Sunday 29 May 2011

Mail continues to prove 'burying corrections' is no myth

The PCC has just published details of another apology by the Mail, which was published on 3 May 2011:

A report carried online on 25 March (Fisherman husband of Tory MP drowns after becoming tangled up in his own net) stated that it was believed that Neil Murray, husband of East Cornwall MP Sheryll Murray, had drowned after falling overboard. We now understand that this was incorrect, and that Mr Murray was found on board his vessel. We are sorry for the error.

Once again, the Mail has placed this apology in the US section of its website. This is (at least) the fourth time this has happened during May, although one of these has since been moved to a more appropriate place.

It was only on 2 February 2011 that the PCC issued new guidance on online prominence. It states:

editors should give consideration to appropriate placement on the relevant section where the original article appeared (such as the "news" or "showbusiness" section, for example).

And on 2 December 2010, the Editor's Code of Practice Committee, which oversees the Code policed by the PCC, announced a rule change on corrections that was:

designed to help kill the myth that newspapers and magazines routinely bury corrections.

If that is a 'myth', why has the Mail website been routinely placing corrections to British stories in the US section of its website?

The Chair of the Code of Practice Committee is Paul Dacre.

The editor-in-chief of the Mail is Paul Dacre.

If any publication should be taking the lead in making sure retractions are not buried, shouldn't it be the Mail?

Tabloid complains about 'perving' over Pippa

Today's Daily Star Sunday front page looks like this:

The 'story' at the top of the page shows it isn't just the Mail that is obsessed with The Only Way Is Essex. This being the Star, the headline seems to imply that Jordan is to 'join' the show. In fact, she just happens (ahem) to be on holiday in the same place as some of the TOWIE cast.

In the Star's article, it includes the 'news' that:

Reports claimed Amy was set to quit the show to star in her own reality series about her life in the spotlight.

And where did those 'reports' appear?

Ah. Still, at least the Star has 'exclusively' revealed the truth:

But she exclusively told us: “I’m not leaving and I love being on the show.”

And by 'exclusively', they mean, she told her 300,000 followers on Twitter she wasn't leaving. Five days ago.

That tweet was picked up by the MailOnline's regular Twitter-watcher Georgina Littlejohn, who leapt into action to produce 'I'm not leaving': Amy Childs denies reports she has quit The Only Way Is Essex. So someone denying an untrue story in one paper becomes a story for another media outlet.

Georgina, who coincidentally works for the same news outlet as her dad Richard, explained:

Amy Childs has come out in defence of reports that she has quit the show after a bust-up with Mark Wright over hogging the limelight at the awards.

'In defence of reports'?

Anyway, back to the Daily Star Sunday's front page, and their lead story Pippa pervs: Sick German's target Royal sister. The article explains:

Royal sister Pippa Middleton got the Pip last night after an undie-Hans attack by a kinky German snapper.

And the paper is so appalled by this disgraceful behaviour, it reveals exactly where you can see the photos:

Pictures revealing her panties were spread across Germany’s biggest selling Bild newspaper yesterday and all over its website, which can be accessed by British readers.

The article continues:

The briefs encounter – proudly dubbed the “Panties Blitzer” by the newspaper – shows Pippa revealing all as she gets into a car in London last week.

“When the 27-year-old beauty on Wednesday in London rose in her car, she accidentally granted a glimpse of her panties,” leers the paper in its English language version.

Imagine that? Surely no British newspaper would be so 'sick' as to 'leer' over Pippa Middleton?

Well, the Daily Star has referred to 'perky Pippa' and 'Her Royal Hotness', and called her 'sexy' and 'queen of the hotties' with a 'banging body' and the 'phwoar factor'. They've said her bum is her 'biggest ass-et' and have at least twice published pictures just focussing on her bum, including one that was on the front page. The latest was this one which came attached to an article that included a suspiciously anonymous quote:

And it's not just Bild's 'perving' that the paper is (not really) outraged about:

And the mangled caption continues: “With their unwanted Panties Blitzer, Pippa to its reputation as ‘Her Royal Hotness’ fair – not only the British are very excited about her sexy appearance.”

The caption is 'mangled', of course, because the Daily Star Sunday hack has simply clicked Google Translate and copied and pasted that translation.

And who is the hack responsible for this lazy, pathetic, hypocritical nonsense?

It's ex-News of the World Royal Correspondent, and former jailbird and phone-hacker Clive Goodman.

Who better to complain, in a Sunday red-top, about such an invasion of privacy?

Friday 27 May 2011

No escape

The Mail website asks:

'TOWIE' refers to The Only Way Is Essex, a 'constructed reality' show that is broadcast on ITV2. In the week ending 8 May, BARB records viewing figures of 1.5m - the second most-watched programme on the channel.

Therefore, it should be fairly easy to 'escape' from the programme.

But there seems to be little escape from 'news' about the cast members of TOWIE if you ever browse the Mail website. On 24 May (at around 8pm) there were six articles about the show on the homepage.

Indeed, since the 23 May, the Mail website has published all this:

And what fascinating stuff it is, too.

Even by the usual standards of MailOnline chief Martin 'news is far more important to us than showbiz' Clarke, 22 articles in just over four days seems a little over-the-top.

But the fact that the cast are currently on holiday in Marbella means the Mail can publish even more pictures of young bikini-clad women on their website.

Of course, at times the Mail pretends to be appalled by the show. It pretends to ask, with a sigh, 'is there no escape?' while also 'reporting' on every bikini change. After it won the Audience Award Bafta earlier this week, Claudia Connell lamented:

watching shallow, vain, dim people being shallow, vain and dim is only entertaining for a few minutes. And not in a ‘so bad it’s good’ kind of way.

Then she added:

TOWIE owes its success to a youth audience, a youth vote and incredibly good PR that ensures that the Day-Glo cast are never out of the headlines, whether they’re falling drunkenly out of nightclubs or making bitchy comments about one another in interviews.

'Never out of the headlines'.


Thursday 26 May 2011

Sorry we stated that you said babies born at 23 weeks should be left to die

An apology from the Mail to Dr Daphne Austin, published on 20 May:

Statements contained in an article published on 7 March, headed “Babies who are born at 23 weeks should be left to die, says NHS chief”, were wrongly attributed to Dr Daphne Austin, who is a medical consultant specialist employed by the NHS.

They were made in a programme in which Dr Austin participated and were published by us in good faith. In particular, Dr Austin did not state that babies should be “left to die” and did not express the opinion that the financial aspects of neonatal care were the issue. We apologise to Dr Austin for the errors.

As with two other recent apologies, the Mail has buried this in the US section of its website.

UPDATE: The Mail finally moved this apology from the US section of their website to their health pages at 3:26pm today. But here's a screenshot to prove the original position:

The other two apologies mentioned above have not yet been moved...

(Huge thanks to the tens of thousands of people who have visited, and tweeted links to, this blogpost today.)

Wednesday 25 May 2011

Mail's Call of Duty 'fury'

The Mail's sensationalist reporting about video games continues with an article about the latest instalment of Call of Duty:

It seems that headline has been changed, and toned down, at least once - the URL reveals the Mail originally said the game 'recreates 7/7 Tube bomb attacks' rather than 'features 7/7 Tube bomb-style attacks'.

The article explains:

In one particularly vivid shot, an armed soldier on a truck cuts in front of a Tube carriage, derailing and causing it to explode.

Despite being 'ultra-violent' and causing such 'fury', the Mail has helpfully embedded the game's trailer at the end of their article. It does indeed show a truck ramming into a Tube train and causing it to derail.

But there's no explosion of that Tube carriage in the trailer. There's no bomb attack. There's no suicide bomb attack. There's no recreation of 7/7. There's no 7/7 bomb-style attack.

Indeed, the quote that ends the article, from Activision, the makers of the game, makes clear:

'The scenes in the game are entirely fictional and are not intended to recreate any historical events.'

So what of the 'fury'? The Mail claims:

Supporters of those affected by the 7/7 suicide attacks in July 2005, which killed 52 people, called for Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 to be banned.

It's not clear who these 'supporters' are. The article only manages to produce one outrage quote and that comes from Mail favourites Mediawatch-UK. And although they say, rather predictably, that the game is in 'incredibly poor taste' they don't actually say it should be banned. Nor does anyone else in the article.

(More on the Mail's article from Minority Thought and CVG. See also a CVG post on the Mail's misleading article 'Playing football games on computers 'makes you more aggressive'' from a few weeks ago.)

Mail on Sunday retracts story on Henman's BBC fee

Mail on Sunday, 15 May 2011:

Mail on Sunday, 22 May 2011:

On May 15 we said Tim Henman was being paid £200,000 by the BBC for commentating at Wimbledon this year. In fact we have been informed that his fee will be substantially less than that. We apologise for the mistake and are happy to set the record straight.

The original claims were repeated by the Express, Mirror and Star, but while they have all deleted their articles, the Mail on Sunday (by Lara Gould) one remains online.

Friday 20 May 2011

No EU 'plot' to 'ban' shopping bags

Today's Express reveals the latest EU 'plot' to ban something:

The main headline - that this is a ban on 'shopping bags' - is at least clarified in the sub-head, where it becomes a 'plot to scrap plastic carriers'.

And Dana Gloger's article makes clear

The EU was under fire last night for seeking a ban on plastic shopping bags to fight pollution. Shops in Britain could be outlawed from stocking them, or alternatively there might be a new tax to dramatically reduce their use.

Ah, so the EU isn't actually saying 'ban plastic bags' then?

Here's a tweet from Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for the Environment:

So a 'public consultation on reducing plastic bags' becomes the latest EU diktat to ban them outright, according to the Express.

The press release makes clear, in its opening paragraph:

The European Commission is asking the public how best to reduce the use of plastic carrier bags. It will ask if charging and taxation would be effective, or if other options such as an EU-level ban on plastic carrier bags would be better. Opinions will also be sought on increasing the visibility of biodegradable packaging products, and boosting the biodegradability requirements for packaging. The web-based consultation runs until August 2011.

And any citizen, organisation, NGO, university public authority or anyone else can fill in the EU's questionnaire (PDF) during the two-and-a-half month consultation period.

'Do you agree that an EU ban on plastic carrier bags is needed?' is included, along with questions about pricing, whether there should be distinctions between biodegradable and other types of plastic bag and even if it is necessary at all for the EU to act on plastic bags at all.

In other words, the EU has not devised a 'plot' to 'ban bags'.

But the comments on the Express' website makes clear that their loyal readers have swallowed their spin on the story completely, including JeffreyB:

Thursday 19 May 2011

Express gets it wrong - but doesn't apologise

Buried at the bottom of page 30 of today's Daily Express is the following correction:

Our article of May 14, 2011, "Drama teacher jailed for lesbian affair with pupil'" included a photograph said to be that of Caroline French, the teacher jailed for having an affair with a 13 year old girl.

The photograph was not of Ms French but of someone wholly unconnected to the case.

Is it really beyond the Express to apologise for such an error?

Thursday 12 May 2011

Churnalism to sell diet food

The Mirror says:

The Express says:

Meanwhile, the Mail says:

Each very similar article reveals the same results of the same 'survey' in much the same language. The Mail explains:

a survey has revealed that women don't think it is acceptable to wear bikinis on the beach once they reach 47...

the survey also revealed that women believe - perhaps a little unfairly - that miniskirts are a 'no-no' on anyone aged 35 or more and that high heels should not be worn by anyone over 51.

All three also use the same quotes from Caron Leckie, a representative of the organisation that commissioned the poll:

'It's up to individuals to choose when they should stop wearing certain's very much personal choice.'

Right - so the point of this survey is what, exactly?

But then she adds:

'Saying that, everyone wants to look the best they can and now is the prime time to get in shape for summer....the secret to looking good is healthy eating'

And with that, the point of all this becomes clear. The organisation that commissioned the poll is in the diet food business. It explains:

We make dieting easy, we measure, count calories, cook, pack, ship and deliver delicous diet food straight to your door.

No wonder it wants to put 'getting in shape' and 'healthy eating' into people's minds.

So they produce some survey results, send out a press release that's copy-and-pasted into several newspapers - with the Mirror and Express generously putting it on their front pages - and then watch as their business gets lots of free publicity. It's dismal, but all too common.

Oh, and wasn't it Mail editor Paul Dacre who once told parliament his paper was 'not guilty' of churnalism?

Misleading claims about benefits claimants corrected

Full Fact complained to the Press Complaints Commission about articles in the Mail, Telegraph and Sun about incapacity benefit claimant numbers.

Full Fact report that although all three have agreed to run corrections:

we again found that the papers’ reluctance to acknowledge the error made the correction process longer and harder than it needed to be

Here's the Mail's correction:

In common with other newspapers, an article on 11 February reported official Department of Work and Pensions figures which suggested that 68 per cent of incapacity claimants were receiving benefits despite being fit for work.

While 29 per cent were found fit for work straight away, the other 39 per cent were assessed as being unable to work now but able to work in the foreseeable future.

We are happy to clarify the position.

'Happy to clarify the position' yet they've taken three months to do it...

Moreover, not only did the Mail fail to link to this correction on their lengthy home page, they have buried it in the US section of their website:

(Hat-tip to Jim Hawkins and the person who left an anonymous comment)

Pippa, privacy and perving

On Monday, the Guardian revealed that the Middleton's had complained to the Press Complaints Commission on the issue of privacy:

...after five-year-old photographs of Kate and Pippa Middleton and their mother, Carole, in bikinis while on holiday with Prince William on board a yacht off Ibiza were published in four newspapers.

The pictures, in the Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail, News of the World and Daily Mirror showed the Middletons swimming, diving and sunbathing. The News of the World also showed Pippa Middleton removing her bikini top with the headlines "Oh buoy it's Pippa" and "So hot she had to be hosed down." Further photographs were displayed for a time on the newspaper's website but later taken down.

Undeterred, today's Daily Star devotes 576 words to....Pippa Middleton's bum. Or, as middle-aged hack Nigel Pauley refers to it in his leering article, the 27-year old's:

biggest ass-et.

Their front page includes a close-up shot of her bum - taken from one of the holiday photos mentioned above - accompanied by the headline 'So bot's happened to perky Pippa?':

The article is shockingly bad:

Fans fear Her Royal Hotness Pippa Middleton is in danger of losing her biggest ass-et. They believe her rear end is performing its own VIP disappearing act as she seeks a more slimline figure.

...her fans fear the posh totty is losing her famous botty as the weight seems to have tumbled off the 27-year-old since her big sister Kate’s wedding.
Pippa had been seen as a shoe-in to land this year’s coveted Rear Of The Year award.

But now her chances are disappearing, along with her curves.
She has returned from a sunshine holiday and yesterday looking tanned but trim as she left hairdresser Richard Ward’s salon in Chelsea.

One of her bottom’s biggest fans said: “Pippa’s top of the botts but is definitely looking a lot more trim in recent days.

“It would be a tragedy if her slimline figure results in her losing her best asset, which is definitely her gorgeous behind.”

So Pauley has trawled the internet and (allegedly) found one person to quote on this all-important topic. But how has this anonymous person (from an unnamed website) seen her in 'recent days' if she's been on holiday?

And can 'the weight' really have 'tumbled off' her in the two weeks since the wedding? Well, not according to the pictures published in today's Sun, in which she looks much the same. Indeed, the Sun claims Pippa is looking 'ripper' and is 'sure to gain more admirers in this outfit'.

