Posted by dnotice
October 3rd, 2011
You may be aware that Amanda Knox has been cleared of murder.
However, if you’d stumbled upon the Daily Mail’s website, you would have thought otherwise.
This was published on the Mail’s website as soon as the judge said “Guilty”. However, he was referring to her being “guilty” of defamation, not murder.
Nevertheless, it appears that whoever publishes articles on the Mail’s website jumped the gun. A piece went up with the URL slug-words: Amanda-Knox-verdict-GUILTY-appeal-murder-conviction-rejected.
The artice has since been removed, but a screenshot was taken by @syn for posterity.
While it has captions including “Media scum”, what it interesting is that the Mail’s erroneous article has “quotes” from the prosecution.
The killer paragraph is:
Prosecutors were delighted with the verdict and said “Justice has been done” although they said on a “human factor it was sad two young people would be spending years in jail“
Clearly they would only make such comments upon there being a guilty verdict. Even ignoring the fact that she was innocent and so the quotes would never have been made, the timing of the article on its own (8:50 p.m.) would suggest that the “quotes” are fake.
Categories: Media, News |
Posted by Dave Cross
September 28th, 2011
[This is cross-posted from davblog]
It’s not often that you can trace a tabloid meme back to its beginnings. Over the last week we’ve seen the birth of a new tabloid meme and, luckily, we’re able to see where it comes from.
Here’s the seed. It’s from the Frequently Asked Questions page on the BBC Religion religion web site.
Why does bbc.co.uk/religion use BCE and CE instead of BC and AD?
In line with modern practice bbc.co.uk/religion uses BCE/CE (Before Common Era/Common Era) as a religiously neutral alternative to BC/AD. As the BBC is committed to impartiality it is appropriate that we use terms that do not offend or alienate non-Christians.
There is something important to notice here. From reading the answer to question, it’s clear that it’s only talking about the BBC Religion web site – this is not a BBC-wide policy. Also note that this page has been there for some time. There’s nothing at all that indicates that this is a new rule. But that’s not how it seemed to various Mail columnists.
In the Mail on Sunday on 18th Septamber, Peter Hitchins wrote this:
The BBC’s Chief Commissar for Political Correctness (whom I imagine as a tall, stern young woman in cruel glasses issuing edicts from an austere office) was hard at work again last week.
On University Challenge, Jeremy Paxman referred to a date as being Common Era, rather than AD. This nasty formulation is designed to write Christianity out of our culture. Given the allegedly ferocious Mr Paxman’s schoolgirlish, groupie-like treatment of various prominent atheists in recent interviews, maybe he favours this far-from-impartial view.
I’m guessing that Hitchens just happened to be watching University Challenge, got annoyed by the use of “Common Era” and decided to use it at the end of his column to have a little go at the BBC. It probably wouldn’t have gone any further if it wasn’t for James Delingpole.
On Saturday Delingpole wrote a piece for the Mail entitled “How the BBC fell for a Marxist plot to destroy civilisation from within”. I swear I’m not making this up. The piece reads like something from The Onion but, amazingly, he seems to be completely serious. It’s Delingpole who links Hitchens’ annoyance to the FAQ page I quoted above. He writes:
No longer will [The BBC's] website refer to those bigoted, Christian-centric concepts AD (as in Anno Domini – the Year of Our Lord) and BC (Before Christ). From now on, it will use initials which strip our traditional Gregorian calendar of its offensive religious context. All reference to Christ has been expunged, replaced by the terms CE (Common Era) and BCE (Before Common Era).
But the BBC isn’t doing this because it has been flooded with complaints, you understand. Nor is it responding to public demand. No, as it primly explains on the Q&A page on the section of its website bbc.co.uk/religion, it is doing it to be ‘in line with modern practice’.
He’s getting it completely wrong, of course. As we’ve already established, the FAQ page is only talking about a single section section of the BBC’s web site. But Delingpole isn’t a man who ever lets facts stand in the way of a good rant. Building on a non-existent foundation he spins a magnificent conspiracy theory about pernicious left wingers destroying the British way of life.
Then, on Sunday, Chris Hastings ties it all together, building on Hitchens’ annoyance, the BBC FAQ and Delingpole’s rantings to produce a front-page story with the headline “BBC turns its back on year of Our Lord: 2,000 years of Christianity jettisoned for politically correct ‘Common Era’”.
But, of course, the story doesn’t stand up to the slightest scrutiny. In fact it is full of internal contradictions.
The Corporation has replaced the familiar Anno Domini (the year of Our Lord) and Before Christ with the obscure terms Common Era and Before Common Era.
A bold statement which is rather shown up by the following sentence which admits that University Challenge and In Our Time “are among the growing number of shows using the new descriptions” – indication that the BBC’s evil plan isn’t quite as advanced as Hastings would like us to think. It’s also interesting that he uses the phrase “new descriptions” as the terms have been around for 150 years.
If you get to the end of the article, he has asked the BBC for a statement on the issue. They say:
The BBC has not issued editorial guidance on the date systems.
Both AD and BC, and CE and BCE are widely accepted date systems and the decision on which term to use lies with individual production and editorial teams.
A lesser man would have realised that this statement completely overturns the argument of the article and may even have thought better of submitting the story. Hastings, however, knows that most Mail readers don’t get past the first couple of paragraphs of a story and decided to press ahead safe in the knowledge that very few people would get to the end and realise the embarrassing truth. And it seems he was right to do so, as this story currently has over 1,500 comments, the vast majority of which are from people who obviously didn’t get far past the headline.
I thought that would have been the end of it, but this nonsense now seems to have gone viral. Yesterday the Mail published “Our language is being hijacked by the Left to muzzle rational debate” by Melanie Phillips (don’t read it – really, you have been warned) and “The BBC just loath anything that smacks of tradition” by Reverend Peter Mullen. Neither of these articles show any evidence of the authors having taken any time to investigate the story at all. The story has also moved beyond the Mail and has been covered by other papers like the Telegraph.
So there you have it. The birth of a new anti-BBC meme. One throwaway remark from a Mail writer and within a week the BBC is under attack for something that it hasn’t done. Well done Peter Hitchens. And the brilliant thing (as far as the Mail is concerned) is that the BBC is in a lose-lose situation here. If programmes stop using BC and AD then the paranoia of the Mail will be proved correct. If, however, (as seems far more likely) a mixture of the two systems continue to be used as it has been for several years, then the Mail will be able to point out every use of BC and AD as a triumph for its campaign.
One more nail in the coffin of rational debate in this country.
P.S. For more detail on the story see these two great posts over on Tabloid Watch.
Update: I’ve just seen this in an old article on the Daily Mail site:
A comparison of this latest finding with city walls and gates from the period of the First Temple, as well as pottery found at the site, enable us to postulate with a great degree of assurance that the wall that has been revealed is that which was built by King Solomon in Jerusalem in the latter part of the 10th century BCE.
And, you know what, not a ripple of complaint in the comments.
Categories: Media |
Posted by Tim Ireland
August 5th, 2011
A small group of liberal elitists behind The Sun: Tabloid Lies, Mail Watch, Express Watch and other personal attacks on common sense and decency will be meeting for a London-centric Chardonnay-quaffing* session at The Monarch in Camden at 2:30pm on Saturday 6th August, 2011.
Members of the public are invited to attend, provided they are not operating under the constraints of an imaginary legal device.
Those attending may be exposed to furtive whispers about media standards as a spectacle, media-watching as a sport, and other aspects of the vast left wing conspiracy to impose accuracy and accountability on a self-regulated system that’s doing just fine without our incessant meddling.
[*There may be some drinking of popular colas and lager beer, purely for the sake of appearances, should a photo opportunity arise. PS - bring a camera.]
Media Watch Meet-up
6th August 2011
The Monarch in Camden:
Bags will be searched for pie.
Categories: Media |
Posted by 5cc
November 1st, 2010
This was originally posted at www.fivechinesecrackers.com, where I’ll be selecting a dodgy tabloid story for the award on the last Saturday of every month.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s here. It’s…
…the 5cc tabloid bullshit of the month award.
This has been a short month for me since I’ve been away for half of it, but I’ve been paying attention to blogs and keeping my eye out for particularly good bullshit. I considered breaking the rules for the first award and presenting it to MigrationWatch for being particularly rubbish this month, but rules is rules so MigrationWatch just get a raspberry blown in their direction.
Actual tabloid contenders included:
- Most of the tabloids and the Telegraph pretending an extractor fan had to be removed because of Muslims
- Most of the tabloids pretending Aldi had banned poppies
- Most of the tabloids blarting on about BBC presenters wearing their poppies too early
- The Mail for it’s head poppingly stupid attempt to link Ed Miliband and Joe Stalin
- The Daily Star for every front page headline they’ve ever printed, ever
The winner was a version of another story that was picked up and churned everywhere, but some coverage was better than others. The Sun even managed to report this story properly, something that the Telegraph, The Mail, The Express, The Star and to an extent the Mirror all failed to do.
It’s the ‘the Muslims are invading and Mohammed is the most popular name and they’re trying to keep it a secret‘ nonsense.
The tough part is choosing which of the many, many versions should win. Runner up is the Telegraph, which nearly sneaked a win for laughably trying to pretend that Mohammed is secretly the most popular boy’s name. But the winner of the 5cc tabloid bullshit of the month award, for the reasons outlined in the email below, is:
Mohammed is now the most popular name for baby boys ahead of Jack and Harry, by Daily Mail hack, Jack Doyle.
Here’s the email:
Dear Mr Doyle,
I am very pleased, not to mention proud, to announce that your story ‘Mohammed is now the most popular name for baby boys ahead of Jack and Harry‘ is the recipient of journalism’s newest prize. Break out the party poppers!
Your story, chosen for being such an excellent example of tabloid reporting prowess, is the winner of the first ever 5cc tabloid bullshit of the month award, presented by me at Five Chinese Crackers. In such a crowded field with all the crap tabloids and the Telegraph covering the same thing it was a tough choice, but your version beat even the Telegraph’s, which pretended not only that Mohammed was the most popular boy’s name, but that it was a secret.
Here’s why your version won:
- It’s a crap trick. Adding together 12 variations of a name and saying the official list has Mohammed at number 16 without pointing out that the official list doesn’t add any variations of names together is just a bit dishonest.
- As is not bothering to mention exactly how popular a name Mohammed is among Muslims.
- Or that altogether, boys named every variation of Mohammed made up around just 2% of all boys. Actually, the number of boys named all variations of Mohammed actually took a slight drop since last year, but you didn’t mention that either.
- It’s an old crap trick. I was mentioning it on my blog back in 2007, when the trick made it look as though Mohammed was the second most popular boy’s name.
- It scaremongers unnecessarily about Muslims.
- The Mail was probably the first paper to pull the trick this year. Blogs were already calling bullshit on the story a day before any other paper has dated its version. Yours is dated the 28th too, but that could just be when you rewrote the copy originally provided by someone else. That would be more tragic when you think about it, your name on an embarassingly crap scaremongering trick that you didn’t even pull yourself.
- Even the Sun managed to report this story properly.
The prize is essentially a crap drawing of an award, but you will now be in contention for the 5cc tabloid bullshitter of the year award 2011. You’ve got 14 months to get as many monthly prizes as possible to be a winner, so keep up the good work!
Various bloggers pointed out how crap your old trick was. These include: TabloidWatch, Enemies of Reason, No Sleep ‘Til Brooklands and Primly Stable (twice).
If you’d like to make an acceptance comment, reply to this email and I’ll publish it at Five Chinese Crackers. In the meantime, you might want to look at this post I published on my blog a while back. You might also want to add ’scaremonger about the number of ethnic minority babies being born like I did earlier this year’ to the list of stuff I mention there.
Anyway, well done. Give yourself a lolly.
So, there we go. That’s it for this month. If you spot any really choice bullshit in the coming month, email a link to fivechinesecrackers [AT] gmail [DOT] com, or DM me @5ChinCrack on twitter, and I’ll consider it.
Categories: Media, Religion |
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 sim-o
September 9th, 2010
If you’ve got a Facebook account you’ve got a serious choice to make.
Where do you book yourself into first? The oncologist, the school or the pyschotherapist?
Not only does Facebook give you cancer, it doesn’t just make you stupid (as does anything else that distracts from studying), it also means that you’re narcissistic with low self esteem. Apparently.
Using Facebook is the online equivalent of staring at yourself in the mirror, according to a study.
Is it? Is it, really?
This conclusion is arrived at from a study, of which at least they give some details of.
So what did the study consist of?
They [the subjects] all took psychology tests to measure their levels of narcissism, which the study defined as ‘a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and an exaggerated sense of self-importance’.
Those who scored higher on the narcissism test checked their Facebook pages more often each day than those who did not.
There was also a difference between men and women – men generally promoted themselves by written posts on their Facebook page while women tended to carefully select the pictures in their profile.
As we all could’ve guessed without a study, the narcissistic people checked Facebook more often, which isn’t quite the same as the headline…
Facebook users ‘are insecure, narcissistic and have low self-esteem’
Which suggests that all facebook users have those qualities. Not misleading at all is it?
Oh, the size of the study? 100 18-25 year old students. 100 out of 500 million of the most narcissistic, insecure users of Facebook.
Categories: Media |
Tags: facebook, misleading headline | 9 Comments
Posted by Esqui
December 17th, 2009
On Tuesday, the Daily Express published an article entitled Climate Change is natural: 100 reasons why. Of course, we’ve come to expect differing views on climate change from some of the media (as well we should on any major world issue), but this article was not only on scientifically dodgy ground, the article itself is of a pretty poor journalistic standard as much of it is padding, hypocrisy or downright irrelevant. I’m not going to do much debunking of the scientific points raised, the New Scientist has done much of that already (and it’s well worth a read), but I will give some other reasons as to why the article is not what the Express was hoping it to be, and why many readers left comments such as “my 14 year old neighbour kid is able to disprove more than 50% of this so called arguments why climate change would be natural…”
Firstly, hypocrisy: This revolves around point 8 –
“The IPCC theory is driven by just 60 scientists and favourable reviewers not the 4,000 usually cited.”
Assuming this to be true, we are told to discount man-made climate change because only 60 people have written in favour of it. The overwhelming implication is that climate change does not exist except in the minds of a minority of scientists, and that most scientists don’t believe it. Now let’s look at some other Daily Express reasons. How about points 12, 13, 15, 16, 21, 57, 61, 62, 63, 64, 70 and 76? What do these all have in common? The Express cites just one person as evidence for these theories, among them such non-experts as Denis Lilley MP, and Lord Lawson. Either we are to accept that evidence from one person is true, in which case the Express’ suggestion that 60 people is not evidence enough is not valid, or that over a tenth of the article can be discounted because ‘not enough’ people have supported the opinions.
Next – irrelevance: Some of the points bear no resemblance on the climate issue today. The quote from Peter Lilley (point 13) would seem to suggest that climate change is not natural because fewer British people believe in it. This would be good if what British people believed actually happened. Several million kids believe in Santa, doesn’t make him real (sorry if I just spoilt that for you). Others, such as point 29, state things such as “The climate was hottest 7000 years ago”. Again, bearing no relevance to today’s issue.
Next up, the problem of repetition: This is where much of the article falls down. As an example, read points 3, 5, 33 and 85. All of these are different ways of saying “CO2 levels were higher in the past”, and reading through the article brings up more topics which seem to be repeated. The Express also seems to have used the copy/paste function more than once, with many points having the exact same wording, for example the number of points beginning “The “Climate-gate” scandal revealed that a scientific team…” – which is rather lazy journalism, if nothing else.
We also have arguments which seem to contradict the main point of the article: Point 88 intrigued me in this way. It says that CO2 has changed throughout history, and yet has been growing since the industrial revolution, and is still in constant growth. Again, I’m not arguing about the scientific content as that’s already been done, but I’m quite sure that one of the main points in favour of anthropogenic climate change is rising CO2 levels from industry.
And finally, a lot of the “reasons” are not reasons at all. Much of the article contains things which aren’t arguments against man-made climate change at all. Take for example points 40, 43, 44 and 45. These all mention that increasing CO2 levels are good in some way, for example, promoting crop growth. Try reading these in relation to the title: “Climate change is natural because… The increase of the air’s CO2 content has probably helped lengthen human lifespans since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution”. One does not follow from the other. Another example here, would be the government-bashing point 60. What they’re saying with that is: “Climate change is natural because…The UK ’s environmental policy has a long-term price tag of about £55 billion, before taking into account the impact on its economic growth.” The cost of the UK’s environmental policy has no bearing on whether climate change is natural or man-made. The final one which caught my eye was point 79:
“Since the cause of global warming is mostly natural, then there is in actual fact very little we can do about it. (We are still not able to control the sun).”
