Monday 31 October 2011
While media watching, one thing you notice is a repeated confusion between the European Union (EU) and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) (run by the Council of Europe, CoE).
This may be completely inadvertent, but the Sun, Daily Mail and Express do make this mistake on a regular basis, amongst other "errors".
I thought I would help them out.
Wikipedia has the following diagram showing how the jurisdiction of various European bodies overlaps*, as well as a few extra bits**:
As you can see there is a clear overlap between the EU and CoE/ECtHR - in fact to join the EU you must be a member of the CoE/ECtHR - but it is clear that there is a significant difference between the two, even when simply looking at the members of each.
The main difference is that one is more trade-related; one more co-operation related.
The EU was set up in 1958 by various western European countries, but not the UK (which created the European Free Trade Association in response), to help them trade with each other. In fact, the basic idea of the EU is to create an economic bloc between various countries via a single internal market.
The CoE was set up in 1949 - by the UK among others - is more of an inter-governmental co-operation organisation, kind of like a Europe-only UN, with a specific focus on civil rights by the European Convention on Human Rights, which the UK drafted, and a less obvious focus on pharmacology standards.
So while it can be seen that there are similarities between the two, there are obvious differences.
Hopefully, the tabloids will read this and take note, especially as the EU has already attempted to point this out, albeit without success.
* There are a few bodies which aren't shown on the diagram, including the Central European Free Trade Agreement (which will probably be swallowed up by the EU in the future given the EU's Candidates and Potential Candidates), and the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia which is rarely mentioned in the UK.
** The other items are the European Free Trade Association; the European Economic Area; the EU Customs Zone; and the Schengen Area; as well as showing non-EU countries countries which have agreements to mint €s, but not those which decided to use it, without reaching a formal agreement, due to historic reasons.
Monday 10 October 2011
The gang behind The-Sun-Lies, Mailwatch, Expresswatch and numerous other media watching blogs are having Their second annual Media Watch Meetup. The first one, held in August just gone was such a success they couldn't wait another twelve months so it's being held in a couple of weeks.
Do come along for a drink or two and a chat about the papers, blogging or just to say hello. Best of all it's free (apart from the beer which you'll have to pay for yourself. We're not *that* nice). There's no entrance fee and you won't need to buy anyone a beer to gain access to any of our top bloggers and you can stay as long as you want or until the pub kicks us all out. You can just turn up or or go to the Facebook event page and let us know to expect you.
So, are you coming then?
Wednesday 21 September 2011
To its credit, the Express ran its correction the day after it published the original.
Yesterday - two months later - the Sun finally published its correction:
Price of coeliac loaf is £2.82
We reported on July 19 that the NHS paid £32.27 per loaf of non-gluten bread, given on prescription to sufferers of coeliac disease. In fact, the cost per loaf is around £2.82, £32 being for an average prescription of several loaves. We are happy to make this clear.
At the time of writing, this does not appear on the Sun's website. The original article and the accompanying editorial, are both still on there, however. Neither has had the correction added.
The correction ran on page six of yesterday's paper whereas the original article appeared on page nine. But compare the prominence of the original:
with the size of the correction:
Yes, it's the smallest headline and shortest article on that page.
Given that the story was proved to be wrong within a day of its publication, it's not clear why it took the Sun two months to correct it.
It's also unclear when the Mirror, Mail and Telegraph will correct their versions - all of which remain live.
Friday 9 September 2011
Today's Sun editorial following Sir William Gage's report into Baha Mousa's death:
NOTHING can excuse the savagery that led to the death of an innocent Iraqi prisoner at the hands of British squaddies.
Whatever happened to common sense? And perhaps the Sun can also elaborate on whom outside the military contributed to the "conspiracy of silence" following the "savage" treatment meted out to Baha Mousa. After all, a handful of bad apples must not be allowed to tarnish the whole of the British media.
Friday 5 August 2011
Members of the public are invited to attend, provided they are not operating under the constraints of an imaginary legal device.
Those attending may be exposed to furtive whispers about media standards as a spectacle, media-watching as a sport, and other aspects of the vast left wing conspiracy to impose accuracy and accountability on a self-regulated system that's doing just fine without our incessant meddling.
[*There may be some drinking of popular colas and lager beer, purely for the sake of appearances, should a photo opportunity arise. PS - bring a camera.]
Media Watch Meet-up
6th August 2011
The Monarch in Camden:
Bags will be searched for pie.
Thursday 9 June 2011
Campaigns provide a unique connection to the public especially when the subject matter is of a serious nature. For me, nothing can illustrate this connection better than our recent Baby P campaign.