They also include a quote from an anoynmous 'onlooker' and a photo of Pippa's bum, cropping her head out of the photo just to be clear where their interest lies:

As Steve Baxter says in his New Statesman column:

It seems that P-Middy's derriere has achieved iconic status after appearing at the royal wedding - so much so that the lady, the human being with a soul, to whom it belongs is becoming somewhat dehumanised...

We don't need a face, or eyes, or a person attached to it. This is the arse that rules the world - or our popular culture, anyway...

Is this what it's come to? A whole person's life boiled down to their bum?

Back to the Star, which also devotes a 100-word editorial comment to this non-story:

Pippa Middleton has been a great role model for Brit girls. She’s well educated, polite, caring, is planning her own business and has impressed the world with her beautiful curves. She showed impeccable decorum during the royal wedding. And as a result is a wholesome English rose the whole of Britain can be proud of.

But “her royal hotness” is now looking a little too slim.
And she’s in danger of losing the famous bottom that has earned praise across the globe. Please don’t get too skinny Pippa. You’re perfect the way you are. And a real inspiration to young women everywhere.

Isn't it strange how that anonymous internet fan seems to think the same as the Star's editorial?

'Educated, polite and caring'
she may be, but the paper has already declared that her 'biggest ass-et' is her, err, ass. This follows a series of Star articles where she's been called 'sexy' and 'queen of the hotties' with a 'banging body' and the 'phwoar factor'.

Yes, it's clearly her education they're interested in...

Wednesday 11 May 2011

Health and safety, or conserving a piece of history?

The latest example of the Mail's 'hilarious' misspelling of 'health and safety' appears in this headline:

The article begins

The apple tree which inspired Sir Isaac Newton to develop his theory of gravity has fallen victim to health and safety rules after tens of thousands of visitors damaged its roots.

'Fallen victim to health and safety'? How so?

The 400-year-old Flower of Kent apple tree has had a protective barrier fitted in the grounds of Woolsthorpe Manor, in Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth, Lincolnshire.


The 1ft-tall barrier allows visitors to get close to the tree without causing unnecessary damage to its root system.

National Trust conservation manager Margaret Winn said: 'The tree is getting on for 400 years old and we wanted to protect it.

So is this really health and safety, or a conservation measure to help protect a piece of history?

Ann Moynihan, support officer at the National Trust property of Woolsthorpe manor, said today that the work will protect the tree 'for the future'...

'We now have over 33,000 visitors every year and...
the sheer volume of visitors has compacted the earth around the trunk and affected the roots.

'The willow barrier is an unobtrusive way to protect the tree for future generations to enjoy in the years to come.'


Mrs Moynihan denied the fence... was a response to any health and safety concerns.

It appears a local newspaper article has, once again, been picked up and churned by the Mail with the health and safety 'angle' added on.

At time of writing, there are 22 comments on the Mail's article - apart from one blaming 'Gordon Brown and his EU pc brigade', almost every comment criticises the Mail.

This is 'Tree Hugger' from 'Darkest Kent':

Where does Health & Safety come into it, DM? Why write this story from an 'anti' perspective rather than a 'pro'? This is a willow barrier, sensitively designed to be in keeping with the immediate environment. There's nothing 'H&S' about it. Sounds like a good idea to me.

Akela from Cambridge:

This appears to be about conserving a piece of history and nothing to do with health and safety. Someone got paid to write this rubbish? Good grief.

Stephen in Cambridge:

So "victim" actually means "protected from more damage". What's the weather like on your planet, DM reporters?

And Dave from Grantham:

I love it, being a local lad I've visited Woolsthorpe a few times and have to say I agree with the other comments here, the DM has it totally wrong, read the article and articles in local papers and you realise this barrier is about protecting the tree from the risk of root compaction, nothing more?! At the end of the day a 400yr old tree being visited by over 30,000 people a year, it needs a bit of love and attention!

