Licking the Salt from the Biscuit of Life - Oh dear

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October 18th, 2009

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01:13 pm - Oh dear
I just made a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission, something I never saw myself doing, mostly from sheer laziness.

It was the Daily Mail, of course. Of course, the Mail. An article of such hateful, ridiculous... no, I don't have the words...

What she did was insinuate that the guy from Boyzone had died a "strange and lonely death" as a result of his "dark appetites", his "private vice" - in short, he had died of being gay.

This seriously reeks. As the coroner found, he died of natural causes of a heart condition, unexpectedly and sadly for his family, while on holiday at the time with his husband.

Charlie Brooker said it better than me. Read his very welcome rebuttal article here

The original here, if you can stomach it.
(You'll need these funnies after, to get the taste out)
Comment on AfterElton

Here's what I put in my form:

complain here

Notice they have a separate link for the Jan Moir article now? :)

link to the original article here

My argument went like this:

This article breached sections 1, 5 and 12 of the code of practice.

1. i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information,

It stated that Stephen Gately's death was not natural, when this had been established by a coroner.

iii) The Press, whilst free to be partisan, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.

It drew comparisons between two deaths (Stephen Gately and Kevin McGee), purely because the people involved were gay, even though there was no other connection between them. This was designed to mislead.

5. i) In cases involving personal grief or shock, enquiries and approaches must be made with sympathy and discretion and publication handled sensitively.

This was not respected. Instead, wild accusations were flung with few facts to back them up - for instance, about the nature of Stephen Gately's private relationship with his partner.

12. i) The press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual's race, colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability.

ii) Details of an individual's race, colour, religion, sexual orientation, physical or mental illness or disability must be avoided unless genuinely relevant to the story.

This clause was badly breached. The article strongly implied that Stephen Gately died because of lifestyle factors relating to his sexuality, even though the official coroner found he had died of natural causes.

If an article like this were allowed to stand, it would have wide implications in the future in the matter of fair reporting in the media.

Therefore it is of general public concern and not just to the immediate family.

(Indulge your wild theories here)


[User Picture]
Date:October 22nd, 2009 07:33 am (UTC)
I saw. It's bad.
What strikes me is that it's not new, though. The Daily Mail and several other newspapers do it all the time. Openly. And no one says a word. Trust me, I've been trying to keep up with some ugly parts of the British media in the past eight months or so.
[User Picture]
Date:November 7th, 2009 08:54 am (UTC)

Apparently over 22 thousand people complained. Go us! We made a movement! We got the politicians talking about it on TV.

The press can be really bad here, even though I think the UK is not bad for this stuff compared to most countries. Which is depressing if you think too long about it.

The same journalists who are homophobes are ususally also virulently misogynist, even the women journalists - especially the women - which never ceases to amaze me.

I've been keeping up with British politics more since I met you. All your fault! Before, I refused to take an interest on principle. 20 years of civil war does make you cynical.

Blair is campaigning now for EU President. A highly unpopular move here. Oh, so many jokes about that. But not as many as about Gordon Brown.

I still admire him, but it's like I can't say it in public now!

By the way, if you want to listen to a current affairs comedy that's a lot less poisonous than 'Have I Got News For You' (the one you called 'nasties', if I remember), I suggest the News Quiz, Radio 4. It's run by a Danish lesbian (how apt for a UK topical comedy, hah) and is generally brilliant. I never miss an episode and often download the podcasts:

Any episode with either Jeremy Hardy or Sue Perkins in it is usually gold.
[User Picture]
Date:December 17th, 2009 06:19 pm (UTC)
some news places say his partner is lodging a formal complaint. I wish him all the luck, but I don't really see the face of the press and media change at all.

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