The public outcry was deafening. And we began our fight for justice with a determination to expose the lack of accountability and responsibility for Baby P’s brutal death.
We received many many thousands of letters at The Sun about our Baby P coverage.
I’d like to read you one: ‘I have never been a huge fan of The Sun, however I thank you for the coverage of Baby P. I am so grateful for the campaign. This is not a modern day witch-hunt but a petition for justice. Please, please do not relent.'
In contrast, I’d like to quote from an article in... The Guardian.
“Full of fury and repellent hysteria, but isn’t that part of the game? This is less about the creation of public emotion and more about its manipulation."
This knee-jerk tabloid kicking reaction is just dull.
But total disregard and respect for public opinion never ceases to amaze me.
They demanded accountability.
And as a result of the campaign, some, just some, of those responsible were removed from office without compensation.
Or as this Sun reader wrote: ‘The tabloid press, which the arty-farty press like to look down on so much, has shown that it prides morality over political correctness.’
Brooks is now spending most of her time as chief executive of News International trying desperately to contain the ever growing phone-hacking scandal, having first claimed with a straight face that it was all lies and that the Guardian had likely deliberately misled the British public. Even then though her approving quoting of a reader who described her campaign as "morality over political correctness" was questionable: she knew full well that her determination to target not those genuinely responsible for Peter Connelly's death, who couldn't at the time be named, but instead the social workers at the centre of the case had led to two of them becoming suicidal. Her paper's website had allowed readers to leave comments encouraging Maria Ward to take their own life, such was the hatred the paper was well aware it was helping to whip up.
Today in the High Court the Sun had to admit that its targeting of Sylvia Henry, one of the Haringey social workers who had worked on Connelly's case, was based on completely inaccurate information. Henry was one of the five individuals the paper demanded be immediately sacked for having failed to prevent Connelly's death. The paper's campaign continued even after the BBC's Panorama had disclosed that Henry had wanted Connelly taken into care in 2006, following his admission to hospital with what she suspected was non-accidental injuries. She was overruled, and had no further role in Connelly's case after that point.
The paper however was absolutely certain of her culpability. In around 80 separate pieces over four months she was described as "grossly negligent", "shameless", to "blame for his appalling abuse and death", "lazy" and that she had "generally shown an uncaring disregard for the safety of children, even in cases where they obviously required urgent protection". It really doesn't get any more potentially libellous but the paper couldn't have cared in the slightest, not only of the damage to Henry's reputation, but also of the potential danger their vituperative articles posed to her personally: both Sharon Shoesmith and Maria Ward received death threats, with Shoesmith advised to avoid tube stations in case someone recognised her and pushed her under a train.
For once, the paper's apology is about right, both in length, its clarity and hopefully also in prominence, although it will be interesting to see where it appears in tomorrow's paper. She should never have had to pursue such a lengthy libel action though: if the Sun had bothered to investigate the case anything approaching properly in the first place they would have found, like Panorama, that she had worked conscientiously and with Connelly's best interests at heart throughout. Instead it was far too concerned with painting a picture of Haringey as a whole as out of touch and unaccountable. As the paper's leader had it at the time, "a price must be paid for his little life". That price could well have been paid in blood. Morality never even began to enter into it.
Thursday 12 May 2011
HAS there ever been a sleazier sporting organisation than FIFA?
If there has, then the Sun couldn't have possibly been as conflicted about them as it has FIFA. This happening upon the iniquities of world football's laughably corrupt governing body suddenly came to the paper the day after England's bid for 2018 World Cup was rejected, the rattle being thrown out of the pram in a fit of petulance not even the stroppiest of teenagers would sink to. FIFA BUNGS RUSSIA THE WORLD CUP it screamed, deciding that it had to have been backhanders and not our dire campaign which resulted in the pitiful 2 votes we picked up.
It was oh so different only a couple of days earlier. First the paper attacked the BBC for daring to broadcast a Panorama special on FIFA's easily bribed insiders, misrepresenting the documentary as not containing any new allegations of wrongdoing when the opposite was the case, the editorial being doubly hypocritical for referring to an investigation by its sister paper, the Sunday Times, which went over highly similar ground as a "legitimate inquiry". The following day it led with a truly pathetic "open letter", all but begging FIFA to ignore the BBC's traitorous outbursts and instead back England's bid. "Your brilliant tournament" it grovelled, tongue wedged firmly up Sepp Blatter's backside, Britain's supposedly most trenchant anti-establishment, irreverent and outspoken scandal sheet reduced to genuflecting before the sleaziest sporting organisation ever to have existed.
As is traditional, the editorial finishes with a flourish:
Who needs FIFA anyway?
Our Premier League is the world's greatest football competition.
So long as FIFA is in charge, the World Cup will not be worth winning.
The Sun will doubtless then put no pressure whatsoever on the England team come 2014, nor will it hype up our chances for months beforehand. Who knows, now that the daily paper of record has said it's not worth winning, we might just triumph.
HAS there ever been a sleazier sporting organisation than FIFA?
If the World Cup can only be hosted through bribery and corruption, England are well out of it.
Ex-FA chairman Lord Triesman reveals the favours he says FIFA executive members demanded for backing England's 2018 bid.
One wanted a knighthood. Another, vice president Jack Warner, allegedly sought £2.5million for a schools project - with the cash channelled through his own pockets.
A third asked for lucrative TV rights, while a fourth demanded: What have you got for me?
MPs investigating why England's bid failed also have evidence another two chiefs took bungs for backing Qatar's successful 2022 bid.
Two more FIFA bosses have already been banned, meaning a third of FIFA's top team is implicated. Yet FIFA president Sepp Blatter sees no need to quit.
As sport secretary Jeremy Hunt says, these allegations if proved should prompt a criminal investigation.
Who needs FIFA anyway?
Our Premier League is the world's greatest football competition.
So long as FIFA is in charge, the World Cup will not be worth winning.
Thursday 5 May 2011
As the Sun's "chief investigative reporter" Simon Hughes explains:
FIRST, we obtained an email address for Awlaki's Yemen-based "al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula" network hidden in material on an extremist website.
THEN our investigator, posing as a UK-based fanatic named "Q. Khan," sent an email addressed personally to Sheikh Anwar al-Awlaki. FINALLY, we received a reply from the terror chief - convinced he was in contact with the leader of a British cell eager to obey his commands.
I too have managed to obtain the email address the Sun used, cunningly hidden as it was on the penultimate page of the latest edition of Inspire magazine, a periodical published by the propaganda wing of AQAP, al-Malahem media. While the magazine does indeed print two articles by Awlaki, along with translations of communiques from other al-Qaida high-ups, the magazine itself claims to be edited by someone called Yahya Ibrahim; others have said the magazine's actual editor is Samir Khan, a former blogger who moved to Yemen a few years back, and who also contributes a comment piece.
Is it then even slightly realistic to imagine that by emailing an address in a jihadi publication you're likely to be straight in touch with someone as senior as al-Awlaki? Hardly. While Awlaki previously managed to maintain a blog, this was shut down shortly after the Fort Hood shootings. More recently, a judge in Yemen has called for him to be captured dead or alive, and Barack Obama has also authorised his targeted killing. As was shown with the death of bin Laden at the weekend, when you're in such a position, having direct contact to the internet or even a phone line is potential suicide. jihadica.com has also been sceptical about the magazine's actual links to AQAP, even though it claims to be produced by their media arm.
It's possible that those the Sun did contact may have asked al-Awlaki as to his response to their "sting", but if they did then they hardly make this clear: they simply signed their message as "your brothers at al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula". Their advice also was hardly specific, apart from how they should conduct their operation, and as they say, they shouldn't really contact them again as it might well result in their plot coming to the attention of the authorities. This isn't to play down the fact that the Sun has at least got in contact with someone connected with the Inspire magazine and that they've suggested what their next step could be in launching an attack: that's still a serious thing. That though isn't a good enough story, or worth clearing the front page for; it had to be al-Awlaki himself, even when it's instantly apparent they almost certainly weren't talking to him.
And just in case you have your doubts, who should pop up at the end of the article than a former acquittance of ours:
Tory MP Patrick Mercer said of our probe: "I have no doubt the Home Office will want to investigate how simple it is to get in touch with Awlaki and his people.
"He is a leading contender to fill the power vacuum left by Osama Bin Laden."
Yes, that would be the same Patrick Mercer who previously contributed to such investigative triumphs in the Sun as the "TERROR TARGET SUGAR" masterpiece, and also told the paper that the Taliban were making "HIV bombs". The ISAF response when asked about these deadly devices was "no reports, no intel, nothing". Sums up the Sun and Mercer's critical faculties fairly well.
Monday 28 February 2011
A misleading conflation of Disability Living Allowance, which is not an out-of-work benefit, with Incapacity Benefit/Employment Support Allowance: less than half of young DLA claimants receive IB or ESA.