(Hat-tip to BarnetAkela)

Monday 9 May 2011

They came from the bins...or not

Last week, Richard Littlejohn wrote:

Residents of a street in Exeter have been told to keep their windows closed because of a plague of toxic caterpillars infesting the area. Meanwhile, as a result of the recent spate of Bank Holidays, some dustbins in Exeter haven't been emptied for nearly three weeks. I wonder: could these stories be related?

Of course, you might think a highly-paid newspaper columnist would try and find out, rather than just 'wonder'. Yet this is someone who isn't known for his exhaustive research, but is known for droning on about bins.

So, are these stories related? Exeter's Express & Echo newspaper reports:

A plague of toxic caterpillars has forced residents of one Exeter street to stay indoors despite the sunshine...

The insects are covered in small hairs which can break off easily in a light breeze and cause an allergic reaction, rashes and, in severe cases, asthma attacks.

But are they coming from the bins?

The caterpillars are understood to be coming from a disused railway embankment owned by Network Rail...

The Brown-tail moth caterpillars are a non-native species that don't have any predators. They have built hundreds of web-like tents on a disused railway bank and in trees in the Ashwood Road allotments...

The council said it inspected the allotments in March because of previous infestation, but there weren't any tents around at the time. He said the creatures has [sic] emerged early this year because of the warm weather.

'Could these stories be related'?


Mail headline on salt 'rather simplistic'

On 5 May, the Mail said:

The article, attributed to 'Mail Foreign Service', begins:

For years, doctors have been telling us that too much salt is bad for us. Until now.

A study claims that cutting down on salt can actually increase the risk of dying from a heart attack or a stroke...

Its findings indicate that those who eat the least sodium – about one teaspoon a day – don’t show any health advantage over those who eat the most.

Needless to say, there are plenty of Mail articles saying the opposite, including: Cut salt by a teaspoon a day to save yourself from a stroke, experts say; Cutting salt from your diet 'would prevent one fifth of heart disease deaths'; Slash salt levels to save lives, food watchdog tells industry; Reduced salt intake cuts heart disease risk; and Too much salt DOES increase risk of heart attack.

But is the Mail accurately reflecting the findings of the study it is writing about? Well, despite claiming 'those that eat the least' salt show no 'health advantage', the study didn't actually investigate salt consumption - what it measured was people's urinary salt levels ('To assess whether 24-hour urinary sodium excretion predicts blood pressure (BP) and health outcomes').

And, as NHS Behind the Headlines says:

...the single urinary sodium measure analysed is not necessarily a direct indicator of how much salt a person eats. For example, it may indicate how hydrated a person is or how well their kidneys are functioning at filtering sodium.

They add:

The limitations of this study mean that on its own it does not challenge the accepted association between salt intake, blood pressure and related disease, and certainly does not suggest that eating more salt is good for you.

That is a direct response to the Mail's headline, which it says is 'somewhat unjustified', explaining:

The Daily Mail’s headline implying that eating salt is good for you is a rather simplistic conclusion from this complex study, and cannot be interpreted in such a manner.

Thursday 5 May 2011

The 'EU flag' letters the Express did print

As mentioned on this blog, yesterday's Express claimed 'scores' of public buildings were being forced to fly the European flag next week or face being fined.

The European Commission Representation in the UK and the Head of European Parliament Information Office wrote to the Express pointing out the inaccuracies in their story:

Regarding your front page of today, only 2 buildings in the UK are expected to fly the European flag for Europe Day and the Commission would not fine countries that did not do so. The rules that make this provision were passed in 2006 by all EU countries, including the UK. No other public building has to fly the flag on 9 May though some may choose to do so. Some schools want to do something to mark the day and ask us for ideas. We send these purely on demand and they in no way constitute “instructions”.

But they were told their letter would not be published by the paper.

And the Express was true to its word. But the paper did find room for three readers' letters/emails on the issue - all echoing the paper's line. From B Lawrence, Crowle, Lincs:

Hoist the Union Flag in defiance on Europe Day

Yet another diktat arrives from Europe (“EU flag rule: We’re poles apart”, May 4). We now have the EU demanding that we fly their flag over our public buildings for a week to celebrate the EU’s Europe Day on Monday.

