Archive for the ‘Daily Express’ tag

Why add a 'suicide' clause if it's ignored?

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Defending the press’ coverage of the suicides in South Wales, Bob Satchwell told the Today Programme this morning that there had, as yet, been no complaints.

Good grief. What an astonishing indictment of the current methods of newspaper self-regulation. Only eighteen months ago the newspapers were congratulating themselves on having added a new clause to their code of conduct:

“5(ii) When reporting suicide, care should be taken to avoid excessive detail about the method used.”

This followed a lengthy campaign, by the Samaritans and others, which showed that there was a demonstrable connection between the lurid coverage of suicides and subsequent ‘copycat’ suicides.

The Express’ coverage of Bridgend must surely classify as lurid. Under the title “Another Girl Hangs herself in Death Town” the paper describes the death of Angie Fuller, uses material from her Facebook profile, and compares her death to those of others in south Wales.

The paper quotes one of the other victims mother, describing her son’s death; “He was hanging from the frame of a wardrobe we were getting fitted. He’d used a dressing gown cord. I had to cut him down”. Does this count as ‘care… taken to avoid excessive detail’?

But the Press Complaints Commission won’t take any action unless there is a complaint. Yet even if a relative of another of the victims wanted to complain about the Express’ coverage, there is no guarantee the complaint would be accepted. The Press Complaints Commission clearly states that it does not take ‘third party complaints’. In other words you have to be referred to directly in the article. As a relative of another victim you almost certainly count as a ‘third party complainant’.

What is the point of the additional clause in the code of conduct if it is both ignored and unenforceable?

Written by Martin Moore

February 7th, 2008 at 4:09 pm

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Dog whistle journalism

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As the Clintons are accused of playing the race card – and losing – in South Carolina, so the Daily Express once again plays the race card – with yet more virulence – on its front page today.

‘Migrants send our crime rate soaring’ is emblazoned across the front of the paper. This is topped by a non-news story about Madeleine McCann (‘Amazing lookalike: “I did not kidnap and kill her”‘), and tailed by ‘outrage’ about the news that – according to the Express – Maxine Carr is expecting a baby. Together these must represent a new low in the paper’s desperate scramble for dog whistle populism.

The main story picks up on a leaked letter from the Chief Constable of Kent, Mike Fuller, who is asking the government for more money. When the letter was leaked, Fuller was presumably not unconscious of the fact that, by using phrases like ‘migration surges’, his request for more money should earn a certain amount of publicity.

Yet given Fuller focused on population increase rather than migrants per se, he might have been slightly surprised by the rampantly xenophobic headlines the letter elicited. Three newspapers ran with the story: the Sunday Times (‘Police chief: “migrant tide adds to crime”‘), the Daily Mail (‘Top black officer warns of “migrant crime surge”‘) and the Daily Express.

The Sunday Times story was reported by Jonathan Oliver – recently headhunted from the Mail after his David Abrahams scoop at the end of last year. Nick Fagge meanwhile, the author of today’s Expess piece, had to take time out from reporting on the McCann’s – having written over 20 articles about the McCanns since the beginning of November (including ‘Is Madeleine a child slave in Morocco?’, and ‘Maddy: mum faces ten years in jail’).

The Express story itself is based entirely on Mike Fuller’s statistics, a reaction from the Shadow Immigration Minister Damian Green, and a quote from the anti-immigration spokesman Sir Andrew Green. In other words it is almost entirely lacking any actual journalism. It has been spread across the paper simply to appeal to public fears of migration and latent xenophobia.

When Roy Greenslade wrote critically about the Sunday Express’ reporting on the McCann’s a couple of weeks ago, one commenter asked him why he was wasting his time on a paper no-one read. But that’s the problem, over 700,000 people are still buying the Daily Express, and over 650,000 buying the Sunday Express, according to the latest ABCs.

Sales are dropping, but the further the drop, the more aggressive and downright nasty the paper becomes. One can only hope that, as some point, they go into freefall.

Written by Martin Moore

January 28th, 2008 at 5:19 pm

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Depressed by the Express

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Can optimism sell newspapers? Back in the 1930s Lord Beaverbrook thought so and made sure his most popular paper, the Daily Express, always looked at things ‘from the sunny side of the street’. So much so that it was accused (fairly) of misleading the public by downplaying bad news in the build-up to the Second World War.
Still, it seemed to work. At the end of the war the Express was the biggest selling newspaper in the world, with a circulation of almost four million.
Then we have today’s Express, owned by Richard Desmond, with a circulation down to about 750,000. Are the depressing headlines one reason why? A few less-than uplifting front pages from the last six weeks include:
On housing: ‘Home loans set to soar again’ (15-2-07), ‘Scrap new tax on house sales’ (22-2-07), ‘Millions in home tax trap’ (5-3-07), ‘Cost of home loans to soar’ (21-3-07).
On tax: ‘Tax spies to invade your life’ (20-2-07), ‘Blair’s road tax lies exposed’ (25-2-07), ‘Brown’s tax plan to bleed you dry’ (8-3-07), ‘Tax cut: it’s just a big con’ (22-3-07).
Then of course there’s the Diana conspiracy (‘Diana: vital evidence was kept secret’, 20-3-07), interest rates ( ‘Interest rates to go up and up again’ 28-3-07), anti-Islamic polemics (‘Muslims tell us how to run our schools’ 21-2-07) and the weather (‘Wet Wet Britain’ 28-2-07, ‘Stand by for more floods’ 7-3-07).
Is life really that bad? Still, there was one reason to be cheerful, on 19th February the paper splashed with ‘Chocolate can save your life’ (perhaps the regular editorial team were out that night).

Written by Martin Moore

March 28th, 2007 at 3:47 pm

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