Tuesday 26 June 2012

'Astonishingly ignorant'

Yesterday, an Express headline said: 'Most students are ignorant about our war heroes'.

Indeed, not just ignorant about the Second World War but 'astonishingly' so, according to Express journalist John Chapman:

British children are astonishingly ignorant of our nation’s role in the Second World War, a survey has revealed.

More than half of secondary school children did not realise the Battle of Britain was fought in the air, just one third knew the conflict began in 1939 and only one in five understood what happened on D-Day.

Thankfully, the Express is here to educate our children. So they illustrated the story with a photo showing, according to the caption, Battle of Britain Spitfires.

Unfortunately for the Express, the picture actually shows Hurricanes. 

Monday 25 June 2012

Express changes its weather forecast....again

This blog has tried to keep track of the very changeable weather forecasts that have appeared on the front of the Express over the past few months.

Now things have changed again. 

Just ten days ago, we were told 'Summer starts in September':

Nathan Rao explained:

Forecasters fear the equivalent of five months of rain could fall by the end of June. They do not anticipate any significant hot spell until well into September.

No significant hot spell until September?

Then today:

And now, Mr Rao?

A scorching blast of summer will at last roar in from the Continent this week – sending temperatures to 93F (34C).

Sun-starved Britons will sizzle in four days of “extreme heat” – at least in the South – due to a surge of hot air from Spain and France.

The mercury is expected to rocket to 81F tomorrow with highs of 93F possible in London and the South-east by Thursday.


The Met Office is currently forecasting nothing higher than 25C this week in London:

Thursday 21 June 2012

The Bomber Command 'snub'

The front page on the Sunday Express on 17 June screamed 'BBC snubs our Bomber boys':

The 'exclusive' by Marco Giannangeli and David Stephenson revealed:

The BBC was facing an angry backlash last night over its decision to snub the unveiling of the Bomber ­Command Memorial next week.

While the Queen will be honouring the 55,000 Bomber Boys who gave their lives for the country, BBC1 will be showing repeats of Cash In The Attic and Bargain Hunt.

Skip straight to the end of the article, however, and a quote from a BBC spokesman confirms that the BBC News Channel is, in fact, planning to broadcast the service live and BBC2 will broadcast a 50-minute tribute programme at 5pm (repeated at 11.20pm). Furthermore, the spokesman says:

"The Bomber Command Association are happy with our plans and have been working closely with us."

Some 'snub'.

So what's behind this story appearing on the front page? Firstly, the paper's owner - Richard Desmond:

donated £500,000 to the memorial fund to match £500,000 raised by our readers.

Secondly, Desmond owns Channel 5 and wafer-thin attacks on the BBC are not uncommon on the Sunday Express' front pages (see, for example, this and this).

So what is Desmond's Channel 5 doing to honour the Bomber Command? In what way will its coverage surpass that of the BBC?

According to the listings for 28 June on the Channel 5 website, when the midday service takes place the channel will be showing...Extreme Fishing with Robson Green.

Correction: a repeat of an episode of Extreme Fishing with Robson Green.

So Channel 5 isn't broadcasting the ceremony live, unlike the BBC. Will there be a special programme later, similar to the one the BBC is showing?

Nope. There are three different Big Brother programmes, a film about tornadoes, Monkey Life, The Baby With a New Face, Big Body Squad, two hours of soaps...but nothing on Bomber Command.

When will the Sunday Express also report on this 'snub'?

Mail on Sunday apologises to Stephanie O'Keeffe

On 1 April 2012, the Mail on Sunday ran an article about Stephanie O'Keeffe, a freelance reporter, who had done some work for BBC 5Live:

Last night Ms O’Keeffe accepted that the shifts in January had not gone as well as expected.

She said: ‘I worked for 5Live for a couple of weeks as a freelance and read the sports bulletin on two occasions. I did training shifts but I don’t think I was what they wanted.

‘Nobody complained but I think they felt I just wasn’t ready for it. These things happen when you are a freelance.’