Schools are also being sent suggestions on how to celebrate. What can they do if we refuse to comply and then ignore any fine they may see fit to impose? Ask us to leave the EU? I doubt that very much. Not only do they say we must fly the flag of a political European federation and send an email photo as proof of having done so but they are also trying to brainwash our children. Just who do these people think they are?

We are not a federal state. We have a monarchy and our own flags which most of us are justly proud of. It is to be hoped that people make a stand next week and fly our Union Flag instead. I most certainly shall.

The time comes when we must say enough is enough. That time, Mr Cameron, is now. Get us out of the EU.

From Ann Masters:

We've nothing to celebrate about being trapped in EU

I sincerely hope David Cameron ignores the request to fly the EU flag on all Government buildings next Monday. To celebrate the EU’s Europe Day? This must be a joke. What do we have to celebrate regarding Europe? This is Great Britain and we have our own flag and long may it remain so.

We only have to take our minds to April 29 to show what a great nation we are when we saw Catherine and William married. This day showed just how patriotic the British people are. This is our country and we have to fight these Eurocrats who try to diminish what we are.

I am certain there are many people like myself who do not wish to be part of a Europe that wants to control us in every way possible. We still have time to pull out and once again be in control of our own destiny.

And from P Neighbour, Windsor, Berks:

Time to fly in the face of latest drivel from Brussels

This latest drivel from Brussels saying the EU flag must be flown from all public buildings here on May 9 is the last straw. Sadly I read that the flag must be flown at Eland House, Westminster, due to its role managing expenditure by the European Regional Development Fund.

When is someone in the government going to have the backbone and say ‘hang on’ enough is enough and ignore such rubbish in the same way as the French do when it doesn’t suit them?

So the Express knows its article wasn't true, but rather than correct it, or print the 'other side' of the argument, they decide to ignore the truth and repeat - three times - the original, inaccurate claims.

Wednesday 4 May 2011

Express continues to lie about the EU

Monday's Daily Express front page claimed:

Macer Hall's article began:

Fury erupted last night after a European Union plot to “carve up Britain” by ­setting up a cross-Channel region was exposed.

The Express implied that this 'plot' was something new (albeit, as Roy Greenslade pointed out, slightly less new than when a similar story appeared in the Mail two days before). Yet mid-way through the article, after the inevitable quotes from UKIP and the TaxPayers' Alliance, Hall admitted:

Arc Manche was formally launched six years ago to forge closer links between local councils in southern English counties with their counterparts in northern France.

In fact, the Arc Manche network has been around since 1995.

So the Express eventually stated it's about 'forging closer links between councils' rather than a 'plot' to 'merge UK with France'. But how many Express readers will read - and believe - that after the screaming headline?

The EU's Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, has written to the Express to clarify the position:

We are as surprised as your readers to hear that your newspaper believes the EU wishes to merge Britain and France. The suggestion that the “EU wants to merge UK with France”, 2nd May, is absurd, and of course, untrue.

There is no proposal to create a new cross-channel region. What exist (and have done for 10 years) are a number of cross-border programmes aimed at things like boosting jobs and looking after the environment.

A similar note was also sent to the Daily Star, who ran a similar article under the ludicrous headline 'Clowns plan to turn us French'.

Today, the Express was at it again, claiming on the front page:

'Now we must fly the EU flag on our public buildings'. Really?

It's Macer Hall again:

Scores of public buildings around the country are being ordered to fly the blue-and-gold European Union flag to mark the occasion next Monday.

Officials will be expected to ensure the flag remains hoisted for a week, with a swingeing fine from Brussels threatened for those that disobey.

The Daily Star's version claimed:

Eurocrats were last night facing a revolt over a bid to force Britain to celebrate “Europe Day” next week.

Scores of public buildings are being ordered to fly the European Union flag to mark the occasion.

Officials will be expected to ensure it remains hoisted for a week from Monday. And those that disobey could be fined.

