This Isn’t What Newspapers Should be For

There’s a story on MailOnline today that is really bugging me. It shouldn’t bug me because it’s just another one of those bullshitty space fillers about reality TV that all newspapers use to get clicks. It doesn’t matter and it’s about nothing, except I can’t shake the feeling that it does matter and it’s actually about everything.

Don’t worry, I won’t make you read it. Here’s the headline, though…

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It bothers me for a number of reasons, but I think it stayed in my head because it actually bothers me for all reasons. Everything about it is fuckugly-wrong; and the cynicism with which it’s presented, and the contempt it displays for the readership is perfectly indicative of the Mail’s ‘between the truth and legend, print the tits’ style of journalism.

Firstly, this isn’t even a real quote. In fact, it’s not just not a real quote, it’s a second-hand not real quote given by an ‘insider’ to a newspaper owned by the man who also owns the TV station that makes the programme, a programme which features a journalist for the Daily Mail…

CBB-dailystarSo this is where we’re at now. Journalists from the worlds most popular news website aren’t even watching the TV shows they’re reporting on – they’re copying PR quotes from other newspapers, and writing whole articles based on them.

Secondly, the whole ‘too blue for TV’ thing was shattered in the fucking 1990′s. This is Channel 5 we’re talking about here, the channel who would gladly screen 24 hour single feed shots of prostitute windows in Amsterdam if they thought they could pass it off as current affairs programming. If anything was left on the cutting room floor it will be the guttural word spunking of hand-painted-by-a-four-year-old micro twat Dappy as he attempts to stab a barely blinking woman in the back with his hilariously oversized penis.

Thirdly, yeah – the language offends me. Anyone who’s read my feed or blogs knows I like a good swear and explicit description once in a while, but do we really need to know that Dappy still uses the word “semi”?

I also object to the sheer hypocrisy of a newspaper that campaigns for a less overtly sexual world yet happy reports on someone having a “tight little ass” or, if you prefer, thinks “girl-on-girl” action is an appropriate sentence for a family newspaper.

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The Daily Mail is currently running 10 stories about what happened on Celebrity Big Brother last night, filled with reports on explicit language, filthy flesh flashers, sex-talk and lesbian titlation. The tone is set just above breathless wanky excitement and just below moral judgement. ‘Look how awful (and sexy) these people are, and what awful (and sexy) things they are getting up to. Better watch tonight so I can be appalled (and aroused)…’

The really interesting thing, though – the really interesting thing – is where Liz Jones is in all of this. The answer…? Nowhere. Or, at least, nowhere near. The Mail have been unusually restrained in their promotion of her involvement, hardly featuring her at all unless they have to, and then only referring to her as a general journalist. I’d expect this is because they’re planning to announce, post TV show, that her involvement was some kind of sting article research and she will dutifully be awful about the other contestants to get more column inches. If she’s going to judge their lapsed morality, which she almost certainly will, alongside her commercially exploitable vulnerability then they can’t be having featuring her in too many nightvision horny catch-ups ahead of time.

The Daily Mail are hypocrites; pureblood, callous, cash-driven, hit-licking hypocrites. Their conviction that the blurred line between flirty-fun and all-out rape is the sight of a nipple actually hurts our society. Revel in the smut or cast out the sin – I honestly don’t care – but don’t warn of a forthcoming sex apocalypse with one hand and feverishly wank over primetime tit-peeks with the other. And especially don’t do it with second hand, PR quotes from newspaper with even lower morality than yours. At least the Daily Star is honest about being a red top version of the top shelf…

Incidentally, this story is still running on the Mail’s front page. Check out the final subheading. If these are the parameters for judging aggressive sexual behaviour, consider what’s more likely – a viewing of pornography, or living in a society in which excessive sexual imagery is presented as normal and to be commerically encouraged.

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What’s that hashtag you use to get out of defending a slightly ignorant statement once you’ve made it? #justsaying?

Wait, no, it’s #newspaperoftheyear.

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EDIT:  Updated shortly after publication after it was pointed our Dappy said “semi” and not “stiffie.” Can’t believe I just typed that sentence.

Where time becomes a loop…

Really quick one; today the Mail published an article about Sheffield Council refusing to publish a leaflet they wrote advising Roma migrants not to shit in the streets, leave their kids by open fires, ride horses through Meadowhall and so on. The article is here.

It’s eerily similar to this article published about two years ago about another binned leaflet suggesting Muslims are anti-social too. I wrote about this in great length in a blogpost called Filthy Moozlims – mainly about how the approved comments from Daily Mail readers were nothing more than open racism.

Well, like an Orbital sample, they’re at it again with the top comments being an invitation to spew out the most stereotypical, alarmist, ill-founded racist assumptions again – all welcomed and approved by the DM opinion leaders. As I’ve said before; the concern isn’t that people have these opinions, it’s that the Daily Mail think them appropriate to publish as part of a sensible and open discourse.

Sheffield Council produce leaflet to teach migrants about anti social behaviour   Mail OnlineThis is race-baiting, pure and simple – prodding the mutant readership into outrage because it fits a very profitable agenda. It’s an old move, but try substituting the word ‘Roma’ for ‘Jew’ and see how the perspective shifts.

Never Forget

neverforgetThe issue that should be raised by this story isn’t that these women chose to dress like the Twin Towers, it’s that a cabal of newspaper running old men made a conscious decision to expose two members of the public to the full brunt of the worlds scorn for doing nothing more than offending the sensibilities of a demographic of their readership.

This isn’t just the Mail, this is the full spectrum of the UK’s press that either pushed a none-story onto the front page of their papers or endlessly recycled the same judgemental hyperbole across a hundred worldwide news outlets to drum up hits, links, comments and adverts to justify their own existence.

Many commenters have noted that in this digital age it is impossible to guarantee privacy and that people should be more careful – but I don’t think this is the issue at all. This wasn’t a story until our beloved red tops started running with it, the issue is questioning what right they have to arbitrarily force private citizens into the limelight in the first place.

On Halloween I met an Irish woman dressed as an abortion, but did she have journalists running to her Catholic parents to tattle on her? Was her costume shown to people who had had abortions to capture their outrage? Were photos of her house with its exact location published on the world’s most popular news website? Did strangers call her place of study demanding she be expelled?

No, of course not. Because the right journalist didn’t have the right picture to fit the right demographic to fit the right slow news day. But it could have, it so easily could have. It could happen to any of us, because all it requires is one step out of line, one perceived slight to an preferred norm and they’ll hang you out to dry. Toe the line, show respect, think like this – or we’ll tell on you.

Were the ladies costumes offensive? Maybe. Should they have won a prize? Probably. Should they have been more sensitive to their parents history? Most likely. Who knows? Who cares? Who gives a fuck? It wasn’t offensive to the world until the press decided it was offensive to the world; there were no 9/11 widows demanding apologies inside a nightclub in Chester, and if there were there’s a good chance they wouldn’t have worn the costumes.

The whole point of everything is to make fun of everything. Are there limits? Sometimes yes, but they’re contextual, and nothing destroys context like the outrage of a dozen bored journalists. We need to keep our love of bad taste, of risking offence, of being a dick in public sometimes… of spending hours making a totally tasteless Halloween costume and then winning a cash prize for it. Because that’s funny. It is. It’s funny. It’s wrong. But funny.

By the way, the Sun’s front page headline was a fucking pun.

These women will now have this moment of teenage indulgence tattooed on their Google cached permanent records for life. For the next few years, certainly, they’ll be in Turkish internet prison where the simplest search will tell nothing but of that time they pissed off the whole world. And this was done because our gang of self-regulating mouthpieces thought they fucking deserved it.

And the rest of us had better get back in our places or else – watch out – we’ll be next.

Bullshit News

Just a short post today because I want to highlight some magnificently bad articles by DM reporters over the past few days…

Firstly – this Reddit post (as sent to me by @CurlyHooligan) in where a user finds his picture of an unusual egg has been stolen by the Daily Mail. The Reddit post contains the fabulous quote

I’m not a farmer, also I don’t understand how this is news.

A thought echoed by EVERY SINGLE PERSON in the comments section.

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Interesting that the Mail claims all comments haven’t been moderated but the original Reddit poster’s comment has yet to appear…

They haven’t approved my comment on the story including the fact that “at least I can tick off defamed and misquoted by the Daily Mail off my bucket list.”

Next up is this amazing piece of journalism about the zoom function of iOS7 which is based, as far as I can tell, on a tweet from Eliza Dushku. Now, ignoring that the Mail clearly have no fucking idea how to use the word ‘literally’ in a sentence, the main thrust is that users are begging Apple for an update to control their zoom settings – something which you can do in the settings tab. Not that the Mail knew this, reported it or even bothered to Google in the first instance – almost as if they’re fabricating news items based on tweets because they don’t have the staff to write about anything that’s, you know, real.

Thirdly – and this is my favourite – the heroic story of a Kenyan civilian who helped an American family escape from the recent shopping mall terror attacks. I almost don’t know where to start with this one – the way in which his religion is shoehorned into the headline, almost underlining the incredulity and rarity of such a act (“A Muslim! I know, normally they just kill Americans but this one ACTUALLY helped them… wow… just wow!”) or the way they force an interpretation of an image which doesn’t appear to be accurate…

kenya_mall…before calling the image “iconic” and then going on to incorrectly identify the subject of their article in two more photos (how many black men in checked shirts can their be in one mall? Must be the same guy).

What I especially like about this is the story writes itself – hero civilian, saving families, shooting at terrorists and they still manage to fuck it up and be dismissively racist at the same time. That… that’s a special talent.

My conclusion to all this? The Daily Mail don’t do any research, don’t do any Googling, set their news agenda via celebrity tweets and steal content with wild abandon. They’re not alone in this, by any means, but this week has been especially shambolic and petty (remember the ‘viewer outrage over things happening the background of BBC news‘ classic?)

One final thing – also not unique to the Mail, and something I tweeted about earlier, but here’s a few grabs of music industry damage control in action on the DM comment section… hashtag #swaggerjagger

Seems like enthusiastic Cher Lloyd fan Sumak Pacha has been leaving comments defending the piss-poor-pop-princess elsewhere too…

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EDIT: @venusyprime got in touch on Twitter to point out that it’s actually the zooming animation that can’t be turned off on iOS7, not the zoom feature – although it can be reduced in the settings tab. Thanks! Still, their use of ‘literally’ is amazing.

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First Thoughts

#dontreadthedailymail Day started out as an attempt to parody those well-intended but ultimately futile Twitter protests which happen on a daily basis. #TwitterSilence was my main aim – a valid statement but executed poorly and with a terrifying backlash. I thought that a campaign to ignore something that my audience already ignored, and in doing so draw more attention to it reflected quite well the ultimately futile nature of social media protest. I also quite liked that, as with #TwitterSilence, the very nature of the campaign meant I couldn’t be an active participant in it.

I thought the idea was valid, though. The Mail has a reach and reputation far exceeding what it deserves, and much of that is from angry liberals like me pushing it out into the world. I’m always far happier when not thinking about it, so everyone else probably is too. I figured that trying to have a nicer day was a innovative twist on the general opposition to the Mail that usually exists on social media.

September 24th is not only the 3rd birthday of the account, but also my own birthday. If it all went horribly wrong I could have at least taken solace in the joke of having done all of this just to get a day off. I honestly didn’t know how it was going to go – die a death, trend all day, cause a backlash, give the DM more hits or provoke debate. It could have just been very meh and gone largely unnoticed.

In the end I think it went pretty well – the website got nearly 6000 views across the 23rd and 24th and we trended the topic a couple of times too. There was plenty of action on the hashtag from people who didn’t follow me, and I only picked up about 50 new followers which suggests it was seen as a Twitter thing and not a DMReporter thing.

There was a minor backlash of outrage that we appeared to be telling people how to live their lives, which was inevitable, and a huge number of people pointing out that the Mail was more prominent in their feeds as a result of the hashtag, which is something you just can’t avoid. We had some much appreciated tweets or RT’s from Mark Gatiss, Rufus Hound, Robert Llewellyn and the masterful Annabel Giles who helped push up the awareness.

Props must go to Daily Mail showbiz reporter Emma Lowe for being cool about the day, and for actually defending it on Facebook.

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In retrospect I think a 7 day lead in was too long as it fatigued the idea and that the ‘dontread’ part of the hashtag was too negative and didn’t push the idea across properly. Maybe next year I’ll change it to ‘ignorethedailymail’ instead.

I doubt very much that it had much of an effect on the Mail’s click rate for the day – either positive or negative. I have no idea how you would harvest that information anyway, but if anyone on the inside is privy to it then get in touch. Anonymity guaranteed.

Affecting the click rate wasn’t the main point anyway; the intention was to give people a nicer day by reducing the Mail’s digital reach and if you feel that your day was a little more cheerier and a little less provocative then I’d consider it a win. Lots of people are saying so on Twitter, and that’s always nice to read.

I’ve Storified some of the best tweets here and if you took part yesterday, in any capacity, then thank you. I’m thinking the next campaign should be encourage Lauren Laverne to follow me again. Come back Lauren, I’m sorry for the joke about the Sunderland unemployed, I miss you…

Until next year.

X

PS: The Short List had a good little feature on the hashtag, you can read it here: http://www.shortlist.com/cool-stuff/the-twitter-index-15

#dontreadthedailymail

Hello

I’m going to have a nicer day today and not read the Daily Mail, and not post jokes about it either. I’ve outlined a few reasons here. Just in case this idea is weirdly popular and lots of people suddenly rush here with comments, or complaints, or violent death threats I thought I’d say a few things.

  • I’m not suggesting anyone should stop buying the Mail if it’s their paper of choice. This isn’t a preachy behaviour change thing. It’s for the rest of us with a morbid fascination based on liberal outrage and who give in to their linkbait. I genuinely think we’ll have a nicer day without it.
  • Yes, it’s ultimately futile – but so are almost all Twitter protests. It doesn’t mean the intentions aren’t well founded. Consider it an interesting experiment.
  • I know I’m preaching to the converted – but that’s the point. We all don’t buy it but it still infects our conciousness. Let’s ditch it, consciously, for the day.
  • I am well-aware of the irony of drawing attention to something to ignore it, thankyouverymuch. I think I was trying to suggest something about the duality of man, sir.
  • The internet is a playground, to borrow a phrase, don’t take anything too seriously.

Incidentally, if this whole thing flops horribly then I’d appreciate it if you’d disregard this post as the self-inflated windbaggery of a pompous fool.

Have a nicer day.

DMReporter

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