Monday, 8 February 2010

The Independent: tabloid by size, tabloid by content

When the News of the World ran a front page story about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie 'splitting up' on 24 January, other media outlets fell over themselves to follow up.

There didn't seem to be much evidence of any of them stopping to ask whether it was true or not. They just wanted to get in on the story as quickly as possible.

Today, the couple's lawyer announced they were going to sue the News of the World over what he called 'false as well as intrusive' claims.

He said:

'The News of the World has failed to meet our clients' reasonable demands for a retraction of and apology for these false and intrusive allegations which have now been widely republished by mainstream news outlets. We have advised them to bring proceedings, which they have now done.'

Following the News of the World's splash, the Mail seemed to think 'everyone' was talking about the story. And a couple of days later, the Mail certainly was talking about it again, reporting the 'ridiculous split' rumours with the same gusto and straight face it reported the, ahem, split rumours ('Will he go back to his ex?') in the first place.

That's not that surprising from an organisation that has become obsessed with paper-thin sleb gossip and sleazy pap shots in a desperate attempt to boost its website visitor numbers.

More surprising was the way the Independent scraped the bottom of the barrel with a dreadful feature on the saga.

That the paper was bothering to dedicate the whole of page nine to something that might have happened, but which equally might not have happened, shows how far it has fallen since Roger Alton took over as Editor.

It's not just that this was purely speculation - and speculation about something so thoroughly unimportant - but the article itself was dreadful.

They had Amy Jenkins, writer of This Life, paying 'tribute' to the relationship which wasn't (and it appears, isn't) actually dead. She wrote:

They seemed to have it all, but, crucially, they got their comeuppance. Now that's entertainment.

It's not immediately obvious what is 'entertaining' about a couple with six kids ending their relationship. But you just get the impression Jenkins simply doesn't like Jolie.

She says:

Jolie, arguably, has never made a good film

Of course, any opinion is 'arguable', but is that really fair? Certainly in recent years she has made critically-acclaimed films such as A Mighty Heart and Changeling, and Kung Fu Panda, Beowulf, Wanted and Mr & Mrs Smith have their fans.

Yes, she's made a lot of dross, but then Jenkins was responsible for This Life +10 which The Times described as:

Terrible. Witless. Insubstantial. Saggy. Navel-gazing. Or, as Anna might have put it in better days, after taking a large gulp of red, “Total f****** b******s.”

Glass houses and all that. She goes on to say:

Neither Pitt nor Jolie has won an Oscar.

That's true in Pitt's case - although he has had two nominations. But what about the Best Supporting Actress statuette Jolie won for Girl, Interrupted? Conveniently (possibly idiotically), Jenkins has forgotten about that because that wouldn't fit her agenda - which appears to be to blame Jolie for everything. How very Daily Mail to blame the woman.

She blames Jolie for ruining Pitt's career saying it has:

been pretty much in the pits ever since.

See what she did there?

Yeh, she got it wrong again. In the past five years, Pitt produced the Oscar-winning The Departed, and A Mighty Heart, and starred in Burn After Reading, Babel, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Ocean's Thirteen and Inglourious Basterds, all of which score highly on Rotten Tomatoes.

Yes, they may not be to everyone's taste, but to say that is a career in the pits is clearly nonsense.

It's not just that it's all inaccurate, it's that a supposedly quality newspaper was filling pages with such drivel. A story on the Afghanistan parliamentary elections was given half the space, 16 pages further back. They found room for Jenkins on Monday, but not for an obituary of Jean Simmons, who had died on Saturday.

Now that really is the pits.


  1. That's a pretty dismal factual error to make about Jolie not winning an Oscar - and besides, Cary Grant never won an Oscar but Catherine Zeta Jones has, it doesn't make her a better actor.

    Wanted is terrible though!

  2. Charlie - I didn't personally rate Wanted either, but it seems lots of people did.

    It's a dismal error in a dismal article. But it seems they have removed the Oscar error from the online version now.

  3. Came here to say that Brad Pitt was awesome in Burn After Reading. Ta!

  4. One can only hope that having opted to sue the NotW they start proceedings against these other crappy media outlets. Given the willful manner in which papers now distort and lie - the NotW being particularly bad about weighing up cost of legal action for an article known to be erroneous against uplift in sales, PR value and ad revenues - then money seems to be the only thing they understand. Some seriously punitive court costs may force them to reconsider the manner they play fast and loose with facts and lives (particularly those not in the position to take legal action).

    BTW how about a NotW Watch - just to keep track of the number of court actions being taken against them, the number they lose (currently it appears to be 100%) and the costs paid out...might be interesting...

  5. that's sad about jean simmons. she was great. despite a slightly discomfiting performance in black narcissus!

    women journalists really seem to have it in for angelina jolie. i mean, if you are goin to criticise her then criticise her for her and pitt's crappy behavour in namibia (see marina hyde). but all this bitchy, gossipy nastiness about her that kind of comes from some weird protective feeling towards brad pitt, it's silly.


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.