Sunday, 14 April 2013

Dan Grabs the Headlines

I know, it has been a while. So I want to return with something I can do for a while, a series where I look at the newspaper front pages for the past week.

8th April


We start off in auspicious fashion by looking at an absolute turd of a story from The Daily Mail. The basics are that (apparently) because crucifixes are now allowed to be worn at work the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has advised employers that vegans, pagans and environmentalists will also need to have their rights respected.

So... good? No! The Daily Mail shrieks this will allow "giving believers time off to go on pilgrimages, such as druids and pagans going to Stonehenge, while environmentalists should be free to lecture other staff about their car use". People talking about what car they drive? Unforgivable! And what about all those bloody Pagans? Well, looking at 2011 census data, Pagans make up approximately 0.0015% of the UK population. I have a feeling they chose Pagans over, say Sikhs, purely as that it adds to the "isn't this just bonkers?" tone of the article. Even though Pagans are as entitled to their beliefs as followers to any other religion.

Probably the most shocking quote from this article is this: "Even atheists should have their beliefs respected, according to the new guidance." Even atheists?! Even those disgusting creatures?! It beggars belief in this day and age that a mainstream newspaper could print such prejudice. Here's a fun game - swap out the word "atheist" with a racial pejorative. Yep, that quote sounds just like bigotry all right.

All of this begs the question: why does this insult Christians? Because employers will have to treat non-Christian beliefs as equally as Christian ones? That's only an insult if you don't respect other people's beliefs - which is what the crucifix-wearing saga was about in the first place.

9th April


I could have chosen The Daily Mail's "THE WOMAN WHO SAVED BRITAIN" but for sheer comedy value The Sun takes this one.

I probably don't need to tell you that The Sun isn't too popular in the north of England (she isn't too popular in Scotland either - that was where she chose to first try out the poll tax). Fans of Liverpool FC have boycotted the paper ever since The Sun's disgusting coverage of the Hillsborough disaster, and The Sun's support of Thatcher didn't go over too well either.

Maybe this played a part in that bizarre headline. They could have left it at "Maggie Dead". At least that would be factual - if grammatically incorrect. But they furnish us with another detail: "Maggie Dead in Bed". It sounds like a very grim episode of Blue's Clues. Is it important that she died in her bed? To answer that you have to look at the fact they put her location in the headline too. Why state that? They also could have just put "hotel" so "Ritz" was a conscious decision.

Are they allaying any fears we may have that she died in agony and in some run-down establishment? Are they taunting us with the fact that she even died surrounded by the kind of opulence most of us plebs could only dream of? Well I think those could be two factors but there is a third - to get a "bloody typical!" reaction from the readers, to make them feel she somehow wanted to go out in posh, fancy surroundings just to wind up the reader. It is clever as it means they can retain some appeal - even in the aforementioned Sun-unfriendly north - for those that liked and disliked Thatcher. You could read it two ways.

The same could be said for the by-line "Funeral like Diana's next week". Is that a fitting end for a great leader on an insult to the nation? You can read it both ways. Everyone knows The Sun is all about maximum appeal and it is stuff like this that keeps them as the nation's most bought newspaper.

10th April


Thatcher's death was inevitably going to grab all the headlines this week but The Daily Mirror went for a bold front page asking "Why is Britain's most divisive Prime Minister getting a ceremonial funeral fit for a Queen?" It is actually a very good point, we will have to wait to see what kind of funerals Blair, Brown and Cameron will get to really be able to say whether that is over the top.

A lot of other papers covered the "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead" campaign, the street parties people had celebrating her passing and so on. Personally I didn't have a party. I didn't like her but I didn't have a party or whoop for joy on knowing of her passing. I had the reaction most people I know did: "Really? Wow. Well, she was getting on a bit." The campaign to get "Ding Dong" to number 1 in the UK charts isn't a disgrace. It is free expression, people are free to buy whatever they want. You can't ignore the fact that a lot of people hated Margaret Thatcher (although the establishment is trying bloody hard to do just that) and a lot of people will not be mourning her passing.

The £10 million pound figure is (apparently) how much security will cost at the event. This is probably to make sure nobody tries to disrupt the funeral by, say, playing the current number 1 single in the UK during the service. There was a good quote from Ken Loach on the service: "Let's privatise her funeral. Put it out to competitive tender and accept the cheapest bid. It's what she'd have wanted."

11th April


The I actually don't capitalise their headlines but I wanted this to fit in with the others. The story covers how Dutch authorities have (apparently) recalled over 50,000 tons of meat as "every single meat product sold by two Dutch suppliers as beef in more than two years was under suspicion." Just... wow. In exact terms this is a precautionary measure as the Dutch authorities could not trace the exact source of the meat. This is also a widespread issue, as "the meat was believed to have been sold on to more than 500 companies across 16 European countries including Britain."

For what it is worth I shove kebabs and all kinds of "food" of dubious nutritional quality and animal origin into my gob so the horse meat crisis doesn't concern me all that much.

12th April


Would you believe there is an entire blog devoted to The Daily Express putting miracle cures on their front page? Well there is. There really isn't much need for me to go over what is already covered in good detail by the blog post they did on this story. Their conclusion, however:

"CURE = Potential effective treatment to an unknown level of pain reduction in some unspecified cases."

On another note this kind of "copy and pasted from a press release" article
is becoming an all-too-common occurrence in the tabloids. Thankfully we have blogs like the one linked above, Bad PR, Bad Science, and the Churnalism website from the Media Standards Trust (which can be used to detect if a press release pasted into the website has been recycled as a news story by media outlets).

In case you are wondering "churnalism" is the official term for this kind of lazy "cut-and-paste" journalism.

13th April


This pile of crap story is regarding the Princess Diana Memorial Fund using some of its money to fund a campaign to change the British public's perceptions of immigration, which are massively out of step with reality - for more on that see here and here.

But that isn't really the point here - the point is that Diana's charity is being use to fund the Changing Minds charity, which is (apparently) a Lefty, pro-immigration propaganda campaign. Which is definitely a very bad thing as Diana was famously an immigrant-hating piece of shit.

That's the week in news, come back next week for reactionary bullshit, pretend outrage, outlandish claims and bold-faced lies.