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Probe Into Shock Tabloid Rumpus
July 27, 2010 2:28 AM   Subscribe

Tabloid Watch and Daily Mail Watch (previously) keep a beady eye on what Nick Davies' Flat Earth News calls "churnalism" in British media. So, you can find out if PC Officials Tone Down Punch and Judy, if Councils Install Muslim-only Toilets or if Muslim Bus Drivers Turf Guide Dogs off the Bus.
posted by TheophileEscargot (24 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
The Daily Mail's issue isn't churnalism. This actually does it a disservice. What it is expert at is taking a story printed elsewhere, adding a different angle, finding some other lines of enquiry and supplying a picture.

In its strictest sense, churnalism is just that: chopping a few words here and there but basically keeping things the same. Paul Dacre's skills - and I hesitate to sound like I'm complimenting him - is understanding how to differentiate his stories from ones that sound just like everyone else's. Like it or loathe it, the Daily Mail isn't ploughing exactly the same furrow as the other papers.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:49 AM on July 27, 2010


What it is expert at is taking a story printed elsewhere, adding a different angle, finding some other lines of enquiry and supplying a picture.

When you read, for example, the Mail Watch's examination of this piece of sloppy shite, it looks like the Mail is expert at winding up ignorant bigots with xenophobic propaganda.
posted by pracowity at 3:10 AM on July 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Good for the Mail Watch for pointing out that the race/culture wars are all in the media's head (as usual); now I'd like to see them seek out a few key voices from the British Muslim community for comment on this so-called phenomenon.
posted by Mooseli at 3:14 AM on July 27, 2010


Now that I look at those links again, though, it looks like the dog-bus story is in something called "Get Reading", which as far as I can see (and I don't have a dog on this bus) is not the same as the Daily Mail. I guess Mail Watch watches Get Reading on the side.
posted by pracowity at 3:24 AM on July 27, 2010


Get Reading is the website of the Reading Post and is where the Daily Mail picked up the story in the first place. Did you actually read the link you posted?
posted by ninebelow at 3:44 AM on July 27, 2010


No. In fact, I am not reading this post or your comments. I'm just guessing at the text. Pretty good so far, eh?

Yes, I read it, thank you very much, but mainly scanning for the story about the poor old man and his dog who were so brutally mistreated by the lackeys of shrieking foreign harridans, so I missed that little tidbit. I promise to be ever so careful from now on, just for you.
posted by pracowity at 4:03 AM on July 27, 2010


Fine, fine, you read the article. You just ignored the comment you replied to. And the first paragraph of the article. And the sixth paragraph. And everything after that, including the update at the end about the Sunday Times lifting the story from the Daily Mail.

The whole point of this post is not that the Mail is racist trash (which is self-evident) but rather the way in which newspaper stories are distorted and propogated by the tabloids. As MuffinMan says, this is a sort of Churnalism Plus. So you may have read it but I think you've missed the real story.
posted by ninebelow at 4:27 AM on July 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


So that's how you do sarcasm.
posted by longbaugh at 4:27 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


On the other hand, I work in disability and I didn't realise that getting a taxi was difficult for guide dog users because of the religious propensities of the majority of taxi drivers. How interesting.
posted by alasdair at 5:06 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Get Reading is the website of the Reading Post and is where the Daily Mail picked up the story in the first place. Did you actually read the link you posted?

The article goes on to state that the Mail probably picked the story up from the Sunday Times, and it was the ST that had apparently lifted it from the local paper.
posted by ceiriog at 5:44 AM on July 27, 2010


So, other than having to print the occasional retraction or pay a trivial (from their point of view) amount in damages, is there any incentive whatsoever for papers like the Mail to stop printing hearsay and distortion?

Because I know a couple of people who view the world through the lens of the Daily Mail and I'm really getting fed up with trying to explain the truth to them every time they quote these lunatic stories.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 5:59 AM on July 27, 2010


I'm really glad this exists. I was thinking that I wanted to find something like this only the other day, only what I wanted was something for the Metro, London's daily free newspaper.

That had a story in it the other day about a man who was unfairly dismissed from his job - they presented this as if the fact that the courts had ruled that he was unfairly dismissed was somehow terribly unfair to his employers.

It was bizarre.
posted by lucien_reeve at 6:06 AM on July 27, 2010


Grand Theft Rothbury is particularly distasteful.
posted by Artw at 6:20 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


i love that word. churnalism. so appropriate. hardly confined to tabloids or to britain.

makes me miss the weekly world news all that much more.
posted by msconduct at 6:24 AM on July 27, 2010


American tabloids seem fairly harmless, as they restrict themselves to celebrity gossip and explicit gibberish that doesn't relate to the real world. On the other hand you do have FOX news.
posted by Artw at 6:32 AM on July 27, 2010


Yeah, but the UK has Sky (which is really just a more cleverly disguised Fox). I say that the US actually wins this round. UK tabloid papers are awful, and highly-pervasive.

(Although the BBC is fantastic. I'll gladly pay the license fee if they eve let foreigners join in)
posted by schmod at 7:15 AM on July 27, 2010


So, other than having to print the occasional retraction or pay a trivial (from their point of view) amount in damages, is there any incentive whatsoever for papers like the Mail to stop printing hearsay and distortion?

This was an interesting point that Nick Davies' Flat Earth News (referenced in the OP) makes - the Daily Mail has a colossal legal war chest. In short, not really. By contrast, there is a considerable disincentive to suing - over and above the fact that they buy their ink by the barrel.

The PCC is not terribly effective. The best defense is self-organisation: the de facto boycott by Liverpudlians of The Sun post-Hillsborough would be much easier to organise in an era of blogs, Facebook etc.
posted by MuffinMan at 7:22 AM on July 27, 2010


This seems to be a good point to bring up Daily Mail Island again (NSFW)
posted by Bwithh at 9:08 AM on July 27, 2010


Somewhat related twitter stream @badjournalism - Reading the Daily Mail so you don't have to!
posted by TwoWordReview at 10:11 AM on July 27, 2010


My favorite Punch and Judy story is the one where they calmly discuss their expectations and needs, and decide to work together to help support and nurture each other.

What, you didn't see that one?
posted by Xoebe at 11:20 AM on July 27, 2010


The punch and judy story had this excellent quote

""Mr Punch is still a rascal and still has a variety of weapons in his arsenal but they are more socially appropriate.""

what, like knives and guns?
posted by marienbad at 1:43 PM on July 27, 2010


Or maybe a police baton?
posted by marienbad at 1:43 PM on July 27, 2010


So does either of these sites have anything to say about the somali asylum seeker who has been given a £2 million house in Kensington? It was in most of the papers, so is it true? I have searched but can't find it on the mail watch site.
posted by marienbad at 1:56 PM on July 27, 2010


The Sun: flogging a live donkey
posted by Artw at 3:31 PM on July 27, 2010


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