And goes on to present the actual data so you can judge for yourself whether the rise in the numbers claiming since 1997 has been justified or not on the basis of the conditions those receiving the benefit have. It concludes with:
There is a line between selective presentation of data which makes the case for a particular policy, which is legitimate, and suppressing details in order to encourage gross misinterpretation of the evidence, which isn’t. Today’s Sun story is on the wrong side of that line.
The Sun also commented on the story in its leader, presented below in full as the paper's editorials are not archived:
DID Britain's young people get sicker under Labour?
Labour encouraged people to claim a handout for ailments as slight as an allergy. The bill is now an incredible £12billion a year - equal to Britain's entire transport budget.
No wonder the Coalition wants urgent health assessments. This has to end.
Sunday 27 February 2011
"I've asked my source at News International [with regard to the 'News in Briefs' editorials on Page 3 in The Sun]... and my source says the deputy editor who's in charge of Page 3 decides the topic and then one of the subs writes it. The girls have nothing whatsoever to do with it, because apart from the one with a degree*, they're as daft they look." - Olly Mann (Source: Answer Me This podcast, Ep 168, February 24, 2011 - relevant audio starting 00:21:25)
The editorial staff at The Sun have gone through long periods of pretending that editorials on Page 3 are a harmless joke, but they cannot do this without dismissing their own politics as a joke.
If there must be editorial content on Page 3, then it should be clearly labelled as opinion (not news) and it should always be the heartfelt, unprompted opinion of the model in question.
Anything less is a lie to readers that exploits these women in the worst possible way.
If Page 3 is their platform, where is their voice?
(*Psst! 'The one with a degree' is Sam Cooke, and her editorials raise similar questions. A 'models are dumb' argument on Page 3 is a needless detour ending in a shallow cul-de-sac.)
Wednesday 23 February 2011
The Sun is full of sympathy:
Frantic Coleen called the venue from their home in Prestbury, Cheshire, but the camera could not be found. Someone tried to sell the photos to media outlets, who turned them down.
A Rooneys spokesman said: "Wayne and Coleen take their son's privacy very seriously."
The paper even takes care to pixelate the face of the small child in a photo used to illustrate the story.
What do you mean, is there a whiff of hypocrisy here? Why, no, for The Sun has never run photos of the child unpixelated. Why, even if you thought they might have done, someone has quietly removed all the pages from the archive where, for example, they might have published a curiously-obtained photo of Kai visiting Father Christmas. Sure, the URL - http://cma.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/3265032/Wayne-and-Coleen-Rooneys-son-Kai-visits-Santas-Grotto.html - still exists, but there's nothing on the page.
Nobody can point a finger.
...unless you do a search for 'kai' that is.
(If/when the items are removed from the Suns' search index, Simon has a screeshot at his post.)
Wednesday 9 February 2011
Sorry, but no. Here's what appeared on Monday.
If we take The Sun at their word when they say that Page 3 is about empowerment, then unless we are to accept that this tabloid's long-standing hostility against the Human Rights Act has been a harmless joke, we must conclude that this is the topless model's own opinion, and she has chosen to use her appearance on Page 3 to express it sincerely. So let's have her appear on Newsnight to defend it.
I bet she can't. I bet, at best, she'll walk in briefed by editors but unable to think on her feet, because these aren't her thoughts.
If the women on Page 3 are to appear beside an editorial that's written in their name, then it should be written by them and based on their own opinion. Anything less is crass exploitation, even if they don't show their tits in the process.
Thursday 20 January 2011
CONGRATULATIONS to Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs. They hope to recover up to £3billion from tax dodging accounts over the next five years. And that's JUST from tiny Liechtenstein.
Just imagine how much they would net if they managed to claw back ALL the money stashed in illegal accounts around the world.
It would be enough to pay off a big part of the debt that is making life tough for almost everyone.
Yesterday's jobless figures, showing the total soaring 49,000 to 2.5million were causing "huge concern".
So with bankers sticking two fingers up to the rest of us again over massive bonuses, it's hardly surprising that - for once - we are all cheering the taxman.
Yes, just imagine! The leader does rather hedge its bets: it talks of both tax dodging accounts and illegal accounts. While outright tax evasion is illegal, tax avoidance itself is not. Tax avoidance is something News Corporation, the Sun's parent company has in the past been incredibly proficient at: from around 1988 to 1999 Rupert Murdoch's main British holding company paid no net corporation tax, saving a total sum of around £350 million. Were Murdoch to be generous and magnanimous enough in this country's hour of need to turn over a similar amount, it would at the least ensure that some of the harshest cuts being made, such as the withdrawal of the education maintenance allowance, could be either curtailed or dropped entirely. After all, we are - for once - cheering the taxman!
