[news] The most dangerous drug isn’t meow meow. It isn’t even alcohol… … Charlie Brooker on the British Press … ‘In its purest form, a newspaper consists of a collection of facts which, in controlled circumstances, can actively improve knowledge. Unfortunately, facts are expensive, so to save costs and drive up sales, unscrupulous dealers often “cut” the basic contents with cheaper material, such as wild opinion, bullshit, empty hysteria, reheated press releases, advertorial padding and photographs of Lady Gaga with her bum hanging out. The hapless user has little or no concept of the toxicity of the end product: they digest the contents in good faith, only to pay the price later when they find themselves raging incoherently in pubs, or – increasingly – on internet messageboards.’
[magazines] The many, many trials of Judy Finnigan … The strange world of British women’s weekly magazines… ‘The inventiveness of the editors of Bella, Best, Woman and Woman’s Own is hugely impressive, and I am in awe of their ability to create compelling, gripping coverlines each week from perhaps three interesting words in a dull interview or an out-of-context Loose Women soundbite. These headlines are always accompanied by a grainy, blown up paparazzi pic or screen grab of the story’s subject looking either demented, drunk, dying or, if they get very lucky, all three at once.’
[papers] Daily Express weather warning: beware a shower of extreme inaccuracy … George Monbiot on the weather headlines of the Daily Express … ‘No winter approaches without predictions in the Express of Snowmageddon. In November 2012, Rao’s headline warned us: “Coldest Winter in 100 Years on Way”. In November 2013, he promised “100 DAYS OF HEAVY SNOW: Britain now facing worst winter in SIXTY YEARS warn forecasters”. In October 2014, a story by the same author told readers “Winter 2014 set to be ‘coldest for century’. Britain faces ARCTIC FREEZE in just weeks”. In November, another article of his was headlined “POLAR VORTEX WARNING: Latest winter weather models show UK faces MONTHS of heavy snow”. And so it went on all the way until the end of January, when the front page blared: “Britain on RED alert: ‘Displaced polar vortex’ to unleash crippling snowstorms next week”. Needless to say, it was all bollocks with bells on.’
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[dailyfail] Profits Of Doom … Is the Daily Mail Online as sucessful as it seems? … ‘DMGT also reported that their print advertising was down 2%, bringing in only £53million this year. This figure was kind of brushed over in favour of talk of website growth – played down almost – but it’s worth a quick look. £53 million is £12 million more in ad revenue than the website generates. Yes, the website’s growth has been impressive – it has become the biggest newspaper website in the world – but it’s actually pulling in much less cash than its dead-tree equivalent. The Daily Mail’s circulation is 1.6 million, about 1% of its apparent online audience. So the ad space they’re selling online is actually, relatively, worthless and it appears to be their only major stream of revenue.’
[press] 2013 According To The Daily Express Front Page … ‘You only need to look at four topics – health breakthroughs, weather, immigration and Maddie McCann – before you’ve accounted for half of their lead stories for the entire year.’
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June 17, 2013
[dailyfail] What do Daily Mail commenters think about young criminals? … a look into the mind of a commenter on the Daily Mail’s website… ‘The Daily Mail is a newspaper generally catering to a right-leaning audience that mourns the death of England proper. Its website’s commenters fit that mould and there is plenty that they would like government to resurrect. Typing in “bring back” shows some of the things that they are after. Corporal or capital punishment is at the top of their list with some comments stating adamantly that the birch should make a return.’
[guardian] A Comment Generator For The Guardian … ‘Collecting my oak-smoked Salmon and dry-cured Trout direct from the smokehouse led me to a fascinating chat with the proprietor this afternoon. Quinoa is great in a packed lunch but it doesn’t keep Quentin full for his after-school amateur dramatics. We should all go back to living in communes like they did in Sweden in the 70s!’
[watergate] Did the Press Uncover Watergate? [Part 1 | Part 2] … fascinating look (from 1974) at the myth that it was investigative journalism that uncovered Watergate … ‘In keeping with the mythic view of journalism, however, the book [All the Presidents Men] never describes the “behind-the-scenes” investigations which actually “smashed the Watergate scandal wide open”-namely the investigations conducted by the FBI, the federal prosecutors, the grand jury, and the Congressional committees. The work of almost all those institutions, which unearthed and developed all the actual evidence and disclosures of Watergate, is systematically ignored or minimized by Bernstein and Woodward. Instead, they simply focus on those parts of the prosecutors’ case, the grand-jury investigation, and the FBI reports that were leaked to them’
[dailyfail] How the Daily Mail Conquered England … The New Yorker Profiles The Daily Mail … ‘The Mail has an oral quality, prompting the exclamations of wonder or disgust that attend what the media critic Roy Greenslade has called “Hey, Doris!” stories. Its quirks include a love of aviation, and the annoying habit of inserting real-estate prices into stories that have nothing to do with them, such as the death in a ski-resort accident of a boy whose parents “live in a £1 million house.” Its columnists range from sensible to unhinged. (One, Liz Jones, recently wrote about stealing her husband’s sperm in an attempt to have a child without his permission, earning her the nickname Jizz Loans.)’
[press] Dail Mail Ethics Memorandum circa 1966 … A different time, a different Daily Mail … ‘No member of the staff intrudes or is called to intrude into private lives where no public interest is involved.’
It’s hard to cheer when a newspaper closes. Even one you’re slightly scared of, like the Daily Mail. Even though the Mail isn’t technically a newspaper, more a serialised Necronomicon. In fact it’s not even printed, but scorched on to parchment by a whispering cacodemon. The Mail can never close. It can only choose to vacate our realm and return to the dominion in which it was forged; a place somewhere between shadow and dusk, beyond time and space, at the dark, howling apex of infinity. London W8 5TT.
Yet despite being a malevolent ink-and-paper succubus that will devour your firstborn – seriously, chuck a baby at a copy of the Mail, and watch as the paper roll its eyes back and swallows it whole – the Mail deserves its voice. At the Leveson inquiry, when seething Daily Mail orchestrator Paul Dacre was quizzed about Jan Moir’s notorious column on the death of Stephen Gateley, he acknowledged that she’d possibly gone too far, but added that he “would die in a ditch” to defend a columnist’s freedom of speech. Whatever you think of Dacre, that’s a brave and noble thing to say, although disappointingly he failed to indicate precisely when he was planning on doing it.
[press] An Express Year .. a fascinating look at the varieties of Daily Express headlines for a year … ‘Speaking of princesses, Diana remained dead: DIANA INQUEST SAMPLES SWITCHED (May 10), DIANA DEATH FILM COVER-UP (Jul 2), DIANA POLICE FACE ARREST (Jul 22), DIANA’S SECRET ENGAGEMENT (Aug 17), PRINCES BACK IN DIANA’S FLAT (Dec 18)’
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Then – in 1995 – Murdoch begins to change. He decides he likes Tony Blair and tells [Woodrow] Wyatt he may support him at the coming election. Wyatt can’t believe it. He had thought that Murdoch would always support the Conservatives.
And then Murdoch does something worse. He tells the editor of the News of the World to cut back on the column that he had allowed Wyatt to write every week.
Wyatt is in despair. There is a wonderful moment in the diaries when Wyatt sleeps all night on the floor of his study next to the phone waiting for Murdoch to ring.
[press] Will The Guardian bring down Rupert Murdoch? … ‘It is, frankly, an amazing story. The indomitable patriarch who will shortly be forced to plead age and infirmity; his headstrong son whose eagerness to do what his father would have done will shortly doom him; the loyalists who will unquestionably fall on their swords; an upending of the moral landscape in which the miscreants once happily functioned; and the virtuous newspaper, perhaps the last great newspaper, with a last great editor, who, long waiting for and never believing it would get such an opportunity, now has the devil in its sights.’
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[guardian] Their Questions Answered … a blog that attempts to answer the rhetorical questions posed on the letters page of the Guardian Weekend magazine every week … ‘No rhetorical questions were posed in the Letters page of the Guardian Weekend magazine, Saturday 15 January 2011. As a result we are going to spend the next week reassessing our lives and purposes.’
The recent tragedy where two hot air balloonists were killed was quite rightly headline news.” revealed one British reporter.
“But if it had been two prostitutes flying that balloon it wouldn’t have got anywhere near the same coverage, though it might have made page 5 of The Sun, with a headline something like Slag, Bang, Wallop!”
“It would take about twelve prostitutes to die in a balloon crash to make headline news. I’m not sure why twelve prostitutes would be flying a balloon, but I guess if you had enough money and a fetish for that sort of thing then anything is possible.
[news] The News … Charlie Brooker on the news coverage about Raoul Moat … ‘The hunt for Raoul Moat got the news so flustered, it shrieked its reports at a pitch several hundred octaves above satire. Beneath a photograph of Britain’s Most Wanted Man as an infant, The Sun ran the caption “Cute baby … but two-month-old Moat clenches his fists”. On the front page, his estranged mother apparently wished him dead.’
HOLLIE says there is no need to panic over the Chancellor’s spending cuts. She said: “£6.2billion sounds like a colossal figure. But if you imagine public spending as a giant pizza, we’re talking about barely a few anchovies. And I can’t stand the salty little beggars anyway.”
[funny] What have we today? … great collection of green ink letters written to newspapers in the early nineties … ‘My eight-year-old boy is a strange lad. He’s bothered about the planet and interested in butterflies and insects as well as other animals. He never watches football. Do you think he’s going to be gay? (Daily Star)’
He had sold, he believed, between 25 and 35 million copies of The Longest Day and 400,000 hardcover copies of The Last Battle in the United States alone. Yet each book had cost him some $150,000 to research. “I have no less than 7,000 books on every aspect of World War II. My files contain some 16,000 different interviews with Germans, British, French, etc,” he wrote. “Then there is the chronology of each battle, 5×7 cards, detailing each movement by hour for the particular work I’m engaged in. You may think this is all a kind of madness, an obsession. I suppose it is.”
I remember once I had a woman come in who was really on the edge of a breakdown. She was talking about civil war and chaos, immigrants coming up the lanes of Sunderland with knives between their teeth to murder her. She was really in a terrible state.
“I just said to her ‘What paper do you read, love?’ and, of course, it was the Daily Mail. I just said ‘stop reading it and you’ll find life gets better.’ That’s the only advice I could offer.
[london] 2009 in Evening Standard headlines … Samizdata.net on the Evening Standard’s 2009 Headline Boards … ‘At first the guys giving it away carried on with the billboards, but I knew that this practice would soon fade away. If no money is being made in the street from these newspapers, why go to all the bother of advertising them in the street. So it is that if you click on the last picture of all, you see that where there used to be informatively alarming stories about doom and disaster, now there are only forlorn signs saying that the ES now costs nothing.’ [thanks Phil]
[health] Kill or Cure? … a website analysing The Daily Mail’s cancer coverage… ‘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.’
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July 11, 2009
[doom] Doomwatch … calculating what we should be scared of today .. ‘Right now, the Daily Mail thinks you should be quaking in your boots about: murder, swine flu, iran, north korea, thatcher.’
[press] Michael Wolff: ‘Newspapers stopped working a long time ago and a better means of doing their job is readily available. It’s an asinine debate. Who wouldn’t want their news delivered in a form that was searchable, saveable, resendable, which you can talk back to, which is linked to other relevant news, which allows you to read as lightly or as deeply as you wanted to, and which combines text, pictures, and video?’ [via Journalista]
[press] The Evening Standard Says Sorry … ‘This poster campaign seeks to signal the changes on the way by apologising for various perceived sins, including complacency, predictability and the afore-mentioned negativity. None of the posters mention the newspaper by name, but simply carry its Eros logo.’
[press] Richard Littlejohn Audit 2008: Year Of The Nazi … ‘I have concluded that 2008 for Richard was very much the year of the ‘Nazi’. Littlejohn gave us the: ‘elf ‘n’ safety nazi’, ‘road safety nazi’, ‘anti-smoking nazi’, ‘eco-nazis’, ‘dustbin nazis’, ‘recycling nazis’, ‘diversity nazis’, ‘tinpot nazis’, ‘condiment nazis’, ‘nail-varnish nazis’, ‘noise abatement nazis’ and ‘City of London Corporation safety nazis.’ [via More(ish)]
‘Consider the pace at which the story unfolds. Nobody is in control of it, which means it occasionally gets quite dull. We can’t fast forward or time-switch. We’re not invited to phone in and vote for which suspect we would like to see arrested. Key scenes and pieces of information are kept from us in a way that would defeat the point of a show like Big Brother. But we find this all the more compelling. The one nod to conventional broadcasting principles is that the ratings have mattered right from the beginning. When there was a risk that they might slump, David Beckham was drafted in to speak on the matter, thus giving the story a new boost. Most grippingly of all, we have no idea what genre of story we are watching, so have no idea how or when it might end.’