Thursday, 30 June 2011

Cake: it doesn't cure dementia

Yesterday's Daily Express carried the surprising headline:

Yes, really. Cake 'cure' for dementia.

Here's the paper's health correspondent Jo Willey:

Scientists are hailing an everyday cooking spice as a possible cure for Alzheimer’s – after finding clues in the Bible.

They say cinnamon, used in everything from cakes to curries, could be the “holy grail” in slowing or even eradicating dementia in patients.

An extract in cinnamon bark called CEppt was given in ­liquid form to mice and fruit flies bred with Alzheimer’s. After four months, the diseased creatures were said to have shown “remarkably” normal “activity levels and longevity”.

So it's not actually a 'cake cure' and as it has not been tested on humans, it may not be a cure at all.

At the end of the article, there's a tell-tale quote from the Alzheimer's Society:

“Although these results look promising in mice and fruit flies, it’s too soon to know what effect it would have in people.

“We wouldn’t recommend stocking up on cinnamon doughnuts just yet. The amount needed to have any hope would far exceed that in an everyday diet.”

Another statement from the Society reiterated this point:

However people shouldn't rush out to buy this popular spice. This research is in the early stages and looked at mice not humans. We are therefore a long way from using cinnamon in the fight against Alzheimer's.

NHS Behind the Headlines has more:

It is important to note that this was an animal study and its findings may not apply to humans. Also, these experiments used a cinnamon extract rather than cinnamon itself, and it is not clear whether eating cinnamon would have the same effect. It is also unclear how much cinnamon it would be necessary to eat to have an effect, and there are chemicals in cinnamon bark that may have harmful effects if eaten in large quantities.

This is preliminary research and more investigation is needed to determine whether this extract is safe and works in humans. It is much too early to claim that this extract could be the “holy grail” for slowing or eradicating Alzheimer’s disease.


The Daily Express overstated the findings of this study. Stating that a “Cake cure for dementia” has been discovered is premature as this study examined the impact of a specific extract derived from cinnamon, not cake, in animal models of dementia rather than in humans.

Transforming old quotes into a 'new' feature

The centre page spread in Wednesday's Daily Star was a feature on model-turned-'actress' Rosie Huntingdon-Whiteley. It ran under the byline Nadine Linge and was illustrated by three pictures of Rosie in her underwear.

It appears to be a short interview - the text is dotted with comments such as 'jokes Rosie' and 'Rosie laughs' before and after quotes.

But it seems clear Linge hasn't actually interviewed Rosie at all.

Linge writes:

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley admits she’s infatuated with the [Prince Harry], even though she’s been loved-up with actor Jason Statham for over a year.

“I’m waiting for my proposal,” jokes Rosie.

“I keep writing. I think he knows how obsessed I am. Well, he does now!

“He’s so handsome. Come on Harry!”

But these words that will be familiar to anyone who saw the Mail's article on an interview Rosie did with Regis and Kelly in the US:

The 24-year-old Victoria's Secret beauty said she was infatuated with the Royal and gushed: 'I'm waiting for my proposal. I keep writing. 'I think he knows how obsessed I am. Well, he does now. He's so handsome.'

And she said she could picture herself walking down the aisle with the prince, urging: 'Come on Harry!'

Linge writes later:

The Plymouth-born beauty laughs: “When I was filming I couldn’t come back to Britain due to visa issues and I really missed my family big time. Luckily my mum sends me little care packages of chocolate, Walkers crisps and anything British.

“I love eating really, really bad things like roast dinners and chocolate bread and butter pudding. I find it strange some people say English food is bad. To me it’s delicious.”

Some of those words will be familiar to anyone who saw the Mail's article on an interview Rosie did with Maxim magazine:

“I love eating really, really bad things like roast dinners and chocolate bread and butter pudding. I find it strange some people say English food is bad. To me it’s delicious.”

Linge continues:

She’d love to become the new Angelina Jolie. And with Rosie’s equally fab figure and pouting lips, the Tomb Raider star had better watch her back.

“Would I like even a sniff of Angelina Jolie’s career?” says Rosie. “Yes. Do I think I have a future in this business? I hope so. And I’ll work damn hard to ensure I do.

“I’m not standing here and saying I’m an amazing actress or I’ve had a heap of training. But I don’t think I ever even dreamt this would be a possibility.”

Clearly, someone at the Star has a copy of the July 2011 edition of GQ, where Rosie says:

‘Would I like even a sniff of Angelina Jolie’s career? Yes. Do I think I have a future in this business? I certainly hope so. And I’m going to work damn hard to make sure I do,’ she said.

Adding: ‘I’m not standing here and saying I’m an amazing actress or that I’ve had a heap of thespie training. But you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t.’

None of these sources are credited anywhere in the feature.

This comes soon after Jerry Lawton appears to have pulled quotes by Manchester United club chaplain John Boyers from other sources without credit, including an interview in the United We Stand fanzine.

Currently, there is much debate about interviews that have appeared under Johann Hari's byline in the Independent. Hari has, quite rightly, been criticised for using, without acknowledgement, quotes that were actually published elsewhere and which were not said during his conversations with his interviewees.

Although the Star does not explicitly say this is a new interview, the references to her laughing and joking clearly conveys this impression. Will the reaction be the same? Or will people shrug and say: 'Well, it's only the Daily Star'.

The most popular stories on the Mail's website

Last week, this blog highlighted a MailOnline article about Kim Kardashian crossing a road. On the same day, Georgina Littlejohn was breathlessly explaining how Kim's sister Kourtney had been seen in 'high wedged sandals'. In an article which was essentially 'woman goes out wearing shoes', Littlejohn wrote:

the teeny tiny reality TV star must have been feeling particularly short yesterday judging by her shoes.

That same day, the latest ABCe figures showed that 77,250,993 unique visitors went to the Mail's website in May 2011, making it by far the most visited UK newspaper website (the Guardian was second, with 51.3m monthly visitors)

As this blog has pointed out several times before, MailOnline publisher Martin Clarke told the Press Gazette in 2009:

"It does annoy me that people say its all driven by search and showbiz stories because it’s actually not driven by either…

"Showbiz is less that 25 per cent of traffic. News is far more important to us that showbiz. News is what drives our site."

So, in the wake of the ABCe numbers, what does the Mail's 'Site's most read' section tell us about the popularity of the Mail's news and showbiz stories?

Here is the list of the ten most popular articles on their website so far today:

And the most popular over the last seven days:

And the most popular over the 30 days:

It shows that the Mail's news stories - what 'drives their site' - are less popular than 'woman dyes her hair', 'woman goes to Wimbledon' and 'footballer goes to Glastonbury'.

Compare that to the most read stories on the BBC website at time of writing:

'News' from the Mail website: three-year-old YouTube videos

By contrast, today the Mail website has a 'story' quite prominent on its homepage about foxes on a trampoline:

The story runs to six sentences, plus the video (embedded from YouTube) and four screenshots from it.

But the video the Mail uses was originally posted on YouTube on 19 September 2008.

And this isn't a one off. Just five days ago, the Mail revealed:

The article, by Jennifer Madison, is a description of what happens in the short video and includes eight stills. The video is embedded at the end.

And this one is even older - it was posted on YouTube on 31 December 2007.

(Hat-tips to @JonathanHaynes and @j0annepsi)

'That is not my dad'

A heart-warming story in the Evening Standard last week about Laura Robson's dad taking time off work to watch his daughter's second round match at Wimbledon:

But Robson tweeted:

(Photo from Laura Robson's page)

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Mail website apologises for incorrect caption

The Mail website published this apology to Michael Mates on 21 June:

An article published on MailOnline on 2 July 2010 included a photograph of former MP Mr Michael Mates which was wrongly captioned “Downfall: Former Tory Northern Ireland Secretary was forced to resign after he was paid cash for House questions”. We would like to clarity [sic] that Mr Mates was not forced to resign and nor was he paid cash for House questions. We apologise to Mr Mates.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Express reveals weight-loss 'secret': don't eat lots of crisps

Today's Daily Express front page claims to reveal the 'secret' to easy weight loss:

The article, by Jo Willey, is based on some research - as so many Express articles are. It says:

A simple way for people to stay slim without counting the calories has been discovered.

Newly discovered secrets to easy weight loss. What are they?

the best way to stay a healthy weight is eat nutritious and filling foods of good quality


people watching their weight need to cut out fizzy, sugar-sweetened drinks


they should eat a lot more “natural” foods, such as fruit and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and yogurt, while avoiding anything processed.


Bigger daily portions of certain foods were linked to the largest weight gains over each four-year term. Crisps lead to a 1.69lb gain every term and sugar-sweetened drinks an additional 1lb.


But other foods gave less weight gain even when their consumption was increased.

Vegetables saw a loss of 0.22lb per four years, whole grains a loss of 0.37lb, fruits 0.49lb, nuts 0.57lb and yogurt 0.82lb.


Exercise reduced weight, while alcohol added it at the rate of 0.41lb.

So those just-discovered secrets are: consuming lots of alcohol, fizzy drinks, crisps and processed food makes you gain weight, while fruit, vegetables, nuts and exercise makes you lose weight.

Thanks, Daily Express, for revealing those secrets 'just in time for summer'.

Woman crosses road

The Mail website's obsession with reporting on everything that Kim Kardashian does reaches a new low with:

A close encounter with a bus? Oh no - is she OK?

The millionaire reality star - who is normally chauffeur-driven - was pictured crossing the road in Beverly Hills while coming in close proximity to a bus.

While it's not clear whether it was in motion, curvaceous Kim does have the figure and smouldering looks capable of stopping traffic.

So the Mail website has bought some photo agency pics of Kim walking down along pavement and crossing a road. One photo has a bus in the background and that was used as the basis for an article.

Daily Mail Reporter then gives us three sentences describing her outfit. But before you think this is one of the most uninteresting 'news stories' you've ever read, they exclusively reveal:

Kim...also found time yesterday to indulge in frozen yoghurt.

And it was only a few days ago that the Mail's Charles Sale was criticising the BBC for a 'ridiculous celebrity obsession'.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Pot, meet kettle

Today, the Mail's Charles Sale wrote:

Making an impression

Impressionist Alistair McGowan may do an excellent impersonation of Andy Murray but 5 Live employing the comedian on their reporting team attending Wimbledon press conferences is another example of the
BBC’s ridiculous celebrity obsession.

It's the latest feeble attempt by a Mail journalist to knock the BBC.

But is someone whose work appears on the Mail website - which last month published 22 articles about The Only Way is Essex in four days - in the best position to accuse another media organsation of having a 'ridiculous celebrity obsession'?

The EU doesn't really want your 'pets' for drug testing

A few days ago, the Sunday Express led with yet another scare story about the EU:

The EU now wants to 'test drugs on pets'? It makes it sound as if the EU will be snatching kittens from crying children and hauling them off to the laboratory.

Here's how Ted Jeory explains it:

Thousands of pets in Britain could end up being used in lab tests if European plans to weaken our tough animal welfare laws succeed.

The Brussels directive could trigger a dramatic rise in the number of cats, dogs and horses used in laboratory experiments.

The plan would remove the special protection domestic animals currently have and could even allow pets deemed strays to be used for the first time.

Towards the end of the article Jeory eventually admits:

Under the EU directive, member states can retain their own laws providing they were in place by last November.

So none of this may happen anyway and the Government may stick with the existing legislation. But if the Directive is adopted, does it mean that the EU will get its hands on your pets?

Indeed, the Directive doesn't mention 'pets' at all but refers instead to 'Stray and feral animals of domestic species'. The Directive (paragraph 21) says:

Since the background of stray and feral animals of domestic species is not known, and since capture and placement into establishments increases distress for such animals, they should not, as a general rule, be used in procedures.

Article 11 adds that exemptions may be granted only where:

(a) there is an essential need for studies concerning the health and welfare of the animals or serious threats to the environment or to human or animal health; and (b) there is scientific justification to the effect that the purpose of the procedure can be achieved only by the use of a stray or a feral animal.

Inevitably, the European Commission Representative in the UK has been forced to fire off another letter in response to the Sunday Express' article:

Your front-page on EU plans to use pets in scientific experiments is nonsense. The pets of Britain are safe from scientific experiments. EU rules state that only animals specifically bred for research can be used. Only where the research specifically relates to stray animals (say, into illnesses that could be passed to children after contact with strays) can an exception be made.

There's one other part of the Directive that Jeory neglects to mention:

this Directive represents an important step towards achieving the final goal of full replacement of procedures on live animals for scientific and educational purposes as soon as it is scientifically possible to do so. To that end, it seeks to facilitate and promote the advancement of alternative approaches.

And, as the press release states:

The main objectives are to considerably improve the welfare of animals used in scientific procedures... The directive is based on the need to Replace, Reduce, and Refine animal testing – the Three Rs principle. The Commission believes strongly in the need to find alternative methods to testing on animals. Where this is not possible the number of animals used must be reduced or the testing methods refined so as to cause less harm to the animals.

So the EU would like to reach a position where live animals are not used for testing. Until then, only animals specifically bred for testing can be used. Stray and feral animals of domestic species shouldn't be used, but in circumstances where research relates directly to issues around strays, exemptions may be granted. But as the UK has tougher rules already in place, that exemption might not be adopted by the Government anyway.

To the Sunday Express, all this means: the EU wants to test drugs on your pets.

Daily Star: 'shamelessly looking to cash in'

From 6 June to today, the Daily Star has put the word 'Giggs' in its main front page headline every single day (this excludes the Daily Star Sunday, which has stuck with Pippa Middleton for the last two weeks). The first twelve of these front pages are available on the Media Blog.

Yet on 17 June - the 11th day - the paper's editorial was criticising the people involved in this tawdry story for forgetting there are:

little children at the centre of this scandal.

And for:

shamelessly looking to cash in


Today, the 14th front page claims that 'Sex addict Giggs gets therapy':

It's another story that the Star calls an 'exclusive' and states that Giggs is in some kind of therapy. Is he?

Here's how Jerry Lawton begins his article:

Manchester United have signed up God to keep bedhopping stars like Ryan Giggs on the straight and narrow.


Club chaplain Rev John Boyers revealed his job now involves teaching players about “sexual ethics”. The morality lessons come after the club has been rocked by a series of sex scandals...

Now club bosses want Rev Boyers to lecture rising stars on sexual morality in a bid to stop future scandals.

So Giggs isn't actually 'getting therapy'. The Star's 'exclusive' is that Manchester United FC has a chaplain. But this isn't really an 'exclusive', or even news, as Boyers has been doing that job since 1992.

But the Star tries to pretend there's something new here. Lawton says Boyers is 'now' teaching about 'sexual ethics' 'after' recent 'sex scandals' - as if this is somehow linked to the Giggs case.

It isn't.

He quotes Boyers saying:

“I do some work with the academy teaching them life skills – situations in life they may encounter and how they might cope.

“Things like friendship, sexual ethics, bereavement, bullying and prejudice, racism. I try to help them prepare for adult life.

But compare that to something Boyers wrote in a June 2010 article called 'Prayers for the players' (pdf):

I do some educational work with younger academy players. SCORE has some ‘Life-skills’ teaching material which looks at issues such as friendships, bereavement, bullying, sexual ethics, decision making, prejudice, privilege and responsibility etc.

Lawton goes on to quote Boyers saying:

“I also do general pastoral support and spiritual support work right across the club...

“We’ve had many situations in football ranging from drugs scandals to financial scandals and behavioural scandals which show there is real worth in having a chaplaincy.’’

And compare that to a quote from Boyers found in an Independent article from November 1995:

"Clubs are seeing the value of the chaplaincy as a pastoral and spiritual safety net...

"We've had many situations in football ranging from drugs scandals to financial scandals and behavioural scandals which show there is real worth in having a chaplaincy."

It could be the Boyers has said the same things then and now. But it appears that Lawton is copying previous statements from Boyers that he's found on the internet and is making them out to be both new and related to Giggs.

Lawton adds:

The minister will not discuss individual cases.

Which sounds a bit like the Independent's:

Rev Boyers won't discuss individual cases...

Lawton then relies on the anonymous sources he's so fond of using, claiming:

But club sources say Giggs has come under his wing during his 21-year career with Manchester United.

“I guess some people heed advice more than others,’’ the source said.

“Rev John is a highly regarded member of the team and does his best to help set our young players along the right path. Handling fame and all that goes with it is not easy.’’

Note that the 'club source' doesn't actual back up the contention made in the sentence before it.

So the story is nonsense, dubiously assembled and almost completely fictitious.

And so have most of the Star's front pages 'stories' about Giggs over the last few weeks, including the 'sexy girlie romp' that turned out to be a trip to an estate agent and the joke that was treated as fact. And many of them carry the byline of Jerry Lawton, the man behind the infamous Grand Theft Auto: Rothbury article.

For example, yesterday's front page stated:

The 'lover' in question is not Imogen Thomas, who is pictured in her underwear, but Giggs' sister-in-law Natasha. 'Sex romp revenge' sounds like a set of random Daily Star buzzwords, thrown together to sell papers. It's also an 'exclusive'. It says on the front page:

Ryan Giggs's sister-in-law lover will romp with EIGHT celebrity hunks to make the footie love cheat jealous.

This shows, of course, that the Star is deeply concerned about the:

little children at the centre of this scandal.

Lawton's article goes on to reveal:

Natasha, 28, has revealed to Facebook pals the names of eight stars she drools over.

So: woman tells friends that she fancies some celebs. It's not quite the same as saying she 'will romp' with them all in some 'sex revenge plot'.

Saturday's front page story claimed:

'I dressed a French maid', plus the word 'exclusive' and the photo all make it appear as if this was an interview, or at least an actual statement from a woman involved (Natasha, again).

The article by Lawton and Aaron Tinney began:

Ryan Giggs liked his sister-in-law lover to dress up as a French maid.

The Star's 'proof' for this claim:

Naughty Natasha, 28, donned a pink frilly micro-skirt and black G-string with white spots to thrill him.

And she was so proud of her cheeky look she showed it off on her Facebook site. Although her snap showed only her bottom she assured friends it was hers.

Pals said the fantastic figure she reveals in the photo explains why married Manchester United legend Ryan, 37, was tempted to play away from home for eight years.

So: woman posts picture of her bum on Facebook. Neither the anonymous pal who is quoted nor anyone else says anything about dressing as a French maid - except Lawton.

