Skip to content

How media misinformation distorts accepted truth

October 22, 2010

Media misinformation does have an effect on public perceptions, and changes the way people think about things. The proof of this can be seen in the screenshot below, taken from the English Defence League fan page.

Uploaded with
Firstly, let’s address the story that seems to have started this delightful thread: Poppy boxes ban at Boots angers Legion. The Llanwrust branch of Boots the Chemist apparently told British Legion volunteers that they couldn’t leave a poppy box in the store due to company policy. Three paragraphs into the story, it is reported that Boots apologised for ‘a huge misunderstanding’. This is expanded on near the end:

A Boots spokeswoman apologised.

She said: “There has been a huge misunderstanding. Yes, tins are allowed. The only thing the store can’t do is put up a poster because of in-store guidance.”

She added: “We are very sorry on behalf of the store and the store manager for any misunderstanding that has been caused. But our intention has always been to sell Poppies.”

She said the store manager will be contacting the local Royal British Legion ‘to reassure them’.

Not only was the story based on a misunderstanding, quickly rectified by Boots, but it also dates back to 25 October 2008. The whole poppy rumour in the screenshot is based on a two year old story, one that was written due to a store manager of a newly opened branch misunderstanding company policy.

The comments on this thread, quite apart from any racism, bigotry and xenophobia, also make mention of stories that have been thoroughly debunked by other bloggers.  These stories are taken at face value and repeated as truth, reinforcing the notion that political correctness has gone mad, and that Muslims are offended by absolutely everything.

Baa baa rainbow sheep makes an appearance (debunked here by Septicisle), as does Christmas celebrations not being allowed (debunked here by Five Chinese Crackers and here by TabloidWatch), and to finish off the trio, not being allowed to call a blackboard a, er, blackboard (link to follow when I can find it, but this myth is believed to have come about due to schools installing interactive whiteboards, which aren’t black, so aren’t called blackboards).

The comment at the end is the most telling. When it’s revealed that people have got all irked about a two year old story, the comment, ‘Who cares?’ is made. People don’t care enough to look for the truth if these stories reinforce their prejudices and beliefs. That’s why I personally feel the press should behave with more responsibility and less sensationalism, but, sadly, I think some of them have their own agenda to promote and, with an ineffectual complaints commission, it’s not going to happen any time soon.

*Thanks to Fay from Exposing for the tip

4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 23, 2010 11:20 am

    The trouble is that racists will believe what they want to believe. I was in Spain talking to a few ex-pats. They became incredibly angry as they swapped stories of 'immigrants' getting generous handouts from the state whilst 'poor whites' get nothing, then stories about benefit scroungers and cheats — a definition which seemed to include anyone claiming benefits of any kind for more than one day. So much for those 'poor whites', eh? I spent half an hour debunking all these stories, but these guys would not believe a word I said, not 'cos they'd read in in the paper, but because these press stories reinforce their prejudices and why should they change their minds due to anything as triflingly inconvenient as the truth or facts.Racists will also lie about events and stories in order to make a point – and make other racists and bigots angrier in the process. Come to Harlow, with it's majority racist population. My sister-in-law swears blind that there's this Pakistani she knows who arrived here and was immediately given a big fancy house and a big fancy car and thousands-upon-thousands of pounds of benefits a month. Even more, this Pakistani gentleman approaches any white person he sees and rubs their noses in it!It's all bollocks, of course. She'd made him up, a etherial bogeyman to further wind up her brother, who wants to 'kill pakis' and her father, a man so apparently dense that he cannot understand why the terms 'Joe Daki' and 'coon' are offensive – "they're just words, innit" – and so uses them at every given opportunity. And this is the same all over the country – too many people that somehow have come to believe that what they think, no matter how bizarre, nasty or unresearched is 'the truth' and anything that counters that is 'lies'.

  2. October 23, 2010 12:14 pm

    I notice the ex-pats in Spain you spoke to completely missed the point that they became immigrants themselves by emigrating.That's a great comment, and you're right that even the truth, or actual facts, can't convince some people that what they think isn't actually the case. Although not all of this prejudice relies on newspapers to feed it, they do play a huge part.

  3. October 23, 2010 9:52 pm

    Good point Press Not Sorry, some people certainly use the tabloid press to confirm their prejudices, sadly. I believe it gets to a point where some readers become interested in a certain political party or group that can use these distortions to great effect, and any questioning of them becomes a kind of liberal/Marxist/leftist/PC/Jewish/whichever erroneous label fits conspiracy theory. Obviously the press distances themselves from these groups, not entirely sure why though, considering the Mail's historical flirtations with the far-right.


  1. Tweets that mention How media misinformation distorts accepted truth « Press Not Sorry --

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: