Showing posts with label children. Show all posts
Showing posts with label children. Show all posts

Thursday, 19 July 2012

MailOnline and a photo of a nine-year-old girl in tears

From the Street of Shame column in issue 1318 of Private Eye:

“I believe absolutely that one of the main responsibilities of the new regulatory system should be to ensure that the editors’ code is followed both in spirit and the letter by all newspapers, magazines and, importantly, their online versions,” said Paul Dacre in his submission to the Leveson inquiry.

The Mail editor was referring to the Press Complaints Commission’s code and opining on how the press should be regulated. But one morning’s evidence at the end of last month revealed how well that works out in practice when it comes to Dacre’s own domain. 

Crying and holding a bunch of flowers
Media lawyer Giles Crown gave evidence on behalf of Edward Bowles, whose 11-year-old son Sebastian was one of the 28 people, most of them children, who were killed in a coach crash in Switzerland in March. On 15 March, the family were preparing to visit the scene of the crash when an agency photographer took a long-lens photograph of their nine-year-old daughter Helena, who was crying and holding a bunch of flowers she planned to leave at the site of her brother’s death. 

The photograph, captioned “Relatives of victims leave the hotel”, clearly violated clauses 3 (privacy), 5 (intrusion into grief or shock) and 6 (children) of the editors’ code of which Dacre is so fond – and yet the only UK newspaper to use it was the Daily Mail, on its website MailOnline.

Picture kept up for more than three months
The following day Mr Crown, a friend of the Bowles family, contacted both the PCC and editors, including Paul Dacre, on their behalf, to request that “all private photographs of the family… are removed immediately from all media websites, and there is no further publication whatsoever of any such photographs. In particular, there must be no more taking or publication of any photographs of Helena.” 

After a follow-up email sent to “two individuals at the Mail and a general editor’s or news email address as well” two days later, the paper did agree to remove some photographs it had acquired from Mr Bowles’s Facebook account. The picture of the distressed nine-year-old, however, was kept up for more than three months. 

While the inquiry was only able to establish that it had been available online until 19 June, the Eye can reveal that it was only finally pulled from the paper’s website at 11.32am on 25 June – precisely 24 hours before Lord Justice Leveson was due to hear evidence about the case. That evening, Mail managing editor Alex Bannister wrote to the Bowles family to apologise and to point out that at least “this photograph was not published in the Daily Mail” – where it would have been viewed by a mere 1.9m readers, as opposed to the 91.7m monthly users the website boasts. He also claimed that it had been “removed from our website as soon as we became aware that its subject was Helena”. 

The Mail’s excuse was that it thought the paparazzo snap might instead have been of a different, foreign under-ten grieving for their lost sibling. So that’s all right, then.

(The Guardian's report on Giles Crown's evidence to Leveson is here.)

Friday, 9 October 2009

Mail invites readers to look at 'sickening' attack on schoolgirl

The Mail's latest attempt to link Facebook to the end of civilisation as we know it comes with the story of a so-called 'happy slap' attack by a school bully on a fourteen year old girl, which was filmed and posted on the site.

But here's the headline:

'Sickening footage'? So sickening, the Mail doesn't post the actual video.

Just six all-action screenshots:

Sickening indeed.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Mail wants you to check out a teenager's bum

The Mail is reporting that a school in Nailsea has been sending female pupils home because they are wearing inappropriate trousers.

Several girls have been told off for wearing 'too tight' pairs of 'Miss Sexy'-branded trousers, and ordered to buy normal school issue ones.

The Mail decides to illustrate the story with a picture of one of the pupils, 14 year old Alex Dalby, with her back, and therefore bum, to camera.

The caption asks:

Too tight for school? Alex Dalby models the ''Miss Sexy' trousers

Is the Mail actually encouraging readers to look at this young teenager's bum, and see if her trousers are indeed 'too tight'?

More disturbing still is a comment from Dan Wilson in Bath:

Seems like Dan was just the audience the Mail were after...

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Recommended - how dare we try to teach healthy relationships in schools

Two excellent posts from the Daily Quail - one the Mail's latest bizarre BBC and ageism and Strictly Come Dancing nonsense, and on today's awful Mail front page complaining about teaching children about wife-beating.

Here's how James Slack's story begins:

Pupils as young as five will be taught about the evils of 'wife beating' and the need to form healthy relationships.

The lessons are part of a controversial drive, unveiled today, to reduce violence against women and young girls.

Controversial? How can that be in any way controversial?

Slack and the Mail - sometimes it's just beyond parody.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Facebook terror continues

The Mail's latest example of Facebook signalling the end of the world is a party that turned into a 'riot'. They aren't the only ones who covered it - Google News shows the Guardian, Mirror, BBC, PA, Scotsman and Telegraph did too.

But the presentation of the Mail's story deserves comment. For one thing they claim there were '150 unwanted guests' which - added to the wanted ones, suggests a far larger gathering than Hampshire Police who said it was 100. Indeed, the police claim 30 people were involved in anti-social behaviour and not all 150 as the Mail implies.

