Posted by Tim Ireland
October 3rd, 2011
Amanda Knox has just been found not guilty of murdering her room-mate Meredith Kercher. An Italian court upheld her appeal against a 26-year sentence, and similarly overturned a 25-year sentence imposed on her ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito.
Below is a screen capture from an article published by the Daily Mail soon after the verdict. This article by Nick Pisa was clearly published in error, as it declared that both Knox & Sollecito were found guilty, when nothing like this happened:
But what is more significant is that we know this article was prepared in advance of an event that no-one at the Daily Mail could possibly have witnessed… which means that Nick Pisa and the relevant editing staff at the Daily Mail were prepared to print the following eyewitness accounts as if they were genuine, when everyone involved with preparing this article must have known that they described events that had yet to happen:
“Amanda Knox looked stunned this evening after she dramatically lost her prison appeal against her murder conviction….”
“As Knox realized the enormity of what judge Hellman was saying she sank into her chair sobbing uncontrollably while her family and friends hugged each other in tears.”
“A few feet away Meredith’s mother Arline, her sister Stephanie and brother Lyle, who had flown in especially for the verdict remained expressionless, staring straight ahead, glancing over just once at the distraught Knox family.”
In the same article, the Daily Mail of all papers has the temerity to sniff at the “media circus” around the trial; one caption even labels them ’scum’. But I can only see one ‘news’ paper inventing reactions from the prosecution following an event that never happened:
Prosecutors were delighted with the verdict and said that ‘justice has been done’ although they said on a ‘human factor it was sad two young people would be spending years in jail’.
The Daily Mail even give a full account of events that didn’t follow the event that didn’t happen:
Following the verdict Knox and Sollecito were taken out of court escorted by prison guards and into a waiting van which took her back to her cell at Capanne jail near Perugia and him to Terni jail, 60 miles away.
This is a clear-cut case of entirely invented detail that cannot be explained away as part of any standard verdict-preparedness process. In fact, it goes well beyond the ‘X actually said this to my face’ antics of Johann Hari, but I doubt very much if we will see Nick Pisa admitting to any wrongdoing or offering to attend journalism school anytime soon.
UPDATE (4/10/11 10:28): Tim emails Nick Pisa for a quote.
Categories: News |
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 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 Esqui
October 14th, 2009
By now, we are all used to the Mail’s celebrity obsessions. From Angelina Jolie to Natalie Cassidy, the paper never seems short of bitchy non-stories to print about them, simply in order to comment on the large, or short, size of their bodies, type of clothing and who they’re with. But there’s one person who is constantly featured in stories that is quite worrying: Suri Cruise.
Now it’s quite likely, if you don’t read the Mail, that you’ll have no idea who that is – though you may recognise the surname. Suri Cruise is the three-year-old daughter of actors Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. She’s famous for….being the three-year-old daughter of actors Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. And yet the Daily Mail sees fit to print pictures of her going about her everyday life on a regular basis.
A quick check on the Mail’s website would reveal 8 stories in the last 3 weeks alone (2 on the 12th October !), featuring such newsworthy stories as Suri playing hide and seek and a downright disturbing article inviting the reader to scrutinise the child’s ‘kitten heels’. In fact, using the Mail’s own “Explore Suri Cruise” (the irony of the page name is not lost on me) reveals that in her three years, Suri has been referred to in no fewer than 81 stories.
But surely it’s all innocent fun, right? After all, she’s only a kid – isn’t the Mail simply reporting on the frivolities of the daughter of two famous actors as she tries to go about a life within the shadow of her parents’ fame? Sometimes, this is true. A number of the stories are along the lines of “Doesn’t she look like her mother?”, such as here in what is, by the Mail’s standards, a rather reserved story about the girl. But those stories are generally outnumbered by the ones that focus on what Suri is wearing, complete with an unnecessary amount of pictures, some of which are in dubious taste. For example, you can almost hear the photographer calling out to a young woman just out of her teens: “Show us a bit of inside leg!” “Now let’s see you with something all over your face”. But Suri Cruise is not that. She’s not even of schooling age yet.
This highlights another area of Mail hypocrisy. Whilst the paper, in one breath, makes a story about this particular three-year-old wearing high heels and designer dresses – note the suggestive comment: “How soon will it be before she gets her first boyfriend?” – in the other breath, they are berating Heelarious high heels for young children for turning infants into sex objects. The fact is, they are in danger of turning Suri Cruise into exactly that. One can only assume that the intensity of the articles will increase as she gets older and closer to adulthood, when the stories will lose a little more reserve. Take a look at this story about Emma Watson published when she was just 17, or this article about Mick Jagger’s daughter, Gerorgia – again, 17.
And then there are sometimes stories which are inexcusable. Take a look at this. Is it really necessary to publish a story about a three year old girl bursting in to tears because she’s bored? To me, making ‘news’ out of pictures of a child in distress is far beyond what the Mail should be publishing.
But how much blame lies with the Mail itself? After all, do parents not have to give permission to have pictures of their children published? The Mail itself decries such a rule, presumably for this very reason. So, surely it would seem that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes would have to agree to the publication? Maybe so, but let’s not forget that the Mail is not taking these pictures, but merely buying them from an agency. In most cases, this is BigPicturesPhoto, a company that specialises in paparazzi photos. So while Cruise and Holmes may agree to allow them to use a certain set of photos about Suri, they’ve got no way of knowing what stories will pop up surrounding them. But it would seem that they don’t mind at all. Tom Cruise was quoted as saying, to the Australian Grazia magazine:
“’I have to say some of those paparazzi shots of my daughter are incredible. As a parent you protect your children but Suri is a very open and warm child and she will just wave to people on the street. She is such happy, fun girl. It is certainly different these days with the media, but people have been very good to us and do give us space so I am not going to be difficult”
Maybe it’s because I’m not used to a level of fame like Tom Cruise, but the level of material published about his child doesn’t strike me as the media being good to them and giving them space.
I suppose we should pay heed to the PCC code of conduct, which has guidelines on involving children in published material. Clause 6 (excluding paragraphs which refer exclusively to school pupils) states:
ii) A child under 16 must not be interviewed or photographed on issues involving their own or another child’s welfare unless a custodial parent or similarly responsible adult consents.
iv) Minors must not be paid for material involving children’s welfare, nor parents or guardians for material about their children or wards, unless it is clearly in the child’s interest.
v) Editors must not use the fame, notoriety or position of a parent or guardian as sole justification for publishing details of a child’s private life.
And under the section on privacy:
i) Everyone is entitled to respect for his or her private and family life, home, health and correspondence, including digital communications. Editors will be expected to justify intrusions into any individual’s private life without consent.
ii) It is unacceptable to photograph individuals in a private place without their consent.
Taking these as they’re written (and the commission, being mostly made up of those involved in the printed media would do exactly that), the Mail is technically doing nothing wrong. Clearly, they’ve managed to wedge themselves in a place where what they are doing is morally on rocky ground, but legally and under the PCC code of conduct, absolutely fine.
It seems even the readers are getting wise to it. Looking at the comments on the story about Suri bursting into tears, we have:
“maybe shes sick & tired of having her photograph taken for newspapers everyday !!!!!
- zoe, uk, 3/10/2009 14:43”
“This is getting weird, why is this family in the news virtually every day? Leave this little girl alone to have a childhood!
- Jenny, Dorset, 3/10/2009 13:00”
“PLEASE TAKE YOUR CAMERAS OUT OF HER FACE AND LEAVE THIS CHILD BE.
WHY ARE YOU STALKING HER?
- mark, Manchester, 3/10/2009 13:50”
But while the Mail publishes stories like this, they will get comments like this:
“If you don’t like Suri or don’t want to read about her, just don’t open this page and don’t comment on it, it’s just simple! no one force you to read. I want to see her picture because she’s the cute one delight me, nothing to do with her parents, and my friends like her too…that’s why i read about her all the time.
- wantMOREofSuri, Melbourne, 14/10/2009 15:17”
A spoof? Maybe. But is that likely to stop the Mail’s continuing search for ever-more-creepy stories about Suri Cruise? She may be the offspring of famous people, but she is still a three-year-old child having pictures of herself being printed almost daily, many of which invite readers to scrutinise her clothing and appearance. If this is the case, you have to fear for the kid’s future.
Categories: Media, News |
Posted by 5cc
April 14th, 2009
Via Uponnothing comes a story about the Mail being less than truthful about the death of a teenage girl.
There are two main threads to the story that the Mail picks up on. From the local paper we learn that although the death of the girl looks very much like suicide, the Deputy Coroner rules that out as the cause. Apparently:
Deputy coroner Christine Freedman, recording an open verdict, ruled that there was no evidence to conclude that it was suicide.
She told the hearing at Ashford last Thursday : “This is a tragic case of a young girl who appears to have died as a result of hanging herself.
“I have found nothing that could really give a clue as to why this might have happened”
So, no suicide. Maybe a tragic accident, but the Deputy Coroner has ruled out suicide as the cause. That’s the first thread.
The second thread is this:
The inquest heard that some time before her death Georgina had had a row with two Astor schoolgirls who had gone to confront her at her school..
But that didn’t happen because staff intervened and Georgina believed the quarrel was finished, the inquest heard.
It seems that there was going to be a spat with a couple of girls from another school, which came to nothing because of staff intervention. Nothing to spark a suicide, it would seem.
By the time the story makes the Mail, it becomes ‘Grammar schoolgirl, 14, found hanged after row with pupils from nearby comprehensive‘, which neatly packages the story for the Mail’s audience as one of middle class girl hounded to her death by the savage lower classes. Great.
In this version of the story:
A girl at a top grammar school was found hanged amid fears she was bullied by pupils from a nearby comprehensive.
Georgina Williams, 14, was discovered in her bedroom by her parents at their £750,000 home in Dover following a feud with a group of girls said to be ‘after her’.
Messages posted by friends on the social networking website Bebo suggested Georgina may have been intimidated and upset in the run-up to her death.
Although the paper is careful not to use the word ’suicide’, except to say that no suicide note was found, and although the paper includes quotes from police later in the article to suggest that they thought nothing of the incident with pupils from the comprehensive, we’ve already been led to believe that the girl committed suicide. And those Bebo ‘friends’ appear to be firends of friends, who didn’t know her that well.
The Mail has form in misreporting suicides when it would make a better story. The PCC has upheld complaints about the paper moving a death forward in time by a year to fit it in with a spate of suicides in Wales; the paper reporting that a man had committed suicide the day after seeing his baby’s scan; and the paper saying a man had killed his wife and committed suicide when that wasn’t the case. There are others, and the Mail’s angle made a better story than the truth in all these.
And this one, it seems.
Get over and read Uponnothing’s take on this at the Angry Mob for more detail.
Categories: News |
Tags: suicide | 12 Comments