Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘bad journalism’

Here’s a tumblr you should be watching, as a regular reminder that basically everything you read in most newspapers is bollocks. I still forget every so often and go “ooh, fancy” at some entirely fabricated pointless gossip.

I mention it now, partly because I’ve spent my day at work and my evening watching The Third Man with Kirsty and struggling to persuade her not to leave me for Orson Welles so I haven’t had time to write anything more substantive, and partly because it’s just recently started updating quite consistently. Marsh seems to have found the angle for it, namely:

“Headline-grabbing but probably misleading and badly sourced soundbite!” says group with an obvious vested interest in promoting whatever bollocks they’ve got some dodgy research to support.

It’s fun. Go have a read. Don’t believe the churnalism. I’m off to bed.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Following up from yesterday’s thing, the Daily Mail also joined in with visiting the sins of 18th century slave owners upon Richard Dawkins.

They included a charming picture of a white guy whipping some black slaves, as if this were a concept that required illustrating, so that you can understand the full impact this revelation has on the argument for non-theistic evolution.

Their caption for the picture of Dawkins himself read:

Richard Dawkins has condemned slavery despite his ancestors making their money through forced labour.

I had some fun on Twitter thinking of some other breaking news stories the paper might uncover:

“Many modern Germans decry Nazism, even though their grandparents let Hitler run the entire country for years.” #dailymailhotscoop

“Many black Americans nowadays expect equality with whites, despite their ancestors’ status as owned property.” #dailymailhotscoop

“Pope Benedict sticking with Christianity even though the founder of his church was a Jew.” #dailymailhotscoop

That sort of thing. Feel free to come up with some of your own in the comments below.

And apparently the Times also had a feature on Dawkins yesterday, though “feature” in this case appears to translate to “several paragraphs of personal insults”.

Bravo, Camilla Long. You really caught the indignancy of Richard Dawkins’s hair and the nibbliness of his voice, and in so doing made a valuable contribution to the noble field of journalism.

Read Full Post »

Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre has won the tabloid bullshit of the month award over at Five Chinese Crackers. It could not possibly be more deserved.

Read Full Post »

In addition to the (currently) regular evening posts appearing here, I’m going to try starting an afternoonly habit of providing some very quick links to things that interested me in passing, and which I can’t be bothered writing about properly.

As you can probably tell, I gave it the first name I could think of. It’s fun to say, but may need a change. Anyway. Onward.

– Like all the magically magnetic headline-grabbers who crop up now and then, this kid’s probably just sticky.

Goldfish shoals nibbling at your toes might be a recipe for geek nostalgia, but may not be medically advisable.

– Obama’s visiting my homeland at the moment. I hope the PM’s making him feel welcome.

– The triangle you’re seeing isn’t really there. Which is just as well because it can’t possibly exist.

So, there’ll be a proper post tonight, and maybe another one of these tomorrow. That’s the plan.

Feel free to make suggestions below, of stories you think I might be too lazy to cover in more detail than a sentence or two.

Read Full Post »

I told you yesterday I was having trouble keeping up the earnestness.

It all seems barely less terrible in that part of the world than it was yesterday, but there are other petty things worth getting annoyed about, in between just feeling sad.

Ben Goldacre has pointed to an article in the Daily Mail which is dripping with even more bullshit than you’d expect.

It suggests that a “supermoon” – basically the moon being closer to us than it usually is – could have caused the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. And by describing this as “the latest natural disaster” of its kind, it seems to take it as read that the moon has already been wreaking havoc in numerous other ways.

“Astrologers” are credited with predicting that, in just over a week, the moon will be closer to Earth than it has been in years, and so its gravitational impact will be increased, causing “chaos”.

The first problem with this is fuck astrologers. Astronomers – the ones who actually do science instead of just making shit up – have kinda been on top of the moon’s perigees and apogees – that is, the times when it’s closest or farthest from Earth – for quite a while now. And yes, at the upcoming perigee it will be a smidge closer than it has been for a few years, but not by much. It’s less than half a percent closer than it was in the February perigee, and it’ll be a while before it’s that close again.

The second problem is that this upcoming perigee is due on March 19th. Saying the extra gravity could have caused disasters on Earth in the past few days is like saying “Hey, better watch out for werewolves, it’s only a week and a half till the full moon!” It was at its apogee – the furthest point – less than a week ago. That means the moon was further away from us than usual when the earthquake hit.

All credit to Phil Plait for explaining all this to me so that I can re-explain it all to you. As well as for putting up some repetitive and monumental stupid in his comments thread.

But what’s even more hilarious and/or murderously infuriating is that the Daily Mail posted another article, TWO DAYS previously, which describes “bizarre rumours” about a supermoon triggering “tidal waves, volcanic eruptions and even earthquakes” being put about by “conspiracy theorists” and “lunar-tics” (which, by the way, isn’t even a pun, because that’s where the word ‘lunatic’ fucking comes from).

They actually apply some moderately competent skepticism further down that article, quoting actual scientists who do much to debunk the exact same bullshit that the same newspaper is quite happy to regurgitate barely 48 hours later once something scary happened.

Never mind that the moon isn’t at the perigee for more than a week, meaning it’s currently further away than usual, and so the earthquake in the pacific isn’t what the astrologers predicted at all. Come yesterday’s scare-mongering, all the science gets relegated to way down the page, below the picture, where they know most people probably won’t look. And the last word goes to the “small and vocal minority” who are daring to defy the stodgy old scientists by believing whatever fantasies they want.

Donations are still needed and appreciated at the Red Cross and Save The Children.

Read Full Post »

Nick Davies’s book Flat Earth News is currently in the process of rendering me more cynical and disillusioned about the global business of news reporting and journalism than I’d thought possible. It’s incredibly depressing and utterly brilliant.

Of course, I’ve been following sites like the Angry Mob and Enemies Of Reason and Five Chinese Crackers and Tabloid Watch long enough to find the whole subject fairly depressing anyway. But don’t worry. It gets worse.

One thing that drove home the dismal state of journalism today in particular was this guest post on No Sleep ‘Til Brooklands, by someone to whom and about whom the Daily Mail (it had to be the Mail (actually, it really didn’t have to be the Mail, but it’s not surprising that it was)) told repeated, deliberate, unkind lies. They knew the story they wanted to tell, and completely made up a series of alleged direct quotes from someone who never said any such thing.

It’s a dishearteningly gripping read, even if you tend to support a “bollocks to the lot of it” opinion to begin with. Nobody involved is obliged to give much of a fuck if they completely misrepresent reality, and when that reality is “a person they’ve lied about” there’s little recourse for anything to be done to redress it.

It’s been too quiet here lately. I’ll have something happier to talk about soon, with luck. Tweet me a link to anything else going on that you think I should be talking about.

Read Full Post »

After the recent tabloid-driven kerfuffle of hysteria, Stephen Fry has written about the silliness of it all in his usual wonderful way, and reinforced my inclination not to trust any news I haven’t learned through Twitter these days.

Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. Twitter is a wonderful venue for very quickly sharing ideas and spreading news, but it’s still liable to various traps of misinformation – the substantial unquestioning backlash against Stephen’s own entirely misconstrued comments are a prime example, in fact, of just how far out of hand things can get.

But it’s a vast improvement on the current state of British tabloids.

Anton Vowl and Minority Thought have both highlighted a not-remotely-isolated incident of the Daily Express yelling about MUSLIMS! MUSLIMS and the terrible things THEY have been doing to US good, decent BRITISH folks.

We’re all in this together, lads. Against all of them.

Roshonara Choudhry is a Muslim extremist who was sentenced to life imprisonment this week, for the attempted murder of a government minister who’d supported the Iraq war. At the sentencing, some people in the public gallery shouted their disapproval. Outside, three guys stood around with messages printed out on sheets of A4 paper looking like something out of Chris Morris’s Four Lions.

And what the Express take from these shouts of impotent fury and flimsy signs from extremist sympathisers of a would-be murderer is that THEY are all out to get US.

Where “they” means Muslims. All of them, the entire homogeneous mass. The ones who keep blowing themselves up out in those foreign places with lots of sand, the two million or so who live in the UK who all come from different denominations and practise with differing strictness of observation, all of ’em.

And “us” means a particular subset of British people. It’s not entirely clear who “we” are. We’re not Muslims, that’s for sure. We live in the UK, or spent a while doing so at least. We’re probably not all white. And I suppose some of us might not be Christian, so long as we don’t look too foreign. But we know who is and isn’t welcome in our country, that’s for sure.

They’re callously driving home of what they know is a winning narrative, and it’s thoroughly unkind.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: