Monday, 23 February 2009

Wilby on the Alfie Patten saga.

There's an outstanding piece in the Graun today by Peter Wilby on the Sun's coverage of the Aflie Patten saga. Not only does he disclose that the reports came to an abrupt end last Wednesday after the High Court stepped in, something that doesn't seem to have been reported elsewhere unless I missed it, but he completely nails the Sun on one point especially, one which I missed in my own post on the affair (which I didn't really think was appropriate for here, as it didn't directly concern hypocrisy or lies):

In truth, the story was about the media - not schools, the NHS or welfare. Several columnists nostalgically recalled the days when a teenage pregnancy was hushed up. They didn't mention how the media-created stardom of Alfie and Chantelle suggests premature parenthood has become a route to instant riches and fame. Once, when a girl got pregnant, every teenage boy in the neighbourhood would deny he ever laid a finger on her. Last week, they fell over themselves to claim fatherhood of Chantelle's baby - two candidates were named - presumably in the belief they might get a small slice of the rewards on offer.

If Alfie is indeed the father, he and Chantelle and their child might recover from their premature parenthood to lead successful and fulfilling lives. The media, however, have greatly reduced their chances of doing so. I fear this affair brings statutory press regulation a step closer. The Sun's editor, Rebekah Wade, claims to care deeply about children and has campaigned tirelessly for the names and addresses of convicted abusers to be available to parents. I suggest she looks into Alfie's eyes in that picture on her own front page and asks herself what she sees there.

Perhaps she will join another campaign, to make the addresses of Sun reporters also available to parents. You never know: there might be one near you and your children.

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