The party was organised by two neighbours - 17 year old Jordan Wright and 15 year old Seva Nurueva. Here's the Mail's third sentence:
But far from regretting the damage and disturbance caused by the party, one of the teenage organisers said: 'It was wicked.'
Which may well be accurate, but is it the whole story? The Mail goes on to quote a concerned neighbour and Ms Nurueva's dad, who expresses his outrage. But why do they not quote Seva herself?

Because in both the BBC and Guardian versions, she says:
'We are really sorry for all the damage we caused. It was scary - I did not really know what to do. All I did was cry.'
But because the Mail wants to portray all kids as feral and out of control, it chooses to ignore her apology and regret, and instead focus on the other idiot. Because young people, with their Facebook, are sure to get Mail readers in a tizzy.

So much so, that one commentator on the Mail story writes:
Time to get rid of the internet. It's far to dangerous. We survived long before it was around and will long after it's gone.
- sub, london, 20/7/2009 11:55
Surely, surely that's a joke?

Thursday, 2 July 2009

The Sun did nothing wrong in the Alfie Patten case, says PCC

The PCC has decided it will do absolutely nothing about the Sun's 'Dad at 13' Alfie Patten front page.

To recap - the Sun spashes on its front page a completely untrue story, without apparently doing any research and background checks, and the body that regulates the press says it can't censure the paper.

The PCC is hiding behind the court restrictions that were imposed because of the intrusive and potentially damaging nature of the story, which they claim 'effectively precluded both further approaches to the families and the publication of any new information'.

But since the Sun has itself printed a story saying Alfie was not the father, surely this statement by the PCC is mealy-mouthed bullshit.

The story was false - the paper has admitted it. The PCC can give them a (feeble) slap on the wrists on that basis alone. But it won't.

What a great system.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Papers attack school for tackling homophobic bullying

A primary school in Kent has been the latest unfortunate victim of the homophobia rife in most of the media.

Bromstone Primary held a thirty minute assembly on bullying for its 5 to 11 year old pupils. It covered, according to the Mail, issues of 'race, language and weight' and sexuality. Here's how it has been reported:

Anger as school tells children aged five about gay the sound of Elton John (Mail)
Outrage over gay assembly (Sun)
Primary school children given gay assembly with Elton John song (Telegraph)

None of the headlines mention to any other element of the assembly, indeed in referring to it as a 'gay assembly' suggests there was no other element to it. Why did none of them call it a 'fat assembly'?

No doubt Littlejohn is already firing out his column for next week about this: 'PC gone mad' and how the PC brigade want to turn all your children gay. And that seems to be gist of these stories too.

There are three mothers who are quoted as being upset in every story. The school's head reveals 'many parents had congratulated the school in tackling the issue in such a sensitive way' but this doesn't get anything like the same coverage as the mothers' 'outrage'.

And there seems to be some dispute over whether there were four year olds in the assembly too. The Mail (and a commentator in the the thisiskent site) say not, the Telegraph says yes and the Sun breaks out the bold caps to say 'some of them as young as FOUR'.

Only a week ago Stonewall Cymru launched a report saying 65% of secondary school pupils in Wales had been bullied because of their sexuality. When the schools attempt to tackle this, certain disgraceful newspapers lambast them for trying. It is almost impossible to comprehend how the media can attack schools for attempting to save kids from the horror of bullying.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Look how shocking this is! No, REALLY look!

The tabloids - especially the Mail - do have a habit of writing a story which says 'isn't this shocking?' and then provides copious amounts of pictures to prove just how shocking it is.

For example, many years ago, the Mail ran several pages of comment and screenshots revealing how shocked it told us we must be about Channel Five's infamous gameshow Naked Jungle.

But this seems rather more serious. The article Teen beauty contest that lists vital statistics branded 'a shop window for sex offenders' gives details of a competition called Miss Teen Queen UK, an online beauty pageant for 13-19 year old girls. The 'quote' in the headline is adapted from comments made by the Director of Kidscape.

The problem is in the first paragraph, which reads: 'A beauty pageant has been labelled a 'shop window for sex offenders' by a leading children's charity after it published the breast sizes of girl entrants as young as 13.'

And how does the Mail choose to illustrate this story? With a screenshot of one contestant's profile - and it's readable. So although her face is pixelated, her 32B chest measurement isn't. If the Mail finds it so repulsive for the organisers to publish 'the breast sizes of girl entrants as young as 13' why publish the breast size of this 15 year old on its website? (Also seen are her waist and hip measurements, and her dress size.)

The Mail uses two other pictures from the site - one a young girl with face pixelated (although easily identifiable, if you wish to find her) and a screenshot of the website homepage, where one of the models has her top unbuttoned quite low.

What the Mail wants to do is not only be appalled, but also 'prove' how evil the internet is (again). At least it's not Facebook this time. But the use of these particular images seems gratuitous and rather creepy - if the Mail really finds this so awful, why use screenshots revealing what it is most complaining about?

