Perhaps unsurprisingly The Times decided against - or more likely didn't even think about - giving Balls his own front page wrap. Though I like to think* they might be kicking themselves now.
(* They won't be.)
Perhaps unsurprisingly The Times decided against - or more likely didn't even think about - giving Balls his own front page wrap. Though I like to think* they might be kicking themselves now.
(* They won't be.)
The Daily Express is once again leading with a front page story telling us there are several 'golden rules' to ensuring a longer life. In the past the number of golden rules has varied from four to ten, as the below selection illustrates.
However they dress them up the golden rules are always the same and revolve around eating more healthily; drinking less alcohol; not smoking and getting some exercise. None of which of course is rocket science. How long such common sense continues to be considered front page news is anybody's guess.
Over in the US, President Obama has waded into the debate surrounding CNN's craptacular coverage of the Boston bombing and subsequent manhunt. Speaking at the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner, Obama joked:
"I know CNN has taken some knocks lately, but I admire their commitment to cover all sides of the story just in case one of them happens to be accurate."
Our very own Piers Morgan (though America, you're very welcome to keep him) was also singled out by comedian and US talk show host Conan O'Brien speaking at the dinner. O'Brien questioned CNN's judgement in replacing "the popular Larry King with one of the scheming footmen from Downton Abbey".
When Amanda Thatcher turned up at her grandmother's funeral you could practically hear the 'posh totty' klaxon going off at picture desks across London. Forget the old lady in the coffin, her grandaughter was instant front page news:
The moment the cameras settled on Amanda Thatcher at the funeral, people watching the coverage and commenting on Twitter knew exactly how the story was going to play out because we'd seen it all before with Pippa Middleton and the media's obsession with her bottom:
Rosamund Urwin over at The Standard has written a good piece, declaring that Pippa Middleton's bottom can probably now be retired from tabloid duty. The papers have moved on to somebody who caught their eye at a funeral. Their posh totty correspondents have fresh quarry. Today's Daily Star is unequivocal about that fact - 'The Iron Lovely' (see what they did there) is the new Pippa Middleton (formerly 'Her Royal Hotness'):
CNN today reported...
This was followed with...
That basically sums up a pretty bad day at the office for US journalism, because it wasn't just CNN who was making an almighty hash of this story, the misinformation was spread far and wide. Buzzfeed has captured it all here.
Twitter's shameful Boston chancers
Whenever tragedy strikes, the temptation now is to look away from Twitter because in the hours and days following any major incident we tend to see some of the behaviours which consistently let Twitter down - from sensationalist and wildly inaccurate media reports to clumsy ambush marketing attempts and vile jokes or hateful comments.
This has certainly been true of the terrorist attack in Boston. Whatever the motivation there are inevitably those who see a tragedy as an opportunity - to drive web traffic, to sell products, to gain twitter followers or simply to spread hatred and cause offence.
Of course, Twitter remains a powerful source of instant news and communication at such times but that is often lost amid sensationalist misinformation - both wilful and accidental:
As soon as news breaks, people seem unable to resist the urgent need to create a defining role for themselves in the telling of the story, tweeting or retweeting the most alarming details they can find - or think up - in order to set themselves apart from those who are holding out for actual news. People look to flood the news vaccuum with misinformation.
Simon Ricketts over the Guardian has written a good piece about this.
Others meanwhile rush to judgement, shamefully seizing upon the opportunity to give vent to their hateful prejudices. In this instance people were quick to blame everybody from President Obama to North Korea for the terrorist attack in Boston.
And unlike somebody holding forth in a pub pointing the finger at who they believe is guilty - or speculating about a death toll or motive - those sharing ill-informed theories on Twitter can very quickly become part of a gathering storm which has a speed and a scale unseen in the real world.
Inevitably some of the nastiest comments by far on Twitter have come from vile hate mob the Westboro Baptist Church who have threatened to picket the funerals of victims and claim the attacks were God's punishment for same sex marriage.
Another hallmark of major news breaking on Twitter seems to be that there is always at least one brand which inevitably tries to piggyback on public interest in unfolding events to market products or services.
Remember Gap taking advantage of the deadly hurricane Sandy to promote its online shopping services to New Yorkers trapped indoors?
With the Boston Marathon terrorist attack it was food website Epicurious:
The tweets from Epicurious were certainly stupid but probably crass and clueless more than malicious. We've seen such tweets enough in the past to know somebody will always get it wrong.
However, far more baffling was this attempt to exploit the tragedy, from somebody pretending to be comedian Lee Evans:
We can safely assume this bogus tweeter will not make good on the sizeable donation owed and they have now deleted the tweet and changed their account overnight.
As with most things which occur on Twitter, such behaviour is often an exaggeration of human failings. Tasteless jokes and ideas which might previously have drawn a shocked reaction from just a handful of people down a pub can now reach thousands or even millions of people.
The chancers - from the clumsy and the insensitive to the downright twisted and hateful - who would exploit a tragedy may previously have done so anyway in some real world way, but Twitter makes it easier and increases the reach. The result is often a bad taste left in the mouth and another dent in our faith in humanity.
You may remember back in February a journalist writing for the Daily Mail got a very public dressing down over at Mumsnet after she posted a rather loaded question about the NHS (see: Daily Mail journalist learns not to mess with Mumsnet).
It seems the Daily Mail has never really been a fan of Mumsnet, but since that incident the paper has published a couple of particularly negative articles about the parenting website.
You may spot a theme in the headlines: There was "Why I hate negative, judgmental Mumsnet" by TV presenter Amanda Holden and there was "Why I hate the smug bullies on Mumsnet!" by journalist Shona Sibary.
Past headlines have also included "I hate Mumsnet: Why one mum thinks the parenting website is smug, patronising and vicious".
But the latest piece has backfired slightly after the Mail was forced to publish a correction and clarification.
Not because Shona Sibary described Mumsnet as:
"...an insidious website inhabited by self-satisfied mothers whose sole purpose in life, it seems, is to lord themselves over other women."
And not because the article referred to Mumsnet members as "monsters" and a "cliquey, elitist bunch of witches".
It wasn't even because the writer suggested "behind closed doors" Mumsnet members are probably all "popping Prozac and deeply resenting the loss of identity and lack of short-term gratification that motherhood brings."
No, it was because Sibary appeared to suggest the level of bullying on Mumsnet may make members commit suicide:
"There's been much in the news recently about... a concerning social network site... that has been blamed for the tragic suicides of several teenagers. Well, welcome to the adult version - Mumsnet."
That has resulted in the following clarification being published by the Mail this week:
"The article may ...have suggested that bullying behaviour by [Mumsnet] users could encourage suicide. We are happy to clarify that no suicides have ever been linked to Mumsnet and that its members offer valuable support to those in distress or suffering mental illness."
You can bet the Mail probably wasn't really that happy about having to publish a clarification.
The story of a BBC Panorama team posing as members of an LSE student trip to film undercover in North Korea has led to fierce criticism of the BBC.
However, forget for a minute the specifics of the story and just marvel at how anybody managed to get this headline...
...out of this quote, used in the same article, from Ceri Thomas, head of programmes at BBC News:
"I need to be absolutely clear that if we had any suggestion that lives were at risk or anything approaching that - either the BBC team's lives or the lives of the students - then we wouldn't have gone anywhere near this."
It's not exactly "risking students' lives was worth it".
And it's not just the Mail. The Independent also went with the headline "Panorama was worth risking lives for, says BBC chief" despite running an accompanying video alongside the article of Thomas stating quite clearly:
"There is absolutely no evidence that we were risking the lives of these students. Had we had any kind of assessment that said we were putting lives at risk we would have pulled out of the trip."
In case you have missed this story, a storm has been brewing over the weekend after the LSE accused the BBC of endangering students by sending Panorama journalist John Sweeney and a cameraman into the country, posing as members of an LSE student trip. It has been claimed the BBC misled students taking part in the trip. The BBC has denied any suggestion it endangered students or misled the party.
You can catch up on the story here:
The Mirror today has accused the Conservative party of "photo fakery" after finding a picture of some fresh-faced young Conservatives on the Tory's website which the paper claims is actually a group of Australian students:
The Mirror is certainly right that the group isn't really a group of young Conservatives but it seems there's a very good chance they may not be Australian students either, even though The Mirror has found the same picture being used on an Australian student website.
The original version of the picture is in fact just a stock image, called 'Large group of happy people holding a billboard', available on a number of online stock photo galleries, such as Big Stock Photo:
The fuss surrounding 'Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead' has taken a surreal twist in today's Sun. The paper has tracked down two surviving munchkins from The Wizard Of Oz who have added their voices to the outrage.
The Sun reports:
MUNCHKINS from The Wizard Of Oz last night slammed protesters using film song Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead to mock the death of Baroness Thatcher.
Saddened Munchkins said it was monstrous to hijack the song... "Nobody deserves to be treated in such a way. When we were filming the movie no one intended it to be used in this way."
Won't somebody think of the munchkins.
The furore surrounding 'Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead' has almost certainly played a major part in catapulting the song to number one in the download charts.
Newspapers such as the Daily Mail - who made the campaign front page news - have given the song a huge amount of publicity.
Whether or not the song is played on Radio 1's chart show on Sunday now seems of secondary importance to the fact it has already been featured on prime time news bulletins and all over the newspapers for the past two days.
Those who started the Facebook group to champion the campaign to get the song to number one, could hardly have dared to dream of such publicity.
FT.com, 9 April 2013:
"Bitcoin hit another high today, leaving sceptical pundits in its wake as it broke through the $200 level..."
The Guardian, 10 April 2013:
"Bitcoin, the digital currency, lost more than $160 in value on Wednesday, just hours after hitting a record high."
Say what you like about 'internet bubbles' but they always have the decency to bring their own story arc with them.
The BBC has revealed the breakdown of 766 complaints received about its coverage of Margaret Thatcher's death:
Yesterday The Media Blog reported the lengths to which the Daily Mail was going to make it look like the BBC's coverage of Margaret Thatcher's death contained a "disgraceful" left-wing bias (even using an old photo to make it look like newsreader Huw Edwards wore a jazzy pink tie to deliver the news).
Turning to Twitter for comment, the Mail managed to overlook the great many tweets which didn't support the story it was always going to write.
They're right of course. He's wearing a pink stripy tie. But he's also wearing a poppy. And it turns out the picture of Edwards that the Mail has used dates from November 2006 - as this story from the Daily Mail's own website shows:
As Cridland has pointed out, The Daily Mail perhaps felt it couldn't use a picture of Edwards as he was actually dressed to deliver the news of Thatcher's death because he was wearing a rather sombre dark blue tie, which wouldn't have seemed nearly as controversial as a pink stripy tie.
The Daily Mail has now removed the picture from its website.
If yesterday's media coverage of Margaret Thatcher's death, and the public reaction which greeted it, reminded us of anything it's that she was a lady who polarised the country.
In any debate between polar opposites anybody striving for the middle ground will invariably be accused of bias, often by both sides. It's the reason why both sets of football fans at a match are simultaneously capable of believing the referee is against their team. And so it is that the Daily Mail has inevitably accused the BBC of left-wing bias in its coverage of Margaret Thatcher's death.
It should be pointed out the BBC has also been heavily criticised for a pro-Thatcher bias after broadcasting gushing tributes to the controversial Prime Minister and a rather misty-eyed documentary which interviewed a host of her friends and admirers.
You only have to look at the Mail's own coverage and that in The Telegraph to see this is a woman who some people still believe did little wrong. So it's unsurprising then that the BBC daring to mention strikes, poll tax, poverty and mass unemployment - let alone Pinochet and Apartheid - has jarred with those intent on remembering a rose-tinted version of Thatcher's time in office.
The Mail has picked out a few tweets which support its claims of "disgraceful bias". Tweets such as:
"Shameless Marxist BBC, Ken Livingstone. Tony Benn. You name the socialist, they've interviewed them to try and ruin the memory of this great lady."
"Baroness Thatcher a great leader of 20th Century, BBC brings on the haters and emphasises insignificant disturbances. Angry about the bias"
That will presumably be "insignificant disturbances" like the poll tax riots and the miners strike.
While trawling for such blinkered criticism of the BBC it seems the Daily Mail missed a great many more tweets like these...
"The volume of pro-Thatcher reporting across the BBC over the last 36 hours is actually starting to disturb me now. #bias"
"At last! 26 hours of pro-Thatcher propaganda on #BBC and finally Alexis Sayle is first voice of dissent.”
"Do something good...sick of the Chris Patten led pro Thatcher diatribe across the BBC? Then complain..."
"Shame on you, BBC. Revisionist lickspittle cap doffing cowards. Your pro-Thatcher bias is quite disgusting."
"BBC outdoing itself in pro thatcher toadying. For balance they found a soundbite of scargill sounding like hitler."
"We are going to have put up with so much pro-Thatcher nonsense in the media and on the bbc for the next few weeks."
"What's with all the pro-Thatcher propaganda on the BBC?"
Unsurprisingly Margaret Thatcher, who died yesterday, featured on the front of every newspaper today. Also unsurprisingly, there is no concensus on the controversial politician.
The more balanced of the coverage opts to declare, with no risk of contradiction, that Thatcher divided the country. The i's "As divisive in death as she was in life" is probably the most honest and accurate of the front page depictions:
Not all of the papers present this reality, however. The Mail and The Telegraph set the tone of their reverential coverage with the same haloed photo of the former prime minister.
Not content with publishing airbrushed pictures of models, it seems some corners of the media are now attempting to airbrush a woman's whole career.
But such an approach does nobody much credit, especially not those newspapers holding themselves up as the guardians of free speech and openness while whitewashing the career of one of our most controversial prime ministers. You will find some newspapers have completely overlooked Thatcher's relationship with General Pinochet, for example. Others present smiling pictures of Thatcher with Mandela but make little mention of her branding him a terrorist, or her tacit support for Apartheid.
Of course, the likes of The Daily Mail and The Telegraph were always going to fondly remember Thatcher. Throughout the eighties she was the standard bearer for many of the political views they hold sacred and the parts of the country where she did the greatest damage were hardly the Telegraph or the Mail's traditional heartland. The fact is, many of their readers will have been among those who profited at the expense of so many under Thatcher. They won't care about those who got left behind.
But there is taking a narrow, partisan view and there is trying to rewrite history:
Recently The Telegraph wrote of a left wing conspiracy to "force the press to serve defined social and political objectives – at the expense, if necessary, of the right to free expression". Yesterday the paper turned off reader comments on its Thatcher stories because the public's opinions were starkly at odds with its own.
It is not surprising that readers took it upon themselves to attempt to redress the balance of The Telegraph's coverage. And we shouldn't be surprised that in doing so, some will have taken that to extremes.
An element of this criticism could of course be filed under 'right wing paper in right wing, shocker' but even for such a conservative and infamously right wing paper as The Telegraph, there is a wide and capacious line which can be walked between speaking ill of a deceased Tory Prime Minister and being factually accurate as a matter of historical record.
The line-up of commentators it wheeled out lacked any semblance of balance. There was a solitary nod to the left with Telegraph blogger Dan Hodges though all he could muster was 124 words urging Thatcher's critics to "set aside... our political differences and acknowledge...the achievements of the first women [sic] to hold the highest office in our land".
The likes of The Mirror and more so The Guardian have openly conceded that Thatcher divided people and have shown a fairly professional level of respect for views on both sides of this political, social and cultural rift.
Meanwhile it is surely no coincidence that the most clicked article on The Telegraph's website this morning was a piece about how other newspapers covered Thatcher's death. Perhaps even Telegraph readers expect some balance.
While all this was going on, The Sun offered up the most perplexing front page of the day. Perhaps unusually fearful of a backlash, The Sun chose not to try to even tackle the balancing act between the rights and undeniable wrongs of Thatcher's career, instead focussing on where the body was found:
After just two days in the job, The Telegraph has parted company with its latest columnist - disgraced former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie.
The Telegraph announced on Thursday morning that MacKenzie had been hired as a columnist for its website.
There then followed the kind of angry backlash which will follow MacKenzie to his grave and by Friday afternoon it was announced there would be no more columns from MacKenzie.
However, parting company with MacKenzie makes The Telegraph's original decision to hire him no less offensive.
Clearly The Telegraph knew MacKenzie's hiring would cause offence and upset for the families and friends of Hillsborough victims who MacKenzie so remorselessly insulted over many years.
Margaret Aspinall of the Hillsborough Family Support Group told The Liverpool Daily Post:
"It beggars belief they would even consider the man. National newspapers should know the history of Hillsborough and the people involved. I thought they would have more sense."
But clearly The Telegraph was willing to try to cash in on the publicity and controversy that would result from MacKenzie's hiring. Up to a point.
Hopefully other media outlets take note of this very public reminder that MacKenzie is and always will be toxic in the minds of a great many people.
The Daily Mail has been criticised for suggesting the welfare system is to blame for the killing of six children in a Derby housefire for which their father and two other people have now been convicted (see: The Daily Mail: "A vile product of welfare UK").
But while the Daily Mail wore its prejudice openly on today's front page, The Sun it seems was a bit less committed to the cause of using this tragedy to smear the benefits system.
Perhaps having seen the initial backlash against The Mail, The Sun quickly changed the wording of its leader article inside today's paper. Spot the difference between the first and second editions:
Today's Daily Mail front page has met with an angry reaction, no doubt to the delight of those who produced it (right).
To exploit the tragic death of six children in this way - in order to score points against the benefits system and those claiming benefits - is tasteless in the extreme. These horrific events were not a vile product of the welfare state.
But the newspaper making that accusation has certainly become one.
The Daily Mail may predate the "handouts" it likes to berate, but the newspaper we recognise today has undeniably been forged in the fires of social prejudice during the latter half of the twentieth century and the first part of this one.
Without the social divisions it has enforced and the hatred it has stirred between the haves and the have-nots the Daily Mail would be unrecognisable.
While the Mail's website looks set to survive on a diet of bikinis, breasts, bums and reality TV the newspaper relies heavily upon this grudge - and others - that can be worn raw through its knowing incitement.
And as the economic conditions worsen and those social divisions grow wider it seems likely the Mail's invective will only grow fiercer and more spiteful - fiercer and more spiteful even than laying the death of six children at the door of the benefits system and those who support it.