How media misinformation distorts accepted truth
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.
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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