The English Literature graduate has also worked for BBC London, Channel 4 News and Al Jazeera.

The paper claimed

Colleagues said she struggled to read from carefully prepared scripts

But also said:

She appears proud of her time at 5Live and has placed one of her bulletins online

So someone tries out for a job and it doesn't quite work out. It might have been because it was the BBC, or because O'Keeffe is - in Chris Hastings' words - 'young' and 'glamorous', but it was not quite clear why the paper thought this so newsworthy.

Hastings added:

Ms O’Keeffe – whose CV includes skills as a model, lists her chest and waist measurements as 32in and 23in and even specifies that she is willing to perform nude – lasted only two shifts at radio station 5Live....

Her online CV, which features pictures of herself, has been circulated among staff after some of them downloaded it.

On Sunday, there was an apology:

On April 1 we said, incorrectly, that the freelance reporter and presenter Stephanie O’Keeffe struggled to read her scripts when working at BBC Radio 5 Live.

We now accept that this was not the case.

Our report could also have been taken to suggest that Ms O’Keeffe obtained her BBC work by submitting a CV that contained her vital statistics and expressed a willingness to work nude.

That was not our intention and we are sorry for any misunderstanding or embarrassment these errors may have caused.

'World's worst role model' but great for attracting web traffic

On MailOnline today, a rant about Kim Kardashian:

Also on MailOnline today:


MailOnline has published 97 articles mentioning Kim Kardashian since 1 June.

Wednesday 20 June 2012

Mail fooled by photo of 'ghost' created with iPhone app (again)

The MailOnline reports on a 'ghost sighting' in Gloucestershire:

The article by Graham Smith explains:

A couple claim their house is haunted after capturing what they believe to be an apparition of a baby ghost on camera.

Shocked John Gore, 43, was taking photographs of his pet cats when he noticed the bizarre outline of a small ghostly figure.

The shape - which looks like a toddler or baby - appears to be stand next to an armchair in the living room of the house Mr Gore shares with his girlfriend Sonia Jones in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.

The couple have now given the ghost the nickname 'Johnny Junior'.

Neighbours have since told the couple that a baby died from cot death in their home a number of years ago.

Mr Gore and Miss Jones have also noticed the room’s lights turning on and off and the television changing channels on its own in a series of spooky goings-on at the house.

There isn't much scepticism in the report, which is a repackaged version of a Gloucestershire Echo article, which began:

A ghostly figure has been captured on camera in a Cheltenham house.

It has?

Well, no. Yesterday, a follow up report in the Echo revealed it was a fake:

it turns out the image taken at his home...was altered by an application for an iPhone. 

According to some ghost-watching websites (see here and here), the application used to create the picture was GhostCapture (the 'ghost' used is the figure in black on the right-hand side of this image).

If GhostCapture sounds familiar, it's because the Mail (and the Sun) were fooled by an image created using the same app over two years ago.

But will the Mail follow the Echo's lead and now admit it is a fake?

Monday 18 June 2012

'Another example of Mail Online not bothering to change a word when cutting and pasting stories'

Yesterday, Daily Mirror football writer Simon Bird tweeted:

His article published at 22:30 on 15 June stated:

Everton are trailing Croatia striker Mario Mandzukic - and could land him for a bargain £7million.

The Croatia hitman, one of the stars of Euro 2012 so far with his three goals in two games, could be paired with team mate Nikica Jelavic at Goodison Park.

Mandzukic is on the radar of other Premier League sides too, because he is available at a “fair” price from his German club, Wolfsburg.

The 26-year-old was signed by Wolfsburg's then-coach Steve McClaren - a friend of Everton boss David Moyes' No2 Steve Round - for £6million and has two years left on his contract.

Everton were also interested in him two years ago, when he played for Dinamo Zagreb, and have had Mandzukic watched during the Euros.

His partnership with Jelavic at international level is thriving and could be rekindled on Merseyside.

The article on the Mail's website - which appears under the byline of 'SportsMail Reporter' - was published at 17:46 on 16 June and is a word-for-word copy:

In April, Mail Online publisher Martin Clarke told The New Yorker that his site 'adhered to fair-use rules'.

(Hat-tip to nutts2020)

UPDATE: By 6:25pm on Monday, the Mail's article had been removed.

Sunday 17 June 2012

Mail on Sunday reporters forget they won a £400 iPad

Last week's Mail on Sunday led on an investigation into the website Yipiii:

They also devoted pages six and seven to it:

Yet on 29 May, another article on the Mail website - in the This Is Money section - had been rather positive about Yipiii. Simon Lambert's article began:

If you want to buy something why not play to win it for free first, especially if you can’t lose your stake?

That, in a nutshell, is the theory behind Yipiii, a new website, which offers an ingenious new twist on cashback and reward shopping.

Lambert gave quite a positive answer to a question posed in the headline: 'Is Yipiii a winner?'

Befitting its aim to inject some fun into internet shopping, Yipiii is bold, colourful and easy to use...

It’s true that this moneyback element does essentially make Yipiii risk-free, as any money put in you can get back out, and, in fact, thanks to free spins etc, you actually get back more than you put in...

You sense that if Yipiii could achieve critical mass it could prove to be genuinely revolutionary, as online shops will be extremely interested in signing up and offering good deals – certainly the calibre of partners so far is impressive.

The idea has legs, and so for the curious, it’s definitely worth a spin. Who knows maybe one day the concept will have spread far enough that you could fill the car up with petrol and then spin the wheel to see if you can drive away without paying a penny.

The Mail on Sunday's rather more critical article claimed - in the box at the bottom of page seven - that their reporters had spent £162 on the website and:

only won a £19.99 fish bowl. 

They also claimed:

The reporters did not use the free plays they were offered. 

Yet now, one week later, the Mail on Sunday has published a damning correction and apology:

In our front-page report last week we said Mail on Sunday reporters had spent £162 on Yipiii plays but won only a £20 toy goldfish bowl.

In fact, one reporter used ‘free plays’ acquired during the experiment and went on to win an iPad worth up to £400.

And in a different experiment another journalist spent £40 and won £35 of flowers and a £101 iPod Nano.

We apologise to Yipiii for not mentioning these.

Also, we said customers can top up their accounts as often as they like. In fact, top-ups are limited to £200 per day.

So having claimed they didn't use the free plays and only won a goldfish bowl toy, it emerges they did use the free plays and won an iPod Nano and an iPad - £556-worth of prizes, rather than £20.

The question is: why did the Mail on Sunday's reporters 'forget' to tell their readers that they won these other prizes?

Friday 15 June 2012

The Express and the weather (cont.)

True to form, the Express has published another front page headline about the weather. A month ago, they told us:

The Express now tells us:

Many of these stories have been based on forecasts from Jonathan Powell - formerly of Positive Weather Solutions but now Vantage Weather Services.

George Monbiot has more.

The Mail, 'kninkles' and déjà vu

On 6 September 2011, the Mail published an article on the 'curse of wrinkly knees'.

Dubbed 'kninkles' (yes, really), the spiteful article highlighted the celebrity women:

whose knees are rather less perfect than the rest of their physique.

How dare women go out with 'less than perfect knees'? Anyway, the article by Claire Coleman - whose knees are not shown - goes on to point out the 'kninkles' on Jennifer Aniston, Sharon Stone, Elle Macpherson, Catherine Zeta Jones, Kate Moss, Melanie Griffith, Nicole Kidman, Demi Moore and a few others. It quotes a few cosmetic surgery-types who are only too happy to explain what procedures might help with this 'curse'.

Today, the Mail has published a completely different article about:

the dreaded crinkling, pouching and sagging of the knee area which starts when women hit 40.

This article by Jenny Stocks - whose knees are not shown -  goes on to point out the 'kninkles' on Jennifer Aniston, Sharon Stone, Elle Macpherson, Catherine Zeta Jones, Kate Moss, Melanie Griffith, Nicole Kidman, Demi Moore and a few others. It quotes a few cosmetic surgery-types who are only too happy to explain what procedures might help with this 'curse'.

