Sunday, 15 March 2009

The Daily Express finds a new low for tabloid journalism

The Daily Express took the decision today to pull from its web edition an article accusing survivors of the 1996 Dunblane massacre of disrespecting the dead by publishing on social networking sites depicting them drinking. The news story, which can still be viewed by looking at the Google cache, is a prime example of all that is morally repugnant in some elements of British journalism. Unless we are to believe that these profiles were stumbled upon by chance or else were reported by some outraged member of the public, then it seems pretty clear that, in an attempt to bring sensationalism to the anniversary of one of the most tragic chapters in modern Scottish history by actively seeking out the survivors of the massacre and making nasty and malicious inferrals about them.

There are a number of elements to the story that make it nothing short of morally repugnant. It is implicit in the article that the children should have been grateful for the fact that they were protected from the press in the aftermath of the school shooting. From this, given that the article itself concedes that the individuals concerned are all over 18, there is the ridiculous inferral that they should somehow be held to higher standards of public life. The paper has taken victims of the Dunblane shooting, and used them as examples of the youth culture that has long provided a source for sensationalist journalists in the UK.

The article appears to taunt one teenager who is single despite having a list of good chat-up lines featured on his profile. "Among the blogs on his site is a list of the 23 best chat-up lines – but he is still single."

The article names those injured in the shooting and attempts to vilify them by listing all of what to the Daily Express constitutes social faux pas such as using profanities on their profiles, using colloquial language ("canny stop drivin in the silver hing", making "lewd" gestures in photographs and writing of drinking.

The Express goes further by complaining that they boast of discovering sex, despite the fact that these victims are now 18.

This article alledges that the behaviour of these survivors is abhorrent, and attempts to use it as a picture of a degraded culture, but instead it has accomplished something different. This article exposes the ugliest side of tabloid reporting, an amoral and sensationalist element devoid of the values of truth and integrity which it once stood for. If there is any traces of those values left in the media, then the editor (because it was most likely an editorial decision to ask a journalist to seek out the survivors) and any other editor involved in the process will, along with the journalist who penned the article, resign, or else be fired for conduct unbecoming of members of the fourth estate.



    Someone made this about the journalist.