Friday 7 January 2011
It therefore doesn't really strike me as especially beyond the pale, insensitive or going too far for EastEnders to have a character's baby die of cot death and in a moment of grief stricken madness for her to swap it with a friend's perfectly healthy child. If anything, it seems in remarkably good taste compared to Emmerdale's infamous plane crash storyline, coming as it did close to the fifth anniversary of the Lockerbie bombing, and certainly no less plausible than Coronation Street marking its 50th anniversary with the the celebratory plot of a gas explosion causing a tram crash. This is to say nothing of Neighbours having characters apparently return from the grave, or Crossroads finish its short-lived revival with the revelation that the entire series had been the dream of a supermarket checkout assistant. It's true that EastEnders has unlike the other soaps somewhat tried in the past to deliver hard-hitting plotlines while giving over time to the social issues behind them, and tried to at least keep the notion of realism involved, even if not narrative realism as Claude argues, and this latest development goes somewhat against that, yet it still doesn't seem any more outlandish or offensive than the burying alive of Max Branning, which Ofcom decided was inappropriately shown before the watershed.
Where it starts to get even more ridiculous is when newspapers use editorial space* to attack broadcasters as a whole for even considering using such "warped sensationalism" as "entertainment". Already in the past year we've seen the Sun condemn the BBC for the perceived anti-Conservative bias of Basil Brush; now the paper has taken up the complaints of Anne Diamond and the apparently permanently indignant whingers at Mumsnet by calling the EastEnders storyline an "appalling misjudgement" when it could have tackled the subject "responsibly". Whether the paper was always going to strike out at the corporation over the subject regardless of being leaked the news that the actor portraying the character who lost her baby is leaving the show is impossible to know, but it hardly helps the paper's credibility that despite claiming she was leaving as a direct result of the storyline, her agent has since made clear that in fact the decision had been made months ago. Not such a "huge embarrassment" to the corporation then as the paper's editorial had so confidently stated.
The Sun taking almost any opportunity to criticise the BBC is hardly a new development. It does though really start to enter into the realms of abject hypocrisy when only last week the paper had to apologise for claiming that there was a specific al-Qaida threat against the filming of Coronation Street's live episode, despite Greater Manchester police making clear at the time that they were only involved in policing the perimeter of the set at the request of Granada, with the officers involved being paid by the production company for the time spent away from their normal duties. If anything smacks of warped sensationalism, such a ridiculous and potentially damaging story does; it hardly comes across as responsible either. While the paper had no problems finding the space to feature criticism of the BBC, it strangely didn't mention the controversy featured in other papers concerning Frankie Boyle's Tramadol Nights on Channel 4, something which doubtless has absolutely nothing to do with the man himself penning a column for none other than Sun rather than the paper deciding that it was a non-story.
Still, now that the storylines of fictional dramas are considered to be worthy of comment in the leader column of the paper's biggest selling newspaper, we can no doubt rely on the fact that the Sun will be giving the plots of the programmes on the new Sky Atlantic a similarly critical once over. It would certainly make a change to the company being plugged endlessly in every other section.
*As the Sun's editorials are not properly archived on the paper's website, the leader column in full can be read below:
COT death is a nightmare that haunts every parent of a new baby.
So who at the BBC imagined sensationalising such a heartbreaking theme would make good "entertainment"?
We are used to EastEnders being grim. It was no surprise that a particularly depressing episode was lined up for New Year's Eve.
But this time, the level of outrage proves the show went too far.
Actress Samantha Womack did her best to play tragic mum Ronnie Branning with sensitivity as she switched her dead baby for the infant son of Kat and Alfie Moon.
But, as The Sun reveals, Samantha was so distressed by the storyline she handed in her notice after seeing the script and will leave in May.
The actress made it clear she thought the plot was a mistake and would cause a backlash. But bosses ignored her.
Her resignation is a huge embarrassment to the BBC.
As broadcaster Anne Diamond, who lost her baby son to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, said, not even cot death was dramatic enough for EastEnders. It had to go one better with the ludicrous baby swap.
Campaigners like Anne have helped reduce the cot death toll from 2,000 a year to 300.
EastEnders could have helped that campaign by tackling the subject responsibly.
Reducing it to warped sensationalism was an appalling misjudgment.