MailOnline was named newspaper website of the year in March.

In a New Yorker article about the Mail and MailOnline, one former Mail journalist told Lauren Collins:  

“I just got fed up with writing picture captions about celebrities’ saggy knees, and thought they were hypocritical and unfair,” she continued. “I thought, I’m going to hell if I keep writing this.”

Thursday 14 June 2012

'Frozen to death'

On 26 April, the Telegraph published the following apology:

An article on 13 February 2012 incorrectly stated that Martin Hoskins had frozen to death on an overnight fishing trip in sub-zero temperatures. In fact, he died of natural causes. We apologise for this mistaken report and for the consequent distress caused to Mr Hoskins's family. 

Seven weeks later, the Mail has published this:

An article on 14 February 2012 incorrectly stated that Martin Hoskins had frozen to death on an overnight fishing trip in sub-zero temperatures. In fact, he died of natural causes. We apologise for this mistaken report and for the consequent distress caused to Mr Hoskins's family.

And the Mirror this:

A headline on 14 February 2012 incorrectly stated that Martin Hoskins had frozen to death on an overnight fishing trip in sub-zero temperatures, although the article made it clear that no cause of death had yet been established. In fact, Mr Hoskins died of natural causes and, contrary to our report, was accompanied on the trip by a friend. We apologise to Mr Hoskins's family for any distress caused.

It is not clear why it took the Mail seven weeks longer to publish the same wording as the Telegraph.

But why did the Mirror say that someone had 'frozen to death' while also admitting 'no cause of death had yet been established'?

Tuesday 12 June 2012

Some recent corrections

This correction was published by the Mail on 11 June:

An article on Wednesday said that the communications regulator Ofcom’s budget for 2012/13 is more than £140m and that it has a staff of nearly 1,000. We have been asked to point out that the budget for this financial year is £121.4m and that it employs 780 people. Ofcom denies using savings to offset the effect of public sector cuts.

And this one was published by the Sun on 3 April:

On November 21, 2011, The Sun published an article entitled ‘Scandal of Union Chiefs' £2.6m Pay Deals'. In that article, we cited POA General Secretary Steve Gillan's annual benefits package as being £62,131. This figure was based on information in the annual report of the Certification Officer for 2010-11. We have now been informed that in fact, his total annual benefits package is £24,689.50. We are happy to make this clear and to set the record straight.

Isn't it curious how these mistakes always over-estimate figures in a way that fits the papers' editorial line?

A couple of other corrections - this one from the Sun in March:

Our story of March 13 wrongly stated that Prince Harry has been told never to socialise in public and to give up alcohol until deployment.

We have been asked to point out that Prince Harry is fully committed to his intensive pre-deployment training and he has not been told anything by his chain of command that does not apply to any other pilot.

And this one from the Sun on 1 May:

On August 16, 2011 we published a report about Precious Douaihy and her relationship with Mark Duggan, who was killed by police in August 2011. We accept that the publication of this article, based upon intrusive information about Ms Douaihy, was inappropriate and that the photograph, which was taken in unsuitable circumstances, should not have been published. We regret the publication and apologise to Ms Douaihy for any distress caused by our approaches and the story.

Saturday 9 June 2012

The coldest May for 100 years?

On 19 April, the Express' front page splash was yet another weather prediction:

The article by Nathan Rao explained:

Britain is facing the coldest May for a century with winter poised to return, bringing snow and bitter winds.

Parts of the UK are braced for the thermometer to plunge as the cool spring turns even chillier. Worst hit will be the East – although summer will be on hold across the entire country.

The story was based on a forecast from WeatherAction's Piers Corbyn:

He said: "We are making this headline public because of its importance...we last got a very cold May in 1996, but we could have to go back to 1891 to see similar. It is certainly going to be a very cold month in the East, although the West will be milder during the day."

A Met Office analysis of the weather from 1-28 May, published on the 30th, actually revealed:

temperature, rainfall and even sunshine are very close to normal....Mean temperature for 1 to 28 May is 10.1 °C, just 0.1 °C above the long-term average. Sunshine is at 104% of the average with 192 hours, so a little above what we would expect, and rainfall is just below at 90% of the average, or 59.8mm.

There was:

a run of dry and fine weather, with some remarkably high temperatures. This included a new maximum May temperature for Scotland...

In all, it has been the longest warm spell in May since 1992.

'We don’t report pregnancies unless confirmed by the subject' (part 3)

This blog has twice noted the difference between what MailOnline's Martin Clarke told the Leveson Inquiry about reporting on pregnancy, and what his website actually does.

Lord Leveson was told by Clarke:

we don’t report pregnancies unless confirmed by the subject


we're not allowed to say somebody's pregnant unless they've confirmed it.

Recent articles about Drew Barrymore, Kate Middleton and Megan Fox suggested that wasn't entirely accurate.

And on 7 June, Charlotte Stamper spotted two more MailOnline articles which contradicted Clarke.

There was another article about Fox:

It includes the line:

The 26-year-old actress - who is understood to be pregnant with her first child - has so far refused to confirm or deny reports she is expecting.

And MailOnline also published an article about Gisele Bundchen:

This one begins by admitting:

She has so far failed to respond to rumours that she is pregnant.

So why did Clarke tell Leveson:'we don’t report pregnancies unless confirmed by the subject'?

Changeable weather conditions at the Express

Daily Express, 19 May 2012:

Britain's miserable spring will end in a glorious summer, forecasters said last night.

Sun lovers can start looking forward to temperatures in the 80s by the end of June.

Daily Express, 22 May 2012: 100F SUMMER ON WAY

Daily Express, 22 May 2012:


Britain is on course for the hottest summer for almost a decade, forecasters said last night.

Daily Express, 9 June 2012:

Britain faces another fortnight of torrential rain which could trigger the worst floods for almost a decade, forecasters warned last night.

A “devastating deluge” threatens to bring two months’ worth of rain before the end of what will be a washout June.

Daily Express editorial, 9 June 2012:

The weather is spectacularly terrible.

It looks as though 2012 might well turn out to be a year without a summer.

Saturday 2 June 2012

Dating with Desmond

Today, the homepage of the Daily Star leads with three stories about the Jubilee. The next 'story' is this:

That's the fourth most important story of the day?

The headline and intro reeks of churnalism, but it's only when you read the article - which carries no byline - that you see how shameless it is:

Finding time to make new friends can be hard if you’re already juggling a million things on a daily basis.

And that’s something many of us with hectic lifestyles can identify with. Around five million Brits admit to being too busy to widen their social circle – but what’s the solution?

You need a fast, easy and affordable way to meet like-minded people to have fun with, be that grabbing a drink, chatting over a pub lunch or heading out to the cinema.

Well there’s never been a simpler or safer way to find what you want – and it’s quick, easy and free to join.

Whether you’re just looking for friendship, to date casually, or even a lasting relationship, [name removed], Britain’s newest dating website, promises to make it easier than ever before to meet people you click with in a safe, secure and trusted environment.

Forget anything you may have heard in the past about online dating. There’s a very good reason why more people than ever before are logging on.

Clearly, this is a sales pitch, not a news story. It goes on to name the website in question seven times, and links to the site on five of those occasions. 

An almost identical article about this dating site appears on the Express' website too.

Although churnalism among newspapers isn't exactly uncommon, this is particularly blatant. And when you click through to the dating website, it suddenly becomes clear what's going on here - at the bottom of the homepage it says:

Operated for Northern & Shell by The Dating Lab.

Richard Desmond's Northern and Shell also owns the Star and the Express.

Friday 1 June 2012

Two drinks a day...or three a week

Daily Mail, 7 September 2011:

Daily Mail, 31 May 2012: