Media Monday and journalistic principles, part two
SInce the Sunday Sun is published by Trinity Mirror, here’s a blog post I published elsewhere that illustrates that yesterday’s story in the Sunday Sun isn’t a one off.
The Ritz Hotel’s restaurant is open to anyone, so long as you can afford the prices.
Privacy law seems to work the same way.
The wealthy, apparently, can buy super injunctions that allow them to attempt to avoid their pecadilloes being exposed in public. According to John Hemmings MP, one of those people is Ryan Giggs. After his own run ins with the press you might expect Mr Hemmings to have more sympathy, but apparently not.
Here’s how privacy law works for poor people. Read this story; we recommend a sick bag in case you’re overcome by the nauseating hypocrisy of the alleged journalist responsible for it. Alleged journalist? We’ll list some of the alleged scribe’s errors and idiocies below for those who like to see an incompetent half wit properly Fisked.
There should also be a special prize for the astonishingly stupid Cllr Clive Morgan, a man who appears to believe it is impossible to be decent and hardworking while having a sex life different to his. With idiots like him in its ranks it’s easy to understand why the Labour Party is seen by many people as remote, elderly and out of touch. As a councillor on a local authority that was rated as barely adequate by the Audit Commission under the Comprehensive Area Assessment (the league tables for councils, in which Cannock Chase was firmly in the bottom half) you’d think he had more important things to do, but apparently not. If this is how Cllr Morgan earns his £5300 a year for turning up and doing what the party whips tell him it’s hardly surprising local councillors are seen as irrelevant by most people, resulting in low turnout at local elections.
But to return to the privacy law issue we started with. Where is the public interest in publishing this story? What public good will derive from a hard-working law abiding couple being sacked from their job? None. It’s a story built on prurience, and a story from which ordinary people have no defence.
Anyway, here’s a guide to the story.
Para 1 – scene setting – just the usual stuff, written as if from a textbook of bad journalism.
Para 2 – here we go guys – “But by night the Grade II listed boozer, just a stone’s throw from two primary schools,”
OK Adam, first of all, were you never taught not to start a sentence with ‘but’? What exactly is the relevance of the two primary schools? Who does throw stones at primary schools? Could it be you’re trying to whip up some prejudice here by linking events that take place when the schools are closed, (‘at night’) to a risk to children? Incidentally, this helpful Google Map shows that a stone thrown from the Crystal Fountain, to reach St Marys Primary School, would have to clear 14 houses and cross two streets. If you can throw a stone that far Mr Aspinall you should be in the Olympics, which might suit you better than journalism.
Para 3 – ‘secret events’ – how are they secret if they’re advertised and reviewed on swingers websites?
Para 4 – ‘the brewery’ – You tell us in para 3 Mr Aspinall that the pub is owned by Enterprise Inns – they are not a brewery. They’re a property company, the result of the same economic dogma in the 1990s that gave us the most expensive rail system in Europe. They’re doing so well that 82% of their landlords need a discount on the cost of the beer Enterprise buys in from breweries and sell on to them. I know these seem like mere details to you Adam, but you can see why I think you’re not fit to be a journalist. These facts might give you an idea as to why landlords diversify into special events as well Adam.
Para 5 – interesting the way you paraphrase here, and the way you seek to make mountains out of molehills. If you think a no knickers policy is a little risque, I hope you avoid Carnage events if they ever come to a town near you.
Para 6 – enter Cllr Morgan with his wonderful impersonation of Al Murray as the pub landlord. (Here’s a clue Cllr Morgan – Murray does satire, not political commentary.) Did you not think to ask Cllr Morgan if maybe he’s fallen out with the landlords? He does, after all, live just round the corner – barely a stone’s throw away in Adam Aspinall language. How is it that a hard-working well informed local councillor with his ear to the ground had to find out about all this from his local paper? Unless of course he’s not hard-working and not well informed, which would be a different story entirely.
Oh, and sexy shenanigans? That’s just bad writing Adam. Seriously bad writing.
Para 9 – “The Sunday Mercury discovered the couple advertising their sex ‘socials’ on seedy swinging websites.” Now, here’s where the public interest issue gets interesting. If Mindless Morgan, the local councillor, had kicked up a stink about the events at his local pub, you’d have a public interest story. The Mercury though, says it discovered the couple advertising their events on seedy websites. So there was no public interest until the Mercury created it by going looking for a story on a swingers website. Assuming of course that that is what happened, and that Adam Aspinall wasn’t actually looking for some wank fodder when he discovered a story that could give him a front page splash rather than a splash on a tissue.
Once you’ve got that image out of your head I’ll repeat that point again. According to the Mercury there was no public interest in the story until they created it, sexing the story up along the way by dragging kids and schools into the second paragraph via a piece of metaphorical stone throwing that would get Adam Aspinall into the all Palestine ‘lobbing a rock at the Israeli tanks’ elite squad.
Paras 10-13 are mere filler, although they do demonstrate that the people attending the parties are satisfied customers.
Page 2 continues in the same vein. People appear to have liked the parties at the Crystal Fountain. Great news.
Now comes the wonderful moment every journo likes to write.
Paragraph 18 – our journalist goes undercover. Now, you might wonder, why exactly does the journo need to go undercover? He’s got loads of quotes from websites, along with the pic he’s lifted to get some tits on the first page, so why does he need to lie to the pub landlord to bolster his story?
Answer? He doesn’t. It’s about his ego and sexing up the story, not the facts. The story doesn’t stand up otherwise. So we get a few quotes courtesy of the journo’s entirely reliable memory. There’s also a wonderful, and startlingly irrelevant reference to the local Asda just down the road. Proximity to a place of worship used to be a mainstay of these sorts of stories – presumably at the Sunday Mercury the new god is Walmart.
The rest of the story, or the missing parts of the story, sit in the last three paragraphs.
Enterprise Inns say they had a complaint from a member of the public, but the Mercury say they got the story from a swingers website they happened to be perusing. We think it’s more likely that Enterprise got the story when Adam Aspinall phoned up for a quote and that, besides Mindless Morgan, the local councillor, no-one else could be found to give a quote to shore up a feeble story badly told. The story closes, appropriately, with a mind-blowing piece of logic from Cllr Morgan that it’s OK to do these things behind closed doors in a swingers club, but not behind closed doors in a family pub. Well done Cllr Morgan, it’s thinking like that that makes you worth £5000 a year.