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The Daily Mail is a lousy rag

My US news sources — Fox and Drudge especially — are linking to the Daily Mail more and more, as their default UK news source. At a glance, they have a similar right-of-center populist editorial viewpoint.

At second glance, though, the Mail turns out to be a really shitty newspaper.

Leave aside the way they report upcoming plot-points on popular TV programs as if it were real news. Overlooking the endless celebrity trout-pouts, baby bumps and unflattering shots of famous people caught with no makeup and their eyes half closed. All this is down in the shallow, stupid end of journalism, but it’s not wrong.

Then there are the endless, breathless, ZOMG one-armed drunken lesbian benefit scroungers with knives headlines — which often aren’t supported by the story inside. This gets tiresome. It’s bad journalism, but it’s not really wrong.

But — via my chicken-keepers forum, of all places — comes a link to a story about the Mail engaging in first-degree just making shit up.

It’s a long blog post. Worth a read, if you’re interested. If not, here’s the Cliff’s Notes version:

In 2003, this woman moves to the country with her two kids, is contacted by a Mail freelancer doing a story on people who leave the city looking for the good life. Woman is starting a PR company in a new town, thinks this would be a bit of harmless publicity.

Story comes out, it’s titled Sex & the Country — a reaction to Sex in the City coming back on TV — and it’s a bunch of made-up shit about her dating life, including totally made-up direct quotes. She’s horrified and humiliated. She contacts the other people in the article — same deal for them, but the Mail laughs them off and nobody can afford to sue.

So the original lady, she spends two years in court trying to get an apology out of them. In the end, the judge rules in her favor (meaning she wins the right to carry it forward to a jury trial) and the Mail offers to settle. Which she does.

I realize there’s a lot of this kind of thing goes around in journalism — especially with this fluffy Lifestyle junk that seems to be taking over newspapers — but I’d like to think there’s a leeetle less poison in my information well.

Anyhow. Be careful who you link to. You might get some on you.

February 1, 2011 — 10:19 pm
Comments: 26