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10:12am on Monday, 5th May, 2014:

Bank Holiday News


From today's Daily Mirror:

I've long suspected that newspapers put on a skeleton staff over bank holidays, so it comes as no surprise that the sub-editor didn't spot the mis-spelling of "road". There are other things I'm not so sure about, though.

For example, on page 2 we have a headline reading: "Farage: I'm not a racist, but Romania is full of criminals". I'm no fan of Nigel Farage, but he didn't actually say that. What he said was: "We've opened the doors to countries that haven't recovered from Communism and I'm afraid it's become a gateway for organised crime". That doesn't amount to saying that Romania is full of criminals. Whoever wrote that piece was putting words in Farage's mouth. There's no need to put words in his mouth to indict him: just use his own words, they do the job.

UKIP are taking votes from Labour. The Daily Mirror supports Labour. therefore, the Daily Mirror wants to paint UKIP's leader in a bad light. OK, nothing wrong with that, it's how newspapers work. Nevertheless, treating your readership as if they weren't capable of making up their own minds isn't a good sign.

Another article begins: "Inspirational teenager Stephen Sutton, who has raised millions for charity, was attacked by vile internet trolls over his incurable cancer.". The story here is that a teenager who is dying of inoperable bowel cancer managed to rally enough to go home from the hospital where he'd been expecting to die. I guess that like most people given the choice, he'd rather die at home than in hospital. There was a lot of publicity about him last week, when his fund-raising reached £1m; this brought in even more donations for his charity, swelling it to over £3m. The Daily Mirror quotes three "vile internet trolls" in the article, the gist of all three being the same: "Feel like it's a con. One minute he says he's dying, the next he's OK".

Now that's not a nice thing to say, but it's also not what a vile Internet troll would be saying. A vile Internet troll would be telling him to hurry up and die as the world will be a better place without him. That's what vile Internet trolls say. Insensitive people who heard of the story last week but weren't really paying attention would query why he was released from hospital when they'd been told he was going to die there. That doesn't make them vile, it just makes them ignorant.

The Daily Mirror supports Stephen Sutton's campaign, and probably not just from a human interest perspective either — they have a long history of supporting ill children and young adults, and play a big part in the yearly Pride of Britain awards. Having almost a full page devoted to this cause is something I'd expect of them, as it could help raise even more money. However, labelling a handful of ill-informed and ill-mannered people as worse than they are detracts from this. Readers are smart enough to be able to make up their own minds from quotes, you don't have to over-sensationalise it. What would the reporter call someone who did tweet something genuinely vile?

Ah, Bank holiday newspapers.

Hmm, actually it would be quite easy to spin this blog post to make me look like a racist troll, so I hope I haven't offended anyone...

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Copyright © 2014 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).