Thursday, 29 October 2009

Pointless stories round up

Yesterday's Daily Express front page headline tried to get readers upset about an 'EU income tax' which the story made clear didn't exist.

The day before that, the front page was this:

It's hard to know exactly when 'it might be warm for a few days' became something to stick on the front page of a newspaper. Can you imagine the editorial meeting that decided that a prediction of what the weather might be like in two days is regarded as the most important news event of the day?

And it wasn't as if the prediction (70F on Thursday) was even accurate. According to the Met Office website, London temperatures got to 64F for about one hour, but otherwise it's been 62F or under.

So the Express' use of terms like 'basking', 'glorious' and 'balmy', accompanied by a picture of a (white) family making sandcastles, looks even more ridiculous now than it did on Tuesday. And it's not as if the Met Office spokesman didn't warn them:

Temperatures will peak on Thursday with 66-68F (19-20C) – even 70F (21C) at a squeeze

So '70F at a squeeze' becomes 'Britain gets 70F Indian summer'. Brilliant.

Today, the Express comes up with this for the front page:

Although this one does appear to be based in fact, is the news that a dog has been killed really worthy of a front page? Yes, it's an unpleasant event and yes, the teenage owner is no doubt devastated. But front page news?

The story begins:

Animal welfare campaigners were left shocked and stunned last night after a teenage yob stamped a puppy to death in front of its owner.

Not just 'shocked'. Not just 'stunned'. But 'shocked and stunned'.

It continues:

the Jack Russell, its tail wagging, wandered over to three teenage boys in jeans and hooded tops.Suddenly and for no reason, one of the gang callously stamped on the tiny animal’s head.

'Its tail wagging'? How much more emotive do they want to get? But note how the story says 'teenage yob' and 'one of the gang', yet the front page headline said 'thugs'.

So one vile little sod kills a puppy and this makes the Express ask 'what has happened to this country?' Must be the fault of Labour and the immigrants.

The story also contains an interesting use of the term 'social commentators':

But social commentators warned that such behaviour was only symptomatic of the wider problem of Britain’s hooligan culture.

Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling said...

Tory MP Philip Davies was also appalled by the attack.

And apart from an RSPCA spokeswoman, no one else is quoted. Since when did MPs - Conservative or otherwise - become billed as 'social commentators'?

The Express could have run with the story about the latest bomb blasts in Pakistan, which the Guardian put on its front page. But clearly 101 dead Muslims are regarded as less important than one dead Jack Russell.

Or, for a paper which boasts a poppy on its masthead, it could have led with the Nimrod inquiry which uncovered 'lamentable' failures by senior military figures led to the deaths of 14 service personnel in Afghanistan in 2006.

But the Express decides neither of these stories is important enough. So it goes with the dead pup and, also on the front page, the news that a well-loved but (whisper it) not very good actress is leaving a soap.

The Express really is a dire excuse for a newspaper.

But in terms of articles of mind-numbing pointlessness, yesterday's Mail might take some beating (although it has since appeared in other papers). If you're a Sagittarian, you are twice as likely to hit the big time turned up on page five of the Mail. And what's it about? Believe it or not, this:

Researchers analysed the zodiac signs of 100 celebrities from the past and present, looking for those who made their big breakthrough in their youth.

They discovered those born under Sagittarius are twice as likely to hit the big time than those born under any other sign.

Yes, that's right. It's almost impossible to know how civilisation has managed to get to this point without this knowledge. Forget gravity, this is what the world really needed to know. It's not just an excuse to put a picture of Sagittarian Britney Spears in the paper and plug the Cartoon Network, who did the 'survey'. Honest.

With such a statistically insignificant sample, another 100 would almost certainly find another star sign out in front. And yet this 'story' is what the Mail decided had to go on page five of its paper yesterday.

Page five.


  1. How brilliant of Cainer to agree with the findings retrospectively. I'm sure he was just about to predict it himself.

  2. An update on the puppy story;

    "An inquiry into the "kicking to death" of a 10-week-old puppy has ended after police found the animal had died from a virus and showed no sign of injury."

    Coming soon to an Express front-page near you, I'm sure.


Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.

Comments are moderated - generally to filter out spam and comments wishing death on people - but other messages will be approved as quickly as possible.