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.

venusyprime

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.

EmmaLowe89

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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The Daily Mail Would Rather Defend a Nazi than Positively Report on Russell Brand

The Daily Mail’s obsession with the Nazis is well documented and well discussed. From Lord Rothermere’s support for Hitler, to their modern day wallowing in archive material, to their amazing ability to mention the war in any article about Germany. Seriously, it’s creepy…

hitler - Search Results - Mail Online

I guess it kind of makes sense – the Daily Mail is the newspaper of the rampant xenophobe, racist and quasi-fascistic apologiser. They live in a postwar haze of easy hate and lazy stereotypes, and fighting a retrospective moral battle with a dead enemy is a lot easier than actually, y’know, employing journalists to write about real things that are happening in the real world.

Today, though, they went in the bizarre new direction of becoming Nazi apologists – and they didn’t do this out of ideological support, or at the discovery of new evidence, or to provoke debate, but to spite Russell Brand. Read the article here, it’s fucking amazing.

It seems that Brand got ejected from the GQ Awards after party for making references to event sponsor Hugo Boss’ past history with the Nazi Party. It’s not exactly new news and has been well documented in the past, but this didn’t stop Guy Walters leaping to the fashion designers defence and arguing…

  • Hugo Boss only tailored and produced Nazi uniforms, he didn’t design them, which makes him a better human than the factually flippant Russell Brand.
  • Hugo Boss made the Nazi uniforms *only* because he was a long term contractor, having started out with far more innocent brownshirts for the National Socialist Society. It was just a long-term corporate gig.
  • Hugo Boss only joined the Nazi Party to make more money from their lucrative contracts, which is morally fine.
  • Hugo Boss may have supported Hitler, but it was his quite sensible economic policies he supported and not the Jew-killing ones.
  • Hugo Boss proudly advertising he made uniforms for the SS, the Youth League and the Nazi army was just the actions “of a pragmatist.”
  • Hugo Boss in no-way engineered the use of prisoner of war labour, he just woke up one morning and “found (the company) employing forced workers from the occupied countries.”
  • Yes, conditions at Hugo Boss’ accidentally forced labour camps were horrific but some people survived to tell the tale, so how bad were they really?
  • Hugo Boss was so compassionate that he used his special connections with the Nazi’s to have an escaped worker returned to him where “the factory foreman worked her mercilessly, and she had a breakdown” before she “gassed herself with an oven.” This tale, which concludes with Boss paying for her funeral, is described by Guy Walters as being “the most poignant” and covering the funeral costs as “a noble gesture.”
  • Having described the working conditions in the Hugo Boss accidentally forced labour camp to include no doctor, little food, infestations and being forced to stay in the factory during air raids, Guy Walters concludes that “by the standards of some employers, Boss did treat his labourers reasonably well — and paid them somewhat less meanly.”

I think this article displays, more than any that have gone before it, the sheer vindictive nature of the Daily Mail. They’ve reached their frothy climax of hating Russell Brand so much – what with all his philosophical thought, none-conventional dress sense, counter-reactionary attitudes to drugs and amusing belittling of Peter Hitchens – that they would rather defend a Nazi collaborator than admit that he has a point.

When you consider that there is a third option – just not reporting on Brand at all – then you are given in a glimpse into a masochistic publication that would rather self flagellate itself into an outward denial of basic morality than accept that sometimes people you disagree with are right. But, to paraphrase the final paragraph of Guy Walters’ magnificent ode to the optimistic rewriting of history ‘it is an important distinction and may not be one appreciated by a paper as unsubtle as the Daily Mail.’

Seriously, read the article. It’s incredible.

Annoying Peter Hitchens

I’ve tried writing about Peter Hitchens a number of times before but always fallen short and never hit the publish button. He’s a conflicting and conflicted individual and I always felt that dumping him in with the swathe of semi-literate spellcheckers that makes up most (most, not all, but most) of their star columnists was a bit unfair.

You see, I *almost* like Peter HItchens. Almost. He’s certainly far better than conspiracy insanist Mel Phillips, professional rumour-repeater Littlejohn, the abandoned marionette that was once Liz Jones and whatever the cackling dad-dancer that was Dominic Sandbrook has become…

(I’m just going to take a break here and post that clip of Mel Phillips’ breakdown on Question Time because, really, if ever there was an inverted Peter Finch moment then this was it – when the swirling voice of madness finally bubbled over and we saw a brief glimpse of the world she thinks is real)

I disagree with a lot of what Peter Hitchens says, and I’m very critical of how he says it, but I have to throw some respect his way because, to give him credit, he does seem to genuinely try hard. He certainly has conviction in his beliefs, and that should roundly be applauded. His view remains constant, his morals are conservative but not ridiculous, he shows his working out and he stands his corner. I kind of like that he follows no-one on Twitter (although I do think it quite sad he searches for his name and replies to nearly every tweet) and I like that he engages with his audience.

It annoys me when he receives open abuse, and I really don’t like it when people use his brother against him. I think what’s very clear is that, if nothing else, their parents raised two articulate and intelligent people and the fact they could be so opposite is actually highly commendable. I also really like Hitchens’ general view that modern politics has died a tragic and corrupted death, and I broadly agree with his critiques of the three main parties and their failings.

I also find his tone incredibly derisive and much of his social commentary to be of a singular 1950’s world view. It carries a tremendous amount of bitterness at the evolution of society and his writing displays a stubborn lack of empathy and a deliberate tunnelvision. He may be the first to admit that he appears humourless, but his arched-conservative manner does him no favours and he appears to have virtually no self awareness.

I genuinely think he’s a bad writer; his conclusions are pained and reaching, and his often defiant tone masks some pretty illogical reasoning.

(Also, the formatting of his column on the Daily Mail app reduces the subheadings to main text size so his covering of several subjects just reads like one long hobo rant without any reasoned chaptering. It’s kind of funny.)

The problem with Peter Hitchen’s is that he writes for the Daily Mail. He regards himself an intellectual and political thinker, but he sits among sideboob articles and compelling pieces about people who find alien faces in paintings. I wonder how much he feels this harms his reputation, writing for the same paper that salivates over a game show runner-up in a bikini.

In any other publication he’d carry less weight and be less prominent but at the Mail he becomes your sneering Jon Voight uncle. You think he’s kinda badass and scary, but then you learn about his home life…

Much like his publication, his prominence makes us think he’s better than he is. He’s loud, he’s determined, he speaks clearly and has a deep baritone voice – but really, there’s not much there and it’s as tailored to be as polemic as Samantha Brick’s vanity or Katie Hopkins’ tellingitlikeitisness.

I finally wrote his article because I did a Hitchens joke today and he replied as he often does.

Hitchens

(I suspect he and many readers thought it was a straight reference to the Germany part of his article but I was trying to merge that with the piece above about single mothers which, whilst being mostly right, was delivered in some kind of garbled communist metaphor, and then adding the standard Daily Mail Nazi obsession twist. It may not have been a great joke but, hey, it’s a living, right?)

By the way – Peter Hitchens has ‘challenged me’ by replying a couple of times, but I’ve never answered to him so quite where my claim that I’m “joking” has come from, I don’t know. I’m not interested in a debate with him or even addressing his concerns. If he read any of my previous posts he’d know that while what I write are jokes, joking is one of the last things I’m doing.

Regular readers may know that I’m often conflicted as to whether this feed serves any purpose. Am I effectively just contributing to the Mails success and isn’t it better to just ignore them and they’ll go away? Etc. This little reply from Hitchens has reminded me of why I write this feed – it’s because it annoys them. It may not have any great life-changing effect but I can now rest happy knowing that at least, in a small part, in my own small way, I briefly annoyed Peter Hitchens. That’s two after mildly bugging Liz Jones. Back of the net!

Finally, I know Peter will read this so I want to end on a personal message.

Hi Peter

Thanks for reading. I’m impressed you made it this far. I just wanted to say that I meant all those nice things I said at the top. I respect you despite not liking you (although I will happily admit that I do not know you and that you’re probably much nicer in person) and I take great enjoyment from reading your work, and then making fun of it.

I like that you reply to me. That’s appreciated.  As far as I’m concerned, though, we’re laughing at you and not with you. I think there’s a lot about your persona and writing to mock, and you contribute to a newspaper that I sincerely believe to be poisonous and detrimental to our newsmedia and society at whole.

I’m not some 14 year old boy in his parents house with his dick in one hand and an iPhone in  the other – I know what I’m talking about, my reasons are valid and there’s a lot of people who agree with me. It may only be one silly and ineffective Twitter account (that’s a leftwing hate mob to you) but I’m well within my rights to make fun of you, speech marks and all, and if it’s all the same I think I’ll continue to do so.

Hitchens2

It’s not lies. It’s satire. And you know that. If you’re unsure what satire is then I encourage you to read your colleague Dominic Sandbrook’s column from last week Buck House Sold to Qatar. It’s the exact opposite of that.

Hitchens3

This account may not be as close to the wit and wisdom of the Algonquin Round Table or George Bernard Shaw as you’d like, but it entertains a few people and I suspect may still do more good than that wretched rag you write for. I’d like to thank you, Peter, because by responding to me you’ve managed to validate my account and renewed my interest and vigour.

I look forward to working with you

DMReporter

Sympathy for the Dickheads

My own opinion of the Daily Mail changes so often that I barely pay any attention to the mood swings any more. I’ve moved from hatred, to fear, to amusement, to admiration and back again so many times that I’ve accepted it as a hazard of the job. Today, though, I experienced a new one – pity.

Maybe it was the hot day, maybe it was the enveloping tiredness, maybe I was stoned (just threw that one in for Peter Hitchens – it’ll make the criticisms of me easier for him) but today I somehow looked at the website with eyes anew, and kind of saw it for the pathetic dad-dancer of a publication that is.

A cursory glance of the front page reveals a story about a man who collects irons, three separate stories about three separate members of the Saturdays shooting the same music video, two articles on Jeremy Kyle being on holiday, several pieces describing what’s been happening on reality TV shows, a half dozen notable rapes and murders in exotic locations, the heroic story of a lady who campaigned to have a lamppost removed from outside her house, countless descriptions of celebrity tweets or Instagrams, God knows how many conflicting predictions of extreme weather and a weird preoccupation with someone called Farrah Abraham who appears to just run around in a bikini with her daughter after having filmed a porno.

I’m not going to deny that they don’t sometimes write important stories, and they do indeed cover most newsworthy events in one shape or the other, but it all seems so secondary to this churning cycle of bullshit – unimportant, recycled, painfully reaching tat – that it smothers any good work they actually do.

It occurred to me just how sad the whole publication is; how it must be awful writing for them when 75% of the content is pulled from Reddit, or Twitter, or is just finding ways to describe tabloid long lens intrusions into Jennifer Garner’s children, or watching Big Brother just so you can repeat what happened, or rewriting stories that we found in other newspapers. I’ve lost count of how many articles include the sentence “in an article with the Sun…” or “…as the Guardian has claimed.” It’s not Fleet Street, it’s not hotfooting it around town looking for the hot scoop – it’s reading Reddit and following Ashton Kutcher on Twitter.

Two quotes I’ve heard recently which pretty much sum up their whole ethos:

Jeremy Clarkson in the Sunday Times in 2011

It has no sense of remorse or humility. It’s fuelled by hatred. It hates people who are successful. It hates people who are not.

It hates people who are fat just as much as it hates people who are thin. It hates everybody. But for some reason it seems especially to hate me…

And Amanda Palmer on Newsnight this week

Obviously the Daily Mail is not going to care one way or another if I’m the kind of performance artist or musician that gets naked. They just know they’ve caught a photograph of a woman with her breast slightly exposed and actually the context is irrelevant  Whether they knew that I was the sort of performance artist that gets naked at other times doesn’t matter to them because they know it doesn’t really matter to their readers.

I’m assuming you’ve all seen her Daily Mail song, right? 

The same sad tiredness is also showing in their columnists work. In the same way in which the news content is driven by a need to write something – anything – to keep the cycle going, the opinion pieces echo the desperation for content that is provoking and plentiful, but with virtually no thought behind them.

This week has yielded the most magnificently awful column I’ve read in nearly three years of running this account. Dominic Sandbrook’s Buck House sold to Qatar. The King lives in a small flat. The only people who marry are gay is a beautiful failure of satire at its most basic level – a kind of apocalyptic re-imagining of Richard Littlejohn’s To Hell in a Handcart but written by a rightwing evangelical who’s taken 2 grams of mescaline and has an hard-on that just won’t go away.

It charts a future vision of a Britain ruled by our new baby king, in which the internet porn addled minds of a drugged population wallow in the fiery depths of gay marriage and EU dictatorships where poverty and foreigners benefits are our only business. I’ve paused at that point to take a breath, Sandbrook doesn’t. It’s meant to be satire, it’s meant to be funny but it is neither. There’s a simple reason for this, it’s that RIGHTWING HUMOUR IS NEVER FUNNY.

I have a friend who used to work in the Sky News newsroom. He always flatly refuted any theories about a Murdoch controlled newsopoly because the newsroom was run in such a state of chaos and disarray that the idea they could even produce a workable production schedule was laughable.

I’m beginning to feel that way about the Daily Mail. They’re just teenagers in the corner giggling at boobs, but everyone’s paying attention to them because they’re the loudest.

To end on, here’s a picture of Amanda Palmer’s boob so that this blog will be banned by the porn filter.