Monday, 30 August 2010


The latest migration figures have, predictably, led to a flurry of newspaper articles, not all of them entirely accurate.

Exclarotive looks at a misleading Mail headline while Five Chinese Crackers looks at the article that followed. He has also written two posts looking into claims about England's population density and an earlier piece in the Mail linking immigration to crime.

The discovery of the body of spy Gareth Williams has led to a lot of guesswork from journalists. Minority Thought looks at some of the speculation from the Sun ('it was al-Qaeda') and the Mail, while Primly Stable 'learns' that Williams:

was stabbed, poisoned and strangled to death by a gay-slaying Al-Qaeda agent who was a colleague and a friend and police fear that secrets that were not stolen from his flat could be sold to Britain's enemies.

It's not surprising that Williams' uncle criticised the speculation:

"When you have these rumours in the papers, it is most distressing. It is heartbreaking that he has died so young and his family have enough on their plate without having to read these stories.

"Gareth's parents are not doing well at all. They are in a state of shock and struggling to come to terms with what has happened. They have seen what has been in the papers and they are very, very upset about these untruths."

Unfortunately, as with the Stephen Griffiths case in May, the media seems to relish spreading lurid gossip rather than sticking to the facts.

Indeed, Matt Lucas has launched a legal action against the Daily Mail for an intrusive and untrue article about the death of his former civil partner Kevin McGee:

Lucas contends that close relatives and friends quoted in the story did not make the statements attributed to them and that much of the information was false.

The story claimed Lucas was planning to have a big birthday party. According to the writ, Lucas had already told friends and family he would not celebrate his birthday this year and was out of the country at the time.

The writ said Lucas was particularly distressed by allegations that he blamed himself for McGee’s death and was hosting a party to “let go of the pain”. Both claims were untrue, it said.

Lucas, who instructed London law firm Schillings to act on his behalf, said Associated Newspapers, owner of the Mail, had refused to apologise or accept the story should not have been published.

Meanwhile, the Mirror, Mail and Express have been making exaggerated claims about grapefruit, as Minority Thought reports. The Express' headline stated 'Eat grapefruit to fight off diabetes' although Jo Willey's article later admitted:

to get the beneficial effect, someone would need to eat 400 grapefruits in one sitting.

Moreover, NHS Behind the Headlines pointed out that:

consuming too much grapefruit can interfere with people’s drug treatment and cause harmful effects.

While the Express loves miracle cure stories, the Mail website loves articles pointing out a famous person has lost/gained too much weight. The paper asks today 'Why ARE women so unhappy in their own skin?' (own?). Maybe some of their recent articles, as highlighted by Angry Mob, are to blame?

At Enemies of Reason, Anton has written three posts about mental health. While the Sun has tried to avoid 'bonkers' by using 'zany', 'weird' and 'wacky' instead, the Star has no such qualms about using the word, splashing it all over the front page.

Also from Anton, a post about a Sun front page story reporting a crocodile sighting in the English Channel. Having written two sensationalist articles about the 'killer croc' the Sun should have admitted that it was, in fact, a piece of wood. But it appears to have forgotten to set the record straight.

It's not the only bit of forgetfulness from a Murdoch-owned paper. George Eaton at New Statesman explains how The Times' readers might not have seen the criticisms of Sky from BBC Director-General Mark Thompson during his speech at the Edinburgh Festival because of the paper's selective, partial reporting.

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