It's likely the Teen Queen site has had more hits today as a result of the Mail story than at any time previously. It is, at time of writing, the eighth most read story on their site. So are they really concerned that this website is a 'shop window for sex offenders'? Because they appear to be doing all they can to point people to that window for a look.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Those apologies in full

More on Alfie Patten later, but still no apology from The Sun. Apparently, the paper is going to set up a trust fund for him. Max Clifford, who is representing the family, said on Radio 4 that: 'My understanding is that they [The Sun] haven't paid him [Alfie] any money at all.'

His 'understanding'? Either they have or they haven't. I don't believe Clifford doesn't know.

Meanwhile the Mail on Sunday has apologised for suggesting Tessa Jowell corrupt - only took a month for them to admit that error.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Sun - not the most truthful in Britain

Ten minutes ago, a breaking news email from The Sun pinged into my inbox. It revealed that Alfie Patten, who a few months ago was reported, by The Sun, to be the youngest Dad in Britain at 13, ummm, isn't.

DNA tests have proved he wasn't the father. DNA tests have also proved that The Sun published a wholly inaccurate front page story and hasn't, in light of this 'new' development, apologised.

I say 'new' because as the rest of the world knew this on 27 March, when it was all over Google News.

I'm not sure how this has come to be reported now, as there was an injunction banning publication of further details of the case, but all will be revealed in time.

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Mail's unsettling interest in a child

There's something not quite right about the Daily Mail calling a 14 year old girl 'stunning'.

Friday, 27 March 2009

News you won't read in the UK papers (yet!)

Hear that? It's the court-ordered silence around the reporting of the case of the 'youngest dad in Britain'. As anyone looking at Google News will know, there have been significant developments about this case today. But I'm not enough of an expert to know what can and can't be said here...

But it does seem ridiculous when American, Australian, Indian papers can report it and they can be easily found online. How does a court order work in the internet age? Because it doesn't seem to at all. (It seems the Mirror did print this story, but have removed it from their website, although it still can be found in a Google search!)

As I mentioned on this blog before, the story didn't feel right from the start and The Sun were ridiculously stupid for running the story in the first place without proper fact-checking. They have been complicit in exploiting this child and that is totally unforgivable. But they've got the most popular website of any newspaper now, so I bet they don't give a toss.

And as for the PCC investigation - what is that going to come up with? Another slap on the wrists for The Sun. Well, that'll learn 'em.

It will be good to look at all those columnists who threw up their hands in horror at the original story and highlight how ridiculous they all sound now.

And of course Max Clifford was involved. I know he is deemed beyond criticism these days because of his work with St Jade of Goody. But serious questions need to be asked about how the newspapers bow and scrape to his every whim.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Mail misleads on story until last paragraph

Boy aged TWO is youngest Briton to be threatened with an Asbo after he is accused of verbally abusing adults, says the Mail, shaking its head at the latest evidence of the feral, out-of-control kids in broken Britain.

A boy aged two has become the youngest Briton ever to be threatened with an Asbo.

Lennon Poyser received the warning along with his sisters Olivia, five, and four-year-old Megan, after neighbours complained about their behaviour.

The three tiny tearaways have been accused of verbally abusing adult residents and damaging property.

A shocking story. But, er, not true. As the Mail itself confirms in the very last paragraph. Insp Dave Legg from Lincolnshire Police says:

'It has since been brought to our attention that the letter sent in error was received by a family with a child of two years of age, this was clearly not intended and we apologise for any distress this may have caused.'

So it was all mistake. The story appears to have been 'two year old mistakenly threatened with ASBO', but somewhere the 'mistakenly' was missed out and the family became the target.

The comments posted by the Mail readers are just as sloppy and appalling, as many clearly haven't bothered to read to the end of the story and just attacked the young mother. [EDIT - have noticed Jonathan at No Sleep til Brooklands has done a good job on this story and the comments]

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

If Alfie the new Shannon?

Since The Sun splashed Alfie Patten, the 13yo father with a 15yo girlfriend all over their front page on Friday 13 Feb, the story has never quite seemed right.

The extracts of the phone interview with Alfie played on the news made clear his voice hadn't broken and he simply didn't sound like a 13yo - he didn't, for example, know what financially meant. He clearly doesn't look 13, and in every story written so far, The Sun have added 'who looks no older than eight'. Why not 'doesn't look his age' or 'doesn't look like a teenager'? Why always 'no older than eight'?

Do they know something we don't?

Various follow-on stories have suggested that the 15yo mother may have slept with 6 boys, while another claimed The Sun reneged on a £25,000 payment to give the family £10,000. The PCC have said they will look into that, as payments to children are not allowed.

There is something horrendous about parading this poor kid around the front pages of the tabloids - and both his parents and The Sun are responsible for that.

But but but...this may be terrible snobbery but does anyone else have a sneaking feeling that this is all money-making scheme by the family? Although it's a lot less serious, is anyone else thinking: 'Shannon Matthews'?

If these suspicions are correct I can't wait to see all the apologies from all those gullible columnists (Phillips, Moore, the usual awful ones) who have highlighted the case to have a go at the morals of our kids and the state of sex education.