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Misleading Muslim Mail headlines, with Daily Mail Reporter

July 13, 2011

Generic Daily Mail Reporter has struck again, this time with a headline that reads:

In case you were in any doubt, the first line of that article goes like this:

A breast-feeding mother has been ordered out of council offices after staff said it would ’cause an uproar’ among Muslim visitors, it has been claimed.

That seems very clear.  Let’s have a look through the article and see if we can find the bit where Muslims have either complained, or are credited with being likely to complain.

‘She said “Oh no, we don’t allow that in here. We’ve had that many complaints that we don’t allow it.”

No, not there.

According to Ms Mitchell a manager then said ‘You absolutely can’t do that here’

Not there either.  Hmm, I’m finding it difficult to pin down the offended Muslims here.  Let’s see what one of the local councillors had to say.

Labour Councillor Shoab Akhtar said Oldham Council supports the right of mothers to breastfeed their children and actively supports it due to the long-term health benefits it provides.

But he added: ‘Unfortunately there are no breast-feeding facilities available at Access Oldham based at the Civic Centre nor are there any public toilets or baby changing facilities.

‘There is no requirement to provide such facilities at Access Oldham and we are committed to make the best use of the limited space that is available to provide facilities and meeting rooms where we can deal with issues that affect local residents quickly and effectively.

‘Not every building is suitable for breast-feeding and that is the case with the very busy, open-plan layout of Access Oldham.’

Ok, so still no mention of these mythical offended Muslims.  The only hint I can get of this claim is in some of the things the lady who complained said, but even she didn’t specifically say anything about Muslims.  Ms Mitchell said;

‘If someone from another culture started praying in the waiting room, I wouldn’t say, “Excuse me, you’re offending me” I would respect it because it’s their culture.

And;

‘It’s political correctness gone mad when they’re worried about offending people of other cultures over something so natural.’

Whatever the arguments about this lady being able to breastfeed in the Civic Centre, why is the headline screaming about offended Muslims?  The only mention of Muslims has come from generic Daily Mail Reporter, nobody else.  The original story, written by Helen Korn of the Oldham Chronicle, also makes no mention of Muslims, nor is Ms Mitchell credited with any quotes about political correctness gone mad, or people praying in waiting rooms.  You can see it here: Breast is best, but not in here!

I’m wondering if generic Daily Mail Reporter might be guilty of a little embellishment to make this story more attractive to groups such as the EDL and BNP, but surely that wouldn’t be wise, what with the spotlight shining firmly on the nation’s press right now.  Giving the anonymous reporter the benefit of the doubt, perhaps Ms Mitchell was contacted for a quote after the local news had been trawled for promising leads, resulting in some glaring inconsistencies between the original story and the one published by the Mail.  Whatever the circumstances, the headline on the Mail article is dishonest and misleading, with nothing to back it up at all.  I know this is what we’ve come to expect from the Mail, but I’d hoped that the focus on press practices, and the mistrust with which readers regard papers now, may lead to more honest headlines at the very least.  Sadly not, it seems.

*I would like to make it clear that I support the right of women to breastfeed their children in public places.*

***UPDATE***

It has been brought to my attention that the Metro also ran this story with the headline, Breastfeeding mother ‘told to leave centre to prevent offending Muslims’.  The sub-heading for this one is, “A mother who wanted to breastfeed her baby in a civic centre claims she was ordered to leave because doing so might offend Muslims.”

This time, Ms Mitchell is quoted as saying;

‘A member of the complaints department said, “You’ve caused an uproar in there.’ She must have been talking about the Asian people who were in a room.

The bold is my emphasis.  Notice there is still no mention of Muslims, just an assumption made by the complainant with no solid evidence to support it.  The Metro have been as dishonest and misleading as the Daily Mail.

With thanks to Adam Clarke, Clare Hayward and Brett Smithers for the Metro tip.

Paul Dacre (Mail/PCC) bullies blogger – Bloggers respond

June 25, 2011

Paul Dacre demonstrated the strength of his own hypocrisy this week, when he ordered his legal team to threaten Kevin Arscott, of the excellent Angry Mob blog, and Kevin’s webhost with legal action over a two-year-old post that had an opinion Dacre didn’t like in it.  There have been a number of excellent ripostes from a number of bloggers, which I shall link below:

Firstly, Kevin’s own response:  Paul Dacre, Abuse and Defamation

***UPDATE*** Abuse and defamation, part 2

***UPDATE*** Corporal Jones

Next, in no particular order;

Ministry of TruthDaily Mail threatens media blogger with libel action over 2 year old article

Zelo Street:   Paul Dacre Must … Stop Being A Bully

Grim Reaper BlogPaul Dacre: aww, look at the delicate widdle flower! and An open letter to Paul Dacre

Minority ThoughtThe thin-skinned editor of the Daily Mail

Septic IslePaul Dacre must die!

Sceptical BanterPaul Dacre is a Bully (In my opinion)

Neither Angry or Scared: Moral Support

Five Chinese CrackersTabloid bullshit of the month award – June 2011: the Paul Dacre edition

(via Dick Mandrake) Roy GreensladeDaily Mail threatens ‘abusive’ blogger with libel action

In short, it seems Dacre has failed at damage limitation, instead revealing himself as, in my opinion, a rather hypocritical bully.  Instead of ordering a take down, it would probably have been a better idea to avail himself of the right to reply that is the comments section of Kevin’s blog, as Mail columnist Peter Hitchens did.  It would almost certainly have led to far fewer people seeing the cached copy of the post he found so offensive.

***This post was prompted by uksceptic‘s suggestion for bloggers to link to the Abuse and Defamation post in order to help it rise up the Google page rankings.***

Mail provides material for EDL (again)

June 19, 2011

The Mail seems to have a love/hate relationship with the EDL.  For example, use the search function on the Mail website and it throws up results like this:

Then it will publish a story such as Banners advertising Armed Forces Day removed after complaints they ‘glorify the war in Afghanistan’, containing the claim from David Mills, chairman of Andover’s Royal British Legion, that;

‘It is a fix. Our boys deserve better than this – they are our heroes. I am outraged with Test Valley Borough Council.

‘The council removed five banners after five people complained they glorified the war in Afghanistan. Other signs have not been removed.’

Predictably, a link to this story has been posted on the EDL’s fanpage:

The problem is, further on in the Mail story, Test Valley Councillor Ian Carr is quoted as saying;

‘They are dangerous on roundabouts because they distract drivers and that is why we removed them,’ he said.

‘Their display was unlawful because they contravened the advertising regulations.

‘We apply the law consistently and have to be seen to be doing so.’

So, which is it, Daily Mail?  Were the banners removed due to complaints that they glorify war, or was it because they were unlawful?  I’ll be contacting both Test Valley Borough Council and the Andover British Legion to see what they say, and will publish any reply I get in full.

*Posted with thanks to the Exposing racism and intolerance member who sent me this*

***UPDATE*** No reply so far from either party named in this story.

Mail compensation claims II – sour grapes

April 16, 2011

Here’s a story from the Mail that could well be receiving the Littlejohn com-pen-say-shun treatment soon:

Massive payouts!  For slipping on grapes, and having rulers waved at them!  Those teachers’ll do anything for easy money, won’t they?  I mean, they already get really long holidays, finish work at 3:30 every day, and get paid LOADS of money for their cushy job (***DISCLAIMER*** Paraphrasing one of the commenters, who said, “Teachers are all on the the ‘money for nothing’ bandwagon that’s why they are teachers, wouldn’t survive in the private sector, all them holidays finishing at 3:30 still complaining, more pay? For what marking an essay, wake up!” [sic]).  Damn that ‘money for nothing’ bandwagon.  I’ll bet those children could teach themselves.  Why do they need degree-qualified teachers anyway?  All that subject knowledge, lesson planning, taking marking home at evenings and weekends, after school activity organising, paperwork completing, data tracking, pastoral care giving, etc, etc – it’s just money for nothing.

Moving away from the sarcasm and onto the rhetorical question, does the headline stand up to scrutiny?  Let’s start with the, “£200k for slipping on a grape!”  The Mail says;

A teacher won £200,000 in compensation last year after slipping on a grape which was left on a stairwell.

He was awarded the six-figure sum after aggravated an existing hernia problem as he fell. He was eventually unable to work because of chronic pain.

£200,000 for being unable to work following an accident, then, rather than for actually slipping on a grape.

How about the teacher given £459k for being, “confronted by a pupil wielding a RULER”?

In the biggest claim, a teacher confronted by a pupil wielding a one metre ruler was awarded £459,000.

The youngster spun round and pushed the teacher on to a filing cabinet, which had handles sticking out, as she tried to restrain him after he had been threatening classmates.

The worker severely injured her back and, despite an operation, her condition deteriorated and she became wheelchair-bound.

Her union revealed she was only able to return to work part-time following the incident in 2002 which was only settled last year.

Ah, I see.  The ruler was a metre rule, not a thirty centimetre long shatterproof plastic one as implied, and the pupil physically assaulted the teacher as she tried to protect her other students.  Waiting nine years to be awarded £459,000 for being physically attacked and ending up in a wheelchair doesn’t seem quite so ridiculous as the headline suggests.

Further examples are given, throughout the article, of teachers who have suffered other significant, serious injuries caused by accidents or assaults, and also a teacher who was unfairly dismissed following what the Mail calls, “gender reassignment steps.”  Towards the end of the article, Chris Keates, general secretary of NASUWT is quoted as saying;

Behind each of these cases is a person whose life has been changed through serious injury or unfair dismissal from their chosen career.

Compensation is important but it is cold comfort if your health is irreparably damaged or your professional career has ended.

It’s a shame her point is buried towards the end of the piece, where it’s likely to be overlooked by anyone who didn’t read the whole thing.  Still, we know the Mail isn’t fond of compensation claims or teachers ( or any public sector worker, really), so shouldn’t be too surprised when it uses the tried and trusted formula of printing a huge, misleading headline, which doesn’t stand up to the most cursory of glances at the text.  It’s a depressingly commonplace tabloid tactic, one that is allowed by the PCC because headlines are viewed as ‘editorial space.’  I doubt this is something that will change any time soon.

However, it’s always a comfort when some of the commenters see through the bullshit, so, to close this post, here’s a selection of the ones that cheered me up:

The Mail on Kate Moss and muffins

April 10, 2011

Last week, the Mail published extracts from a six year old girl’s diary, with the headline, I peeked into my six-year-old’s diary… and realised just how early girls learn to hate their bodies@NatalieDzerins pretty comprehensively covered the various distasteful aspects of that piece at the Forty Shades of Grey blogspot.  The part of that headline relevant to this post is, “girls learn to hate their bodies.”

Body hate is a topic covered in the Mail before (blogged by Tabloid Watch and Angry Mob), so when I see articles like this, it makes me swear:

Generic Daily Mail Reporter says (emphasis mine);

But even supermodels have their off days, as Kate Moss proved yesterday while on a shoot in Paris.

Kate, 37, was snapped by the refreshment stand in between filming, sporting what can only be described as a muffin top over her satin trousers.

And either Kate has let herself go in recent months or she needs to find herself a new stylist before any other fashion faux pas arise.

Kate will also be wanting to shift her extra weight before her wedding day to rocker Jamie Hince this summer.

The photo captions continue to put the boot in, with such delights as, “Trousers a bit tight, Kate? Miss Moss sports an unsightly bulge,” “Step away from the sweets,” and, “Chewing away: Kate clutches a handful of sweets and munches them down.”

Disgustingly judgemental, and certainly not rooted in reality.  Fuel for self hate among women and girls?  In my view, yes.  Similar disparaging remarks about Aintree racegoers were published by the same paper just a few days ago, but the piece was hastily changed, presumably to avoid offence.

The Mail comments section has a disclaimer, which reads, “The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline,” and the commenters haven’t wasted any time in telling the Mail what they think of the Kate Moss story, proving the disclaimer to be pretty accurate.  I’ll let them have the last word:

The Mail: Too much s*x!

April 10, 2011

Headline from the Mail today, based on the results of the Bailey Review of Commercialisation and Sexualisation of Childhood (not linked to in the article, and seemingly unavailable online):

Pictures that have been banned from being published in a (completely different medium – not TV) catalogue were helpfully included to illustrate the point:

And in the sidebar:

Celebrity culture, adult-style clothes and music videos are all guilty in parents’ eyes of encouraging children to act older than they are.

The Mail, allegedly mid-market, allegedly a ‘family paper‘, adores celebrity culture. Much of its online content is given over to exactly that.  It also has a liking for “all grown up” stories about young women, and a worryingly creepy obsession with Suri Cruise.

Without access to the Bailey Review, which is due to be reported back to the government by May 2011, it’s difficult to discuss specific points in the article.  However, as far as sexualisation’s concerned, the Mail really isn’t best placed to criticise others.

*More information on sexualisation studies, from @DrPetraSexualisation of Young People report released. How useful are the findings? Here’s your chance to find out from March 2010.

Melanie Phillips speaks…

March 15, 2011

Melanie Phillips on Stephen Fry:

Melanie Phillips is, of course, the one who brought you, among other things, cultural suicide musings, the suggestion that rape victims be named in court because ‘lots of women are malicious liars’ (paraphrased by me), and alleged that the gay agenda is taking over in school subjects like GeogrAphY, for example.

Towards the end of her latest musings, Ms Phillips writes:

Britain is now increasingly characterised by monstrous narcissism and self-indulgence, not to mention a horrifying degree of indifference, cruelty and even sadism.

The ability to empathise with others appears to have been dulled. Responsibility has been eroded. People can no longer think logically or process factual information

Is this a sign of increasing self-awareness on her part, I wonder?

What a difference a day makes

February 20, 2011

Tweeter @willshome (via @bengoldacre) brought this remarkable ‘to eat or not to eat’ conundrum to my attention today:

The headline above is from Saturday 19th February 2011.  Compare and contrast with the following headline, from Sunday 20th February 2011:

What should people do?  The 19th February article opens with;

After years of worrying that tucking into red meat could lead to a heart attack or cancer, you can relax and enjoy the Sunday roast, say researchers.

Further on, it continues;

The review says there is ‘no conclusive link’ between cardiovascular disease and red meat, which actually contains some fatty acids that may protect the heart.

At current levels of average consumption, there also is no evidence of a link to cancer, it says.

Down in paragraph 20, Professor Martin Wiseman, the medical and scientific adviser for the World Cancer Research Fund, is quoted.  He says the review in question is being promoted by the meat industry, that ” there is convincing evidence that red and processed meat increase risk of bowel cancer,” and that it is wrong to suggest “that there is “no evidence” that a moderate intake of lean red meat has any negative health effects.” He says;

‘Essentially, the public has a choice between believing our findings – which are those of an independent panel of scientists after a systematic and transparent review of the complete global evidence – or the conclusions of this review.’

The final sentence of this report says, “The review was published in the Nutritional Bulletin, the journal of the British Nutrition Foundation, a charity with funding from various sources including the food industry.” It’s possible, then, that the published review may contain some bias in favour of the food industry, although without looking into funding sources more deeply, it’s not certain.

The 20th February article’s opener is;

Britons should cut their consumption of red and processed meat to reduce the risk of bowel cancer, scientific experts are expected to recommend in a report.

Essentially, this article is a shorter version of the 19th February one, only in reverse.  In the last few paragraphs, the review published by the British Nutrition Foundation is mentioned, only this time without the caveat about funding.

It follows a review by the British Nutrition Foundation last week which suggested demolished the ‘myths and misconceptions’ about the meat, saying that most people eat healthy amounts which are not linked to greater risk of disease.

One commenter, says, “I don’t eat any flesh but DM you did said [sic] that meat posed no health risks yesterday!”

Of course, the Mail on Sunday has a different editor to it’s daily sister paper, with these being, respectively, Peter Wright and Paul Dacre. As spotted by Minority Thought last week, this can lead to differences in reporting the same issue which can seem opposed, confused or conflicted to regular readers.  In the case of science journalism, such conflicts are probably undermining sound, scientific advice, and are undoubtedly confusing to readers.

The Science Online 2011 meeting held in January provoked some debate on how best to improve science journalism (as can be seen here, here and here).  Looking at the headlines published a day apart in the Mail and Mail on Sunday, it’s certainly a debate worth having.

Useful resources for media bloggers

February 20, 2011

This post is a collection of resources which may come in handy for media bloggers.  Please do let me know about any others in the comments, and I’ll add them to the post.

UK newspaper front pages Collection of the day’s front pages.

The Istyosty proxy, for cached pages from the Mail, Express, Sun, Star and Telegraph.  Routing links through this proxy reduces the number of site hits gained by papers that you may conscientiously object to.  ***UPDATE***  The Istyosty proxy has been taken down by order of the morally bankrupt Daily Mail, so unfortunately we can no longer avoid visiting their site directly.  This will affect all links to the Mail in my blog posts, which are likely not to be working any more.  If this bothers people, and if I get round to it, I will update them.

For those people who use Chrome/Chromium browsers, including new Flock, download the Istyosty extension, which automatically routes links to the Mail, Express, Sun, Star and Telegraph through the Istyosty proxy.  ***UPDATE***  These extensions will need to be uninstalled now that the Daily Mail has ordered Istyosty to close because they don’t work without the website.  😦

Churnalism checker from the Media Standards Trust

Kitten block for Firefox, and Chrome, brought to you by Tom Royal.  Blocks the Mail and Express in favour of tea and kittens.

NewsCrud, for adding warning stickers to bad journalism, brought to you by Eric Donovan.

Printable newspaper warning labels, brought to you by Tom Scott.

Just for fun:

Daily Mail-o-matic, generating headlines so you don’t have to.

The Twat-O-Tron, generating comments suitable for any tabloid.

Joe Mays’ Tabloid Headline Generator

Tabloid Headline Generator from toothycat

Kill or cure? from @threedaymonk [Help to make sense of the Daily Mail’s ongoing effort to classify every inanimate object into those that cause cancer and those that prevent it.]

The TaxPayers’ Alliance Quote Generator from The Other TaxPayers’ Alliance.  Generating irate quotes worthy of any TPA spokesperson.  HT to @zelo_street for this one.

I’m sure there are more, but since this is a quick post before I go out, I’ll anticipate coming home to more suggestions later.  In the meantime, I hope you find these both useful and entertaining.

Mail compensation claims

February 16, 2011

Yesterday, there was this:

Today, there is this:

The contempt the Mail displays for both claimants is clear, but do the headlines give a full and balanced picture?  The ‘nipple tweak’ story opens like this:

A gay waiter who had his nipples tweaked by a customer at a Michelin-starred restaurant has been awarded £21,500 after winning his discrimination claim.

Wow, £21,500 for a nipple tweak?  Are they having a laugh?  Well, yes, they are.  The claimant, Vincent Ma, was “subjected to sustained harassment,” according to the Mail’s own reporter.  The harrasment included two male managers simulating sex acts and pretending to kiss in front of him, telling him his nipples were sexy, and, of course, the customer who tweaked his nipple and asked if he liked it.  He was in his workplace, and should have been able to feel safe there.  I feel that, had this story not been about a gay man, it may have been treated with more seriousness.  In fact, it may have been ignored altogether.

Moving on to today’s ‘frogmarching’ story.

A boss who frogmarched a thieving employee to a police station after discovering he had stolen £845 from the company has been forced to pay the crook £13,000 for ‘humiliating him’.

Simple, see?  Except, reading further on, and ignoring the nineteen preceding paragraphs, the sequence of events described becomes much more frightening.  The claimant in this case, Mark Gilbert, says that he was bundled into the back of a van, tied up, beaten, and threatened with “various tools.”  He continues;

They showed me the sign and made me say it out loud three times.

‘They stopped at the pub, so they could march me through the streets. I wished the world would swallow me up, I hoped no one would recognise me.

‘It was almost a relief when I saw the police station was in sight rather than a remote field.’

The sign itself read, “THIEF I stoLe £845 AM ON MY WAY TO PoLice Station” [sic].  All this is a bit more than humiliation, and the Mail’s attempt to twist it into a ‘compensation gone mad’ story must, surely, be to give Richard Littlejohn and his fellow columnists some material to work with later in the week.

***Update*** (ht to The Media Blog)

The Daily Express have also covered the ‘frogmarched’ story here: Thief sues victim Their take on it doesn’t include any further information about the rather violent attack on Mark Gilbert, thus marking the Express out as even less balanced than the Mail.

The Express quotes Howard Thomas, who is, apparently, leader of the Common Sense party, as saying, “if I was in the situation he was in I would have done exactly the same thing – I think a lot of people would.”  What, bundled someone into the back of a van, tied them up, beaten them and threatened them with tools before marching them through the streets with a sign around their neck?  I doubt it.  The usual response to theft is to call the police, surely.