason for a number of commenters to announce an immediate boycott of the store altogether.
Bloggers are all too aware of the onorous responsibility they bear not just for their own posts, but for the comments that appear beneath them. Anyone who writes on the web must accept that, thanks to British libel laws, what’s written by others but hosted by you is your responsibility. If some anonymous commenter libels somebody else, and the target is of a litigious nature, they won’t go after the commenter, they’ll probably sue you.
Most newspapers are aware of this too, and take care to add clauses such as ‘The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.‘ The Mail also have two whole pages of House Rules and Terms & Conditions, forbidding ‘defamatory, malicious, threatening, false, misleading, offensive, abusive, discriminatory, harassing, blasphemous or racist‘ comments. Presumably, then, the comments quoted previously are none of the above, and are perfectly acceptable. But, while they may not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline, I can’t help but wonder whether or not advertisers feel that they create a ’suitable environment’ for brand building.
Categories: Immigration, Media |
Posted by 5cc
August 31st, 2009
Usually, at this time of year, the Mail is busy writing up stories on the back of newly released immigration figures. Last year, we were treated to stories about how many white people were leaving the country, the year before we had big spreads about the number of UK citizens leaving while immigration figures were up. This year, though, the immigration figures were largely positive from a Mail point of view. More foreigners leaving, fewer arriving, fewer UK citizens emigrating and so on. The paper had to focus on the number of children born to mothers who were from overseas to frighten us with instead.
So today’s ‘One out of every five killers is an immigrant‘ looks a little out of place. That may be because it takes three weeks to get a reply from the police to an FOI request and the hack who wrote it was anticipating rather different immigration figures to be published when he made the request.
Whatever the reason for the story, it’s an example of a very common and very misleading tactic that the Mail (along with the Express) engages in when it wants to make us frightened of foreign criminals. You can see the same tactic used in ‘One in six rapes committed by foreign attackers, shock police figures reveal‘ from April this year (although that story was churned directly from the Daily Express) and ‘Foreigners carry out one in every five killings in Britain, police figures reveal‘ from April 2008. You’ll notice that the last article there reveals that the ‘one in five’ figure isn’t actually news, since it was reported over a year ago.
Here’s how the tactic works.
First, the paper contacts every police force in England & Wales and asks for stats showing how many of one crime or another has been committed by foreigners. Then the paper then calculates how this translates into percentages across the UK.
Here’s why the tactic is misleading.
1. Police forces don’t have completely reliable figures for how many foreigners commit crime. All they have is a box for ‘nationality’ on arrest forms, which are voluntary and never checked.
2. Not every police force responds, but the Metropolitan Police always does. The Metropolitan Police arrests more people – and more people who enter something other than British into the ‘nationality’ box on their arrest form than any other force. The current Mail article talks about there being 371 individuals accused of murder or manslaughter last year, with 233 of them being in the Metropolitan Police area. This will completely skew the numbers for the rest of the country, even if they’re proportionate for the London area.
3. The paper does not compare the number of arrests of people who enter something other than British into the ‘nationality’ box on their arrest from in the responses they get to the number of people born overseas in the areas they have replies from. Instead, they compare it with the whole country.
To illustrate this with an extreme hypothetical example – London has an immigrant population of around 30% and arrests more people for murder or manslaughter than any other police force. Let’s say that in one year, the number of homicides in London that people who enter a non-British nationality in their arrest form are completely proportionate to the number of people born overseas in the area – 30%. In that same year, there are no homicides anywhere else in England & Wales. We now have a scary ‘Foreigners commit a third of killings in the UK but only make up 10% of the poplulation’ story. The trouble is – that’s completely proportionate in the actual area those killings took place.
Now, the paper does state that “In London, almost 40 per cent of those in such cases in the past year were from overseas, or of unknown origin,” which would be disproportionate were it not for the fact that the paper has decided to add everyone who didn’t enter anything into the ‘nationality’ box. As the article later reveals, including these people makes the total in London higher than the actual total across the country, which is impossible. Could it be that the hack has included this figure rather than the actual figure because the real one would make it too obvious that this article is misleading?
This ‘get an FOI request from police forces’ tactic will always return a scary looking overall average. Great for frightening the readers with – not so great for actually giving an accurate idea of how many crimes were committed by people from overseas.
Categories: Immigration |
Tags: Immigration, violence | 13 Comments
Posted by Daily Quail
August 21st, 2009
Journalism and statistics go together like Dog the Bounty Hunter on a dinner date with Tolstoy.
Usually, statistics in the Mail come from some press release sent out by a company with a vested interest (if the story’s science related), from a ‘report’ (by the TaxPayers’ Alliance), or from an NGO, quango, or think-tank (if the figures suggest a rise in crime, for example). The figures are often based on Government figures which have been analysed, edited, skewed, and reinterpreted. Such data are processed and packaged into an easy-to-understand, journalist friendly document by one of the third parties mentioned above, that tells the hack everything they need to know, like this: ‘X has gone up by Y, meaning Z’. The journo, who is thankful that they haven’t had to wade through boring old figures themselves, will then pad their stats based article out with quotes and additional information to establish context – or, in most cases, to completely mislead the reader.
Sometimes, though, an ambitious journalist will tire of rewriting pre-compiled reports and studies and decide to go and look at the statistics for themselves. This is a risky thing to do because the journo is well aware of their lack of training in stats and the potential for time-consuming redrafts if they make a mistake. On the plus side, it makes it look like they’re actually doing some research and deserve to get paid. Luckily, Mail hacks don’t have to worry too much about errors because, should they make an appalling mess of things, nobody will actually notice (or care).
Such is the case with Sue Reid’s ‘SPECIAL INVESTIGATION’ on migrant workers and unemployment in today’s Mail, headlined ‘Revealed: The areas where there are more migrants chasing jobs than locals‘. Sue seems quite proud of her data-mining, as there’s a little photo of her looking pleased with herself next to the words ‘SPECIAL INVESTIGATION’. No expense has been spared on art direction either; there’s a picture of a Romanian builder photoshopped into an image of Britain split up into different coloured areas to indicate the number of foreign people looking for jobs in each district. There’s a long column of statistics, and even a pie chart.
The piece begins proudly, ‘The true extent of the huge influx of foreign workers into Britain is revealed in an investigation by the Daily Mail.’ In a line that wouldn’t be out of place in a BNP pamphlet, it adds, ‘The figure[s] expose as a sham the New Labour pledge of ‘British jobs for British workers’.
Sue helpfully explains the methods behind her SPECIAL INVESTIGATION and where she got her numbers from:
[The article] is based on information from each local authority based on two sets of official figures.
The first is the total in each area of National Insurance Numbers given to adult overseas nationals entering the UK during 2008.
The second set of figures is the claimant count for each local authority area in July, compiled from Government statistics released last week.
A claimant is a person on job-seekers’ allowance who is actively trying to find employment. Newly arrived foreigners cannot get this payout.
Unfortunately for Sue, her methodology is catastrophically flawed. She has taken the cumulative total number of National Insurance number (NINo) registrations for the entire financial year 2007-08, and compared it to the number of people claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance (JSA) in the single month of July 2009. Unsurprisingly, this has thrown up figures such as Edinburgh where supposedly the 10,022 ‘local jobseekers’ are outnumbered by 12,450 ‘new migrant workers’.
Basically, Sue has found that there were more foreign people looking for jobs in a 12 month period than there were local people looking for jobs in one month, which is hardly surprising is it? And that’s ignoring the fact that using figures from two different financial years, which were experiencing vastly different economic climates, is somewhat questionable.
Her second failure is to compare a cumulative, stable figure with an average, changing figure. She tells us that in 2008 there were 733,090 new NINos given to migrants, the number she uses to compare against the number of JSA claimants in July 2009. This 733,090 includes everyone given an NI number between April 2007 and March 2008, many of whom, obviously, will already have found work and therefore will not be competing with the locals looking for work in July 09 – a whole two years later. While NINo registrants will have been entering into work during that period, thereby removing themselves from the fluctuating pool of people competing for jobs, many of the JSA claimants in any given month will the same people who were claiming the month before, and, chances are, the month afterwards. It is quite clear that comparing the two statistics is completely and utterly redundant; you might as well compare the number of motorbike accidents in 1972 with global temperature increases during 1990-1995. The relationship is meaningless.
Let’s be fair to Sue, because I can see what she was trying to do, and the Office for National Statistics website is a bit confusing. Let’s say the comparison between NINos and claimants is valid, and let’s assume that not a single new NINo registrant managed to find a job during Apr-Jul 07 (the first quarter of the 2008 financial year). In that period, the national total number of NINos was 166,133. The average national number of JSA claimants over that same quarter was 887,757*, meaning that, actually, there are five times as many ‘local people’ looking for work than there are migrant workers. If we look at the latest period for which data is available (Oct-Dec 08), the ratio of local workers to migrants actually increases to 6:1, and the number of NINos granted to foreign workers decreases to 134,800. Is this the influx mentioned at the beginning?
How about the particular regions in which migrants supposedly outnumber local jobseekers? (I acknowledge that I’m taking a rather liberal attitude to statistics at this point, but, when you’re forced to compare apples with oranges, somethings got to give.) One of the ‘worst’ named areas in the article is Brent, where the Mail tells us that 19,240 migrant workers were given a NINo in 2008. In that same year, there were, on average, 6,647 JSA claimants each month. If we divide that 19,240 total NINo figure by 12 we find the average number of new migrant workers in any one month – 1,603. Looking at an average month in isolation and assuming that the previous months new NINo registrants and jobseekers all found jobs, that means there are actually four times as many local jobseekers than migrants.
Even using her own massively flawed methodology, it’s abundantly clear that there are not more migrant workers looking for jobs than British people doing the same. Sue Reid is the blacksmith of statistics, bashing blindly away at data until it transforms into something else, unrecognisable from the original materials. The question is why, when migrant jobseeker numbers are actually falling, does The Mail want people to think they’re rising?
* ONS data from NOMIS. Let me know if you’d like an .xls copy of the figures (I can’t imagine why you would though)
Categories: Immigration |