The day before, the paper was claiming 'another great Daily Star exclusive':

Once again, the headline makes it sound as if this is something that has actually been said. In this case, by Kym Marsh. 'Giggs bedded babe in my home'? Well, here's Lawton again:

Coronation Street beauty Kym Marsh fears Ryan Giggs romped in her bedroom with his sister-in-law... Kym, 35, and partner Jamie Lomas, 31...believe the lovers got it on in their posh pad.

So no actual proof then? And did Marsh actually say that?

One of Kym’s pals told the Daily Star: “Kym believes they could have been using her bedroom for their affair."

Ah, of course - another anonymous pal, who reveals that someone thinks something might have happened in their house before they moved in but since they weren't there don't really have any idea whether it did. Or not.

That's 'another great Daily Star exclusive'.

The day before that, the Star came up with this 'exclusive':

A 'baby bump'. 'Who's the daddy'? Here's Jerry 'the Pulitzer's coming soon' Lawton again:

Ryan Giggs was in shock last night after his sister-in-law lover flew home proudly sporting a mummy tummy.

Since Giggs isn't quoted, there's no way of knowing if he's 'shocked' or not. That's assuming she's even pregnant:

Natasha Giggs, 28, sparked speculation she might be pregnant as she jetted back to Britain looking rounder than normal.

Since she's only been in the public eye a few weeks, it's hard to know how the paper can claim to know what her 'normal' shape is.

But 'sparked speculation she might be pregnant'? That's a bit different to a definite 'baby bump'. Who was speculating?

One onlooker said: “The terminal was buzzing with talk that Natasha is pregnant again. She might just have been comfort-eating but if she is expecting, it will be yet another nightmare for Giggsy.”

So the speculation is from the all-seeing anonymous 'onlooker' who may or may not be someone in the Daily Star 'newsroom'.

The Mail website carried the same photos of Natasha Giggs at the airport. They didn't mention any 'speculation' and their pictures don't really show any noticeable 'baby bump'. But claiming someone is pregnant when they aren't is something the Star has done several times before.

Despite churning out this inaccurate, misleading, utterly tedious drivel day after day, the Daily Star still manages to be the fourth best-selling daily newspaper in the UK. But is the 15.9% fall in sales between April 2010 and April 2011 a sign that their readers are getting tired of being treated like fools?

Monday, 20 June 2011

The Mail and the BBC (cont.)

The Mail's obsession with publishing articles critical of the BBC continues apace.

A few weeks ago, the Mail produced its annual article complaining about the BBC's Glastonbury coverage. This time, it elicited a response from the BBC as well as this blogpost from No Rock N Roll.

Then on 14 June, the paper reported:

Hundreds of fans of the Antiques Roadshow have complained after the BBC axed the show on Sunday to make way for the Canadian Grand Prix.

It is likely that fans of Formula One would have complained if the BBC had cut away from the live coverage to show a pre-recorded programme that could easily be shown at a later date, so it was a no-win situation. The Mail would have had an article either way.

The same day, the Mail's regular anti-BBC hack, Paul Revoir, was reporting on the 'uproar' and 'backlash' caused by a scene in EastEnders:

EastEnders sparks uproar with gay bedroom scene before the watershed

An EastEnders episode that showed a gay couple apparently naked in bed has sparked an audience backlash.

At least 125 viewers complained that a scene featuring the characters Christian Clarke and Syed Masood was inappropriate for the show’s pre-watershed slot.

Revoir then goes into detail:

The pair were lying in bed together, with no tops on, and bedclothes pulled up to their chests. The two characters, who are trying to adopt and are planning a civil ceremony, also shared a brief kiss.

They were seen joking about getting matching rings and not changing their names when they tie the knot. Syed was seen with his arm draped around his partner as they cuddled up in bed in the short scene.

So: fictional couple cuddle in bed and talk about the future. Shocking indeed.

The episode in question was actually broadcast on 31 May and watched, according to BARB, by 6.89m viewers. Such was the 'uproar' that the Mail didn't notice this 'backlash' until two weeks later. It didn't even notice when the BBC issued a statement on 7 June, which pointed out:

We approach our portrayal of homosexual relationships in exactly the same way as we do heterosexual relationships, ensuring depictions of affection or sexuality between couples are suitable for pre-watershed viewing.

We would also point out that same-sex civil partnerships became law in December 2005, giving equal rights to gay couples in the UK.

The BBC cannot discriminate by treating gay characters differently to heterosexual characters.

We have also received a lot of very positive feedback about the storyline regarding Christian and Syed's relationship.

125 complaints out of 6.89m viewers is a tiny percentage. Revoir has, of course, found a few critical comments on the Points of View messageboards to include, but fails to repeat any of the positive remarks. He does, however, note the 77 messages of support the BBC had received - but they would never be the basis for a Mail article.

Today, the paper has turned to Liz Thomas for the BBC-bashing article of the day:

The article explains:

It is supposed to be one of the BBC’s most hard-hitting consumer affairs programmes.

But listeners have accused Radio 4’s You and Yours of broadcasting a ‘six-minute advert’ for Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

The programme featured an interview with the company’s managing director Rob Hunt by journalist Julian Worricker.

Fans of the show complained that two thirds of the programme featured an ‘unchallenged promotion for the firm’s products’.

In the final third, the paper admits:

issues such as health and obesity were raised.

It is refreshing that the BBC deals openly with reader complaints in programmes such as Feedback, Points of View and Newswatch even if it gives the Mail continuous ammunition to attack the Corporation. The Mail does not have such methods of dealing with complaints - they have no corrections column and no readers' editor.

The edition of You and Yours was broadcast on 13 June. It was only when the BBC dealt with the complaints on BBC Radio 4's Feedback - broadcast on 17 June - that the Mail leapt into action.

So all the quotes from Hunt and from the complainants, and the defence from You and Yours editor Andrew Smith, are straight transcriptions from Feedback.

According the Media Blog, which spoke to the BBC Press Office, only 13 people actually complained.

But the Mail's attempt to take the high-ground on reporting Krispy Kreme doesn't entirely ring true anyway.

On 3 June, the Mail reported it was National Doughnut Day in the US. Daily Mail Reporter wrote:

Time to make the donuts! Today is National Doughnut Day across the U.S. and national chains such as Dunkin' Donuts and Krispy Kreme are doling out the sweet treat to help Americans celebrate.

It then added:

Krispy Kreme is giving away one free doughnut of any variety to anyone who walks in to one of their 646 locations while Dunkin' Donuts is requiring customers to purchase a drink before they hand over the free dough.

Back in April, when a Krispy Kreme outlet opened in Cardiff, the Mail reported:

More than 1,000 sweet-toothed shoppers queued outside a new Krispy Kreme doughnut store to get their hands on one of the free treats.

And it was only too happy to repeat the words of one 'satisfied customer':

Student Ceri Lewis, 20, said: 'It was a lovely doughnut, well worth the two-hour wait. 'It was really good fun waiting in line. It was the best queue I’ve ever been in for having a good laugh, much better than geeks waiting for an iPad.'

This article - essentially, 'food shop opens in Cardiff' - is nothing more than a puff piece for Krispy Kreme. And, unlike in the You and Yours piece, there's no raising of 'issues such as health and obesity'.

The message from the Mail on this - as with the X Factor/sexual content issue - seems to be: do as we say and not as we do.

(Thanks to Jem Stone)

Sorry we said you were dead

In November 2010, the Mail apologised for prematurely killing off Carole Caplin's mum:

An article about lifestyle expert Carole Caplin published on September 18 erroneously referred to her mother as the late Sylvia Caplin.

We are happy to report that Sylvia Caplin is alive, well and continuing to work. Our apologies for these errors and the distress caused.

Today, a judge has ruled that Carole Caplin can sue the Daily Mail for libel for an article published last year:

Caplin, 48, is seeking damages of up to £250,000 from the Associated Newspapers title after a September 2010 article which allegedly suggested that she would disclose "sex secrets" about former prime minister Tony Blair's wife for £1m.

Judge Mrs Justice Sharp on Monday concluded that the article, headlined "Will Carole Caplin lift the lid on Blairs' marriage?", was capable of giving rise to the suspicion that she would sell her story for a substantial fee.

It is interesting to see this news appears on the front page of Tuesday's Express:

A few days ago, when Barbara Broccoli won damages from the Mail, the Express ran the story quite prominently on its website. Does this signal that the 'truce' between these tabloid rivals is breaking down again?

Sorry we said you were 'sexting' while your fiancé was pregnant

Yesterday's Scottish News of the World published the following apology:

In an article published on July 25, 2010, under the heading ‘Glove Rat’, we suggested former Celtic goalkeeper Artur Boruc had sent x-rated texts and pictures by phone to a mystery woman while his fiancé was pregnant.

We now accept these allegations were untrue and texts and pictures referred to were not sent by Mr Boruc.

We apologise for the wrong report and for any distress we may have caused to Mr Boruc and his fiancé.

The apology came with substantial damages of £70,000.

According to the BBC:

Roddy Dunlop QC, for News Group, said they thought they had good reason - at the time - to carry the story but had been "victim of a highly complex deceit by one man".

Mr Dunlop said: "The defenders accept that they were entirely taken in by this fraud but they were not reckless or irresponsible in the beliefs that they held.

"It was only when the phone details began to emerge that the tissue of lies was revealed."

But Roy Greenslade picks up some interesting quotes from the original article:

"Last night a friend of the Hoops hero... said: 'This is not a good time for this to come out. Artur's been stupid.'

The pal, who asked not to be named, added: 'He can't remember what he sent her but he should NEVER have done it.'"

Greenslade says:

In the light of the paper's admission that the story itself was untrue, these quotes are exposed as having been concocted.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Sorry for what we said you did in a nightclub

The Sun, 15 March 2011:

Girl grabs bum pincher Aaron Lennon

Spurs ace Aaron Lennon is snubbed by club girl

CHEEKY Aaron Lennon is put in his place by a girl clubber - who squeezes his chops after he pinched her bum.

The woman seemed less than happy at the Tottenham winger's advances.

Witnesses said she turned on the 23-year-old, who goosed her as she walked past.

The reveller, in a short black dress, then turned on her heels and stormed off.

Another clubber said: "He jokingly grabbed at her bum and she went mental. He was gobsmacked and didn't say a word."

The Spurs ace, who went on to rack up a £15,000 bar bill with West Ham pal Carlton Cole at London club Merah, also failed to chat up a tattooed blonde.

Do you know the face squeeze girl? Call 020 7782 4104 or email

Aaron Lennon, 15 March 2011:

grabbed her bum = fiction she got mad = fiction 15,000 bar bill = fiction

The Sun, 3 June 2011:

Further to our article of March 15 ("Keep your Aaron") about Tottenham winger Aaron Lennon in a London nightclub, we would like to make clear Mr Lennon did not approach any strangers in the club, nor did he spend anywhere near the £15,000 we reported.

We apologise to Mr Lennon and are happy to clarify the matter.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Richard Desmond and 'dramatically increased sales'

In a blogpost about that dismal CNBC interview with Richard Desmond, Roy Greenslade highlighted another 'whopper' from the Daily Star-owning porn merchant.

Greenslade explains:

[Interviewer Tania] Bryer asked him: "How were you able to pay back the £97m loan you obtained in order to acquire Express Newspapers within six months?"

"By managing the business, basically," replied Desmond, adding that increasing sales also played a part. "The Daily Star sales increased dramatically," he said, "and the Daily Express sales increased dramatically."

Well, that was half right. Sales of the Star in the final six months of 2000 - the year of Desmond's takeover - averaged 543,000 a day and were falling. They soon took off, helped by a price cut, and now stand at 702,000.

But the Express story is different, and totally at odds with Desmond's claim. Its sale in 2000 was more than 1m. It has see-sawed downwards ever since to its current 631,000.

And Greenslade is right. There hasn't been a 'dramatic increase' in sales of the Express because there hasn't been an increase at all.

Richard Desmond acquired the papers in November 2000 and the daily circulation for the Express that month was 985,253.

According to the ABCs published by the Guardian, the Express has never come close to even matching, let alone surpassing, that figure in the ten-and-a-half years since.

Indeed, the highest monthly figure in that period was in August 2002, when it stood at 960,765 - still 25,000 down.

And daily sales in April 2011 stood at 635,576 - down 350,000 per day from November 2000.

But in Desmond's world, selling fewer copies of a newspaper means 'sales increased dramatically'.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

No, Mr Dacre, I expect you to apologise

Today, the Mail has published the following apology to James Bond producer Barbara Broccoli:

Further to our August 15 and 16 articles "Axed film quango gave £70m to own members" and "Charity that really must start at home", we wish to clarify that it was never our intention to suggest that Barbara Broccoli had awarded herself a huge grant or indeed any grant of public money or had misused any funds. We accept that the grant was properly made to a registered youth film-making charity, First Light, of which Ms Broccoli is unpaid chair of trustees. We apologise to Ms Broccoli for any embarrassment.

What that apology doesn't make clear is that it comes with 'substantial undisclosed libel damages'.

The Press Gazette explains:

The action stems from a story headlined: "Axed film quango gave £70m to own members" which appeared in the Mail on Sunday on 15 August, 2010. According to a statement read out in open court yesterday, the allegation was repeated the following day in the Daily Mail's Peter McKay column under the heading: "Charity that really must start at home"...

Her solicitor Michael Skrein, from Reed Smith, said: "So, she did not award herself or her own company any grant whilst a board member of the UK Film Council and she has not misused public funds.

"The offending publications were deeply upsetting to the claimant and her family and harmful to her reputation."

The court heard that the allegations were repeated elsewhere online, including on The Guardian's Comment Is Free website.

The Guardian adds a further comment from Skrein:

Associated had made clear that it had no intention to accuse Broccoli of any wrongdoing and had made an offer of amends – which involved payment of substantial damages, which she intended to pass to First Light, and her legal costs, and the publication of apologies.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Star calls 'visit to estate agent' a 'sexy girlie romp'

Today's Daily Star front page says:

That's 'Ryan Giggs: Imogen's £1m babe spree - Sexy girlie romp for lover'. Got that?

As The Media Blog commented last night, it's hard to know what this actually means as it's 'just a series of tabloid buzz words'. (In response, one person suggested Thomas had bought £1m-worth of talking pigs...)

Here's Aaron Tinney's article:

Sex-gag beauty Imogen Thomas is looking like a million bucks.

Ex-Big Brother babe Imogen Thomas has shot into a different league since the Ryan Giggs storm erupted.

OK...but what's the story?

And she showed off her latest bling yesterday as she shopped around for a new pad in an area where flats start at nearly £1million.

The glamour girl spent the day draped in designer clobber worth thousands as she nipped around in a sleek Mercedes costing over £32,000.

She drove the silver SLK 200 to Greene & Co, one of London’s poshest estate agents.

The office is in Notting Hill where a two-bed apartment will set you back at least £900,000.

The Star labels this an 'exclusive' and said this happened 'yesterday'. Which is odd, considering the Mail website published the photos they had bought from two different picture agencies of Thomas leaving Greene & Co on Monday night.

The Mail claimed two-bedroom flats there will cost £884,000. The Star's article says £900,000. The front page then rounds it up to £1m.

The Star goes on to explain more of Thomas' fascinating exploits on Monday:

Then it was back to her North London pad, where she changed into another outfit with Christian Louboutin heels worth around £700 before heading out again in the Merc.

Hold the front page for 'woman goes out, goes home, goes out again'.

These pictures were published by the Mail yesterday. Yet the Star goes on to quote an anonymous 'onlooker':

One onlooker said: “She looked exactly like a WAG with the shades, crocodile bag and fancy shoes.

“But she gets to live a WAG lifestyle without the bother of being married to a footballer.

“She looks like she’s got it made.”

Given the Star have taken the whole story from articles on the Mail website, how can they have interviewed this 'onlooker'? Or is this onlooker someone in the Star's newsroom?

But what about that front page headline? 'Imogen's £1m babe spree' means 'Imogen might be looking to buy a flat worth less than £1m'.

And 'sexy girlie romp' - according to the Star - means 'visited an estate agent'.

Once again, the Star uses totally misleading front page headlines to sell papers.

Owner of Television X denies he's a 'porn baron'

In an interview with CNBC, Richard Desmond - owner of the Daily Star and former owner of a string of porn mags including Asian Babes and Reader's Wives - denies being a 'porn baron':

When asked whether he minded being referred to as a "porn baron" or a "porn king", Desmond says the terms were "inaccurate". He says: "Porn to me is illegal and we had magazines which were sold through WH Smith, John Menzies."

He has tried this trick before - in December, he told an interviewer:

'First of all, it's not "porn"...It's adult magazines that were sold through the same distribution channels as all newspapers and other magazines. It was all regulated. It was honest.'

While adult material may have to be 'illegal' for him to consider it 'porn', that's not a definition that most other people would recognise.

Then again, it doesn't seem to be a description Desmond himself believes when it suits him.

Desmond is the founder and chairman of Northern and Shell, the company that owns the Express, Star, OK!, Channel 5 and other media outlets. N&S also owns Portland TV which runs Television X, a television channel that N&S proudly talks about on its website.

And Television X is very sure that what it broadcasts is 'porn' - the word is repeated several times on its website, including:

Television X has a broadcasting licence from Ofcom, so it is definitely not illegal. But it is, in its own words, 'porn'.

Desmond has previously said he won a court case he actually lost, publishes a paper that claims living people are dead, pays out libel damages with some regularity and has withdrawn his newspapers from any form of external oversight. Somehow, it's no surprise to see him trying to come up with new meanings for words.

But whatever he tries to claim, Desmond's company used to publish porn magazines, and now broadcasts porn on television.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Sorry we said you lazy and uncaring in the Baby P case

On 10 June, the Sun published the following apology to Sylvia Henry - a social worker in the Baby P case:

In our campaign to highlight the failings of the authorities to protect Baby P from his killers, we identified staff at Haringey Social Services including one of the social workers Sylvia Henry. It is now clear that Ms Henry was not at fault or to blame in any way for decisions contributing to Baby P's tragic death and should not have been a target of our campaign. She did her best for Baby P. It was also untrue to suggest that she was lazy and uncaring in her work and deserved to be sacked.

Our articles referred to Ms Henry's involvement in the tragic case of Victoria Climbie, a young girl who had been abused and killed by her carers in Haringey some 8 years previously. We accept that Ms Henry's evidence to the Laming inquiry was truthful, and withdraw any suggestion that she lied to avoid criticism. We sincerely apologise to Ms Henry for these untrue allegations and we have agreed to pay her compensation.

The Sun wasn't alone in making these false claims. The BBC explains:

Last year, Ms Henry accepted compensation from Haringey Council after the authority made false claims about her and the Baby Peter case on its website.

And the Guardian points out:

Henry accepted compensation and apologies in 2010 from the London Evening Standard, Daily Mirror and Independent

The Independent's apology referred to one article:

On 12 November 2008 we published an article about the death of Peter Connolly, who was also known as Baby P.

It wrongly alleged that Sylvia Henry, who is a social work Team Manager employed by Haringey Council, had been one of the social workers who had culpably failed to protect Baby P from his guardians and thereby bore a share of responsibility for his suffering and death.

We acknowledge that this was not the case and we apologise to Sylvia Henry.

As did the Mirror's:

On December 2, 2008 we published an article headed "Baby P social workers are still drawing full pay while on suspension" concerning the events which led to the death of Peter Connolly, who was also known as Baby P.

The article alleged that Sylvia Henry, who is a social worker Team Manager employed by Haringey Council, had behaved negligently in her dealings with Peter and had thereby contributed to his suffering and to his death.

These allegations were untrue. We acknowledge that Sylvia Henry was not to blame for the mistakes which contributed to Peter's death and we apologise to her.

We have agreed to compensate Ms Henry for the hurt and upset caused by our article.

According to the Guardian, however, the Sun's claims:

are understood to have been published in about 80 articles and Henry was also named in the Sun's Justice for Baby P campaign, which called for Haringey social services staff it alleged were responsible for Connelly's death to be sacked and barred from any future work with children.


...was accused in articles published in the Sun of being "grossly negligent" in her handling of Peter Connelly's case and that she was "thereby to blame for his appalling abuse and death", the high court heard.

Henry's solicitor, Daniel Taylor, told Mr Justice Eady the newspaper also said she had shown no remorse for these failings and was "shameless and had ducked responsibility for Peter's death".

In a series of articles published over four months from November 2008, the Sun also alleged that Henry was lazy and "had generally shown an uncaring disregard for the safety of children, even in cases where they obviously required urgent protection".

Taylor added:

"The Sun accepts that Ms Henry was not at fault or to blame in any way for anything done by Haringey social services that may have contributed to Peter's terrible abuse and death...

"They accept that she did her very best for Peter and particularly that she made repeated efforts to have him kept safe by being placed in foster care rather than being returned to the care of his mother."

The solicitor for News Group Newspapers, Ben Beabey, said:

"The Sun fully accepts that the claimant played no part and bears no responsibility for the circumstances surrounding the death of Peter Connelly and that she did her best for him. The Sun apologises to Ms Henry."

Septicisle has more on the background to this case, noting:

Henry was one of the five individuals the paper demanded be immediately sacked for having failed to prevent Connelly's death. The paper's campaign continued even after the BBC's Panorama had disclosed that Henry had wanted Connelly taken into care in 2006...

She should never have had to pursue such a lengthy libel action though: if the Sun had bothered to investigate the case anything approaching properly in the first place they would have found, like Panorama, that she had worked conscientiously and with Connelly's best interests at heart throughout.

'We accept no such incident took place'

On 10 June, the Mail published this apology to Simon Murray:

In City Focus on April 27, we reported that Simon Murray was once involved in an incident involving a stolen ferry which resulted in him being held in a Hong Kong jail.

We accept that no such incident took place and we apologise to Mr Murray for the distress caused.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Shock as ghost doesn't actually sell house

Tuesday's Daily Express contains an eye-catching headline on its front page:

It sounds more like a headline from the Sunday Sport than something found in the, ahem, 'world's greatest newspaper'. Anne Diamond was 'sold a house' by a ghost?

Well, although she does claim that the ghost of the previous owner opened the front door when she visited the house for a viewing, that's it.

In fact, that claim of the front page headline doesn't even survive the first two paragraphs of Nathan Rao's article:

Anne Diamond has revealed she was once scared off buying her dream home after coming face-to-face with the ghost of its previous owner.

The TV presenter said she could not bear to live in the house with her children ­knowing it was haunted and so gave it up even though it was perfect in every other way.

And just in case that's not clear enough, there's an actual quote from Diamond:

'I decided not to buy the place after all.'

The story comes from a forthcoming TV show called Celebrity Ghost Stories UK. Surprisingly, it isn't a Channel 5 show, but that doesn't stop the Express mentioning that Diamond is:

a regular guest on Channel 5’s current affairs show The Wright Stuff.

The headline on the online version of the article, incidentally, is 'Haunted house that spooked TV's Anne Diamond'. At least that reflects the content of the article - unlike the attention-grabbing one they've put on the front of the paper.

Monday, 6 June 2011

News of the World 'bombshell' explodes

On Saturday night, News of the World showbiz editor Dan Wootton had an exclusive to share with his 90,000 Twitter followers:

And if they missed that, he followed it up seven minutes later with:

Ninety minutes later, there was more:

Two minutes later:

And there was yet another plug one minute after that:

On Sky News on Sunday morning, Wootton admitted it wasn't actually a done deal - Cole hadn't actually agreed to go back - but he said 'all the indications are that she will'.

Did she?

Well, Wootton updated his followers today, without using his caps lock or the words 'sensational' or 'bombshell':

She won't?


'Broken leg'

The Mail website had the pathetic Mail on Sunday splash about 'the swear word that wasn't' near the top of its homepage for much of yesterday. But in the evening, a far more important story broke. So important, indeed, that the Mail website ran it as a splash across the whole width of their homepage - something it had previously done for events such as the General Election, the Japanese earthquake and the Royal Wedding.

It was:

As Martin Belam commented on Twitter:

The article repeated the headline, but included a bullet point sub-head containing a snippet of extra information:

'A broken leg' - and from the way the Mail website has presented the story, it appears to be pointing the finger of blame at 'boy band bruiser' Campbell:

Campbell, former Director of Communications for Tony Blair between 1997 and 2003, later tried to play down the row, saying it was ‘all a bit handbags’.

But Parker was later stretchered off the pitch with a suspected broken leg.

Ah - so the 'broken leg' becomes a 'suspected broken leg' further down the article.

And, according to Campbell, he wasn't even playing in the match in which Parker was injured:

What The Mail has managed to do in that lovely way it has is link this skirmish with a later incident when Tom was carried off on a stretcher. I would just like to point out that this happened in a subsequent match, in which I was not involved.

But what does Parker have to say about his 'broken leg'?

'A twisted knee'. So not a broken leg at all.

Campbell added:

So to those fans of The Wanted protesting on twitter that I broke his leg – I didn’t, and I was also pleased to learn as we left the stadium that the injury was not as serious as first thought, so nobody did.

Where would those fans of The Wanted got the idea that Campbell had broken Parker's leg?

The Mail's article first appeared at 5:45pm under the Daily Mail Reporter's byline. It included many grammatical errors ('firsts flying') as well as the factual one about the state of Parker's leg. A re-write at 2:20am by Chris Brooke corrected some of them, but several - including the reference to the 'broken leg' - remain.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Mail on Sunday attacks BBC for word they didn't actually broadcast

Last month, an attempt by the Mail on Sunday to attack the BBC (over Tim Henman's Wimbledon fee) backfired when they were forced to withdraw the inaccurate story a week later.

But they're never going to give up attacking the BBC so they have dug up what journalists Chris Hastings and Steve Farrell call a 'decency row' involving a joke on a Radio 4 comedy show. The paper thinks this is such an important story, it's their front page lead:

The BBC was at the centre of a new decency row last night after ruling that the most offensive word in English is acceptable for broadcast.

The Corporation decided that the word – most abhorrent to women – has lost much of its 'shock value' and is tolerable for radio and television.

An executive who cleared it for daytime transmission on flagship Radio 4 even said it would 'delight' many of its audience, who would 'love it’.

Firstly, there was no decency row 'last night'. The twelfth paragraph of the article reveals that the joke in question was broadcast on an episode of The News Quiz in October last year. At the time, a retired newspaper executive complained to the BBC. After going through the complaints process, and various appeals, his complaint was rejected - and so he seems to have sent all the correspondence to the Mail on Sunday.

According to the article, the BBC has decided the c-word is 'tolerable for radio'. It was 'cleared for daytime transmission', the paper says.

They bolster their case with critical quotes from MP John Whittingdale:

'The vast majority of people still regard this an offensive term and it should not have been broadcast at this time.'

And, inevitably, from Mediawatch-UK:

'This is still an offensive term and is in fact one of the only truly offensive terms we have left. It should not have been broadcast at this time.'

All of which very strongly suggests the c-word was said on this show. Indeed, the paper explains:

The Mail on Sunday feels it is necessary to the reporting of the story to repeat the joke, and apologises in advance for any offence caused.

OK. Everyone sitting down, braced for the shock?

Miss [Sandi] Toksvig said: 'It's the Tories who have put the 'n' into cuts.'




So the word wasn't actually broadcast on The News Quiz, then? No.

But didn't the article say the the BBC had made a 'ruling [that] the word is acceptable for broadcast'?

It takes the Mail on Sunday eleven paragraphs to repeat the joke and up until that point it very clearly implies the c-word was actually uttered at 6.30pm. It wasn't.

So rude word not actually broadcast on radio. They decided to hold the front page for that.

Yet the final line of the article might just give away what the paper is up to:

Ofcom said its own research confirmed the word was still regarded as highly offensive, adding that it would investigate any complaint made to it.

So despite the Mail calling Ofcom 'toothless' and 'pathetic' on Saturday, the Mail on Sunday appears keen to get its readers to complain to the regulator - particularly because the BBC will be on the receiving end.

Elsewhere in the paper, Peter Hitchens also has his say about this (non) issue in his column. He writes:

Every few weeks a reader writes to me to tell me that the BBC has brushed aside a reasonable complaint. They send me the fat-bottomed, complacent responses, and they share with me their frustration that, in the end, the BBC is accountable to nobody.

He accuses the BBC of replying to complaints with:

smug, unhelpful responses


crass, unresponsive statements

Clearly, when it comes to dealing with complaints, the BBC needs to take lessons from the Mail, the Mail on Sunday, and their owners, Associated Newspapers.

For example, Michael Parkinson said:

'I believe that the persistent delaying tactics of the Daily Mail were both unattractive and unworthy of a national should not have taken nine months nor been so difficult for the editor to apologise promptly.'

Or how about the Mail's response when Richard Littlejohn claimed:

Most robberies in this country have been carried out by Eastern European gangs.

They didn't reply with crass or smug statements to a reader who complained - because for six weeks, they didn't reply at all. And when they did, they tried to every tactic they could think of to dilute the wording of the apology.

Then there was Richard Wilson's lengthy effort to get a clarification from the Mail over a column on asbestos. Wilson wrote:

After a delay of several weeks, the PCC forwarded me a dismissive response from the Daily Mail's executive managing editor, Robin Esser. While acknowledging some minor errors, Esser insisted that the disputed HSE study did indeed back up Booker's views on asbestos. The fact that the HSE had put out a statement explicitly rebutting this merely proved that "those responsible for HSE press releases are similarly unable to grasp the significance of findings published by their own statisticians". For good measure, Esser accused me (falsely, just in case you're wondering) of being "allied to a well-organised and well-funded commercial lobby", who "stand to benefit financially" from the "anti-asbestos campaign".

He adds:

More time-consuming exchanges followed, with long gaps in between, while we awaited a response from the Daily Mail. In the end we won, sort of...But to get even this far has taken seven months, and a substantial time investment, while the Daily Mail seems to have been able to drag the process out with impunity.

What about the experience of Juliet Shaw:

they stood by their article and told me that they would not enter into any further correspondence with me and considered the matter closed.

And Cherie Blair:

Associated Newspapers failed to provide a full and unequivocal apology, or even to give a substantive response to her complaint

And Sophie Dahl:

she is seeking aggravated damages, in part, as the paper failed to apologise to her or respond to a letter of complaint.

Dismissive, unhelpful and accountable to nobody, indeed...