As anyone with even a grasp of persuasive writing would attest, giving arguments which already assume the point you’re trying to put across is useless. It’s akin to saying “Because I say so” (which I’m surprised is not one of the points).
The Express feature is clearly designed to provide those who are sceptical about man-made climate change with some back-up of their views. The article looks like was titled before it was written – it’s a great premise, but the writer has not been able to find 100 reasons why climate change is natural. Instead, what has been published are a couple of reasons why climate change is natural (repeated numerous times), several facts about how hot the temperature was a few thousand years ago, some appropriate quotes from individuals who either have no scientific standing or only their own, possibly unverified research to draw on, and an overwhelming number of completely irrelevant points which are somewhat to do with climate change.
So why is there such a bias against man-made climate change in some papers? The answer, in my opinion is simple: they are reassuring their readers that their current lives are OK, and they’ve no need to change. The Mail, especially, is read by a huge number of people who are well-off and successful. Those same people might well be put off by their newspaper of choice telling them that what they’re doing could bring about major negative changes in their lives unless they inconvenience themselves to stop it. Climate is a hot topic (pardon the pun), and as with any such issue, there will be people on both sides. Some papers have picked up on this (on both sides of the question), and have been looking for any research which supports the views they want to put across to their readers (who want, in turn, to be able to justify their choices to others), and ignore anything in the research that could negate the point they’ve taken from it.
But whatever side a paper aligns itself with, there is no substitute for well-researched, well-thought-out articles. The Express took a gamble here, coming up with the premise of 100 reasons, and such features have worked (especially for the Independent), but here, the content was not up to the headline. It’s a commendable idea, but without being able to fully support the headline, the Express has fallen short.
However, we should note that it hasn’t failed completely. It’s aim was to give those sceptical to anthropogenic climate change a myriad points to back up and confirm their views, and maybe even convert a few undecideds. Which it will undoubtedly have done.
Categories: Environment, Media, News |
Posted by sim-o
December 13th, 2009
It’s Sunday evening and that can mean only one thing. No, I don’t mean X-Factor. It’s the second Mailwatch weekly roundup.
5CC and Anton both look into what, exactly, was Kwarsi Kwarteng defending in Rod Liddles’s Speccy article.
5CC carries on to look at what happens when one of the Daily Mails favourite myths turn out to be untrue. I’ll give you a hint, it involves fingers in ears and the words ‘la la la’.
Anton wonders if Andrew Alexander reads his own paper, and if so believes what it prints and has a little more proof that the Mail has it’s own one sided narrative, while noticing who the Mail decided would be better to go to to help Cadburys’ fend of a takeover.
Elsewhere, Tabloidwatch has some notes about the pay of the Mails’ top man, Dacre, Pickled Politics talks about persecuted Christians and Charlie Becket has some thoughts on copyright issues raised by a Mail article about ‘moneyfacing’.
One last late link, Random Blowe explains, in detail, why it bothers him that his parents read the Daily Mail.
Categories: Media |
Posted by sim-o
December 6th, 2009
Welcome to the new Mailwatch weekly round-up. Every week you’ll get some links to some posts about the antics of the Daily Mail – Some from our editors’ own sites and some from elsewhere.
So, without further ado…
5 Chinese Crackers has a couple of posts, the first, and there’s gonna be a lot of these about this time of year, is about Christmas still not being banned and the second is a quickie in response to a question posed by Sue Reid.
The Daily Quail has a despatch from their international correspondent regarding healthcare and Littlejohn (unfortunately the NHSs’ ‘death panel’ didn’t get to him… this time). The Quail also got all mysogynistic on us with lots of pictures of lovely young ladies as an excuse to write about a woman that died after some surgery.
Enemies of Reason, this week, started off in the ’70s and ends with a post that sniffs out something horrible.
From elsewhere we have Upon Nothing discussing a new Berlin wall in er, Borough of all places and the Guardians’ Bike Blog reports on a so-called ‘zombie cyclists‘.
That’s it for the first round up. Don’t forget, We’re on Twitter and we also have a forum, too.
Categories: Media |