Or not, according to a letter sent to the Express from Jonathan Scheele, Head of European Commission Representation in the UK and Michael Shackleton, Head of European Parliament Information Office in the UK:

Regarding your front page of today, only 2 buildings in the UK are expected to fly the European flag for Europe Day and the Commission would not fine countries that did not do so. The rules that make this provision were passed in 2006 by all EU countries, including the UK. No other public building has to fly the flag on 9 May though some may choose to do so. Some schools want to do something to mark the day and ask us for ideas. We send these purely on demand and they in no way constitute “instructions”.

According to them the Editor of the Express, Hugh Whittow, has refused to publish their letter, thus failing to give a right of reply to those his paper has accused. And, of course, there's no way of complaining to the PCC since Richard Desmond withdrew from the self-regulatory system.

So the Express' campaign against the EU continues.

In March, the paper ran a front page headline claiming 'Cars face ban from all cities...another plan forced on us by crazy EU'. As Minority Thought blogged at the time, it wasn't true. Now these two stories within a few days.

What will the paper falsely claim the EU has banned/forced on us next?

Did health and safety ruin a grandmother's funeral?

The latest example of 'health and safety gone mad' emerged yesterday: those 'killjoys' had ruined a grandmother's funeral, having 'scuppered' her dying wish.

The Mail said:

The article stated:

Over her lifetime she had collected a series of garden gnomes from all over the country.

So when it came to her funeral, Veronica Pratt had one special request – she wanted the colourful little characters to line the route.

The family of the 82-year-old grandmother duly obliged, placing 30 of them on a roundabout past which the cortege would drive.

But almost inevitably, the touching tribute fell foul to that scourge of modern life – the elf ’n’ safety police.

The same claims were made in the Metro:

And in the Mirror:

All these articles make it clear the gnomes were meant to line the funeral route, but were removed by 'health and safety'.

But it's not quite true. Yes, the family did place the gnomes on a roundabout near Narberth, and yes, they were removed - a few days later - by the council (under instruction from the Trunk Roads Agency). But according to the local paper, the Western Telegraph, the family acted:

the day after her funeral.

So they were never meant to be lining the route her 'cortege would drive'.

The Western Telegraph article, incidentally, is dated 22 April so it has taken these papers two weeks to publish this story - and yet they still get it wrong.

The BBC reports that a spokesman for Pembrokeshire Council has called the tabloids' interpretation a 'tall story':

Reports in several national newspapers claim the gnomes were placed on the Penblewin roundabout on the A40 before Mrs Pratt's funeral and then taken away by "elf 'n' safety police".

But the council said the story had been misreported.

It said initially their appearance was a mystery until Mrs Pratt's family contacted the Western Telegraph newspaper to say they had placed them there as a tribute the day after her funeral.

Her family told the paper that Mrs Pratt had always commented on how she enjoyed passing the roundabout - especially in spring when the flowers were in bloom - so they decided to place her gnomes there.

A council spokesman said it removed them a few days later after a request from the Welsh Assembly Government's Trunk Roads Agency on the grounds that they could distract motorists.

They were then taken to a council depot for storage.

And following an appeal for a new home they have now been given to a woman in Pembroke Dock for her garden.

Monday 2 May 2011

Newspaper websites publish fake bin Laden 'death' pic

The news of the death of Osama bin Laden sent newspaper websites into a frenzy: who could publish a pic of his dead body first?

So we had this from the Mail:

And this from the Sun:

And this from the Mirror:

And this from the Telegraph (image from Terence Eden @edent):

According to the Guardian's Jonathan Haynes, the Times also used the same picture, and Sky News broadcast it too.

But in their rush to publish, none of these organisations seems to have checked the authenticity of the picture.

Alas, it seems this image has been doing the rounds since at least 2009.

And, more importantly, it's a photoshop job (warning: link to real graphic image) - a fake.

At time of writing, each newspaper website has now removed the image.

But why rush to publish without checking it out properly first? Doesn't this event contain enough that is newsworthy already?