According to the Express the EU is coming for our kettles – and may have their sights set on our toasters too.
As the Express seeks to firm up support for a Brexit vote in June, the paper obviously thinks this is the kind of horror story that will get the old folk of Britain running to the polling station screaming "BACK OFF BRUSSELS!".
Of course, the story is largely nonsense and keen-eyed readers may note this isn’t even the first time the Express has claimed the EU was coming for our kettles.
Back in 2014 the Express claimed the EU hot drinks police were on the march and targeting the tea drinkers of Britain, no doubt sending worried readers scuttling into their panic rooms with kettle in hand. Some may still be in there, boiling water, because they can.
However, it is worth noting "our kettles" have survived this threat once before and will do again.The EU may suggest the kettles we buy in the future should be more energy efficient and durable, but such a sensible suggestion is hardly the "assault on our way of life" the Express would like us to believe.
Running the pro-Brexit 'Leave' campaign has always looked like an uphill struggle. In the absence of credible arguments they have had to cobble together a campaign based on old lies, scaremongering and a handful of celebrity endorsements.
It seemed inevitable the pressure would tell and things took a strange twist on Wednesday when the Leave campaign issued a bizarrely-worded threat against ITV. This followed the broadcaster booking Nigel Farage - arguably the most established critic of the EU in British politics - to debate Brexit.
A statement from the Leave campaign, claims this is a secret plot by "The Establishment" (capitalisation their own) to freeze out their champions Boris Johnson and Michael Gove.
"The Establishment …[are] now fixing the debates to shut out the official campaign… ITV has lied to us in private while secretly stitching up a deal with Cameron to stop Boris Johnson or Michael Gove debating the issues properly. ITV has effectively joined the official IN campaign and there will be consequences for its future – the people in No.10 won’t be there for long."
It’s desperate stuff. Putting aside the ridiculous non-specific threat, 'team Boris' suggesting anybody else benefits from an unfair leg-up from the media shows a ludicrous lack of self-awareness. The same goes for their cries of "MEDIA BIAS!" given the open backing the Leave campaign has received from the likes of Rupert Murdoch, the Daily Mail and the Daily Express.
The statement from the Leave campaign also suggested political editor Robert Peston is actually running ITV and is abusing his authority to push a pro-EU agenda on the broadcaster.
Peston dismissed this as "a mad slur".
"We have tried everything we could but sadly we just haven't reached the sales figures we needed to make it work financially," she wrote.
The fact Trinity Mirror’s gamble in launching a print newspaper in 2016 has't paid off won't come as a surprise to many people. But the plug being pulled so quickly, after just 50 editions, does come as a surprise. Any new business venture takes a while to find its feet but clearly an impatient Trinity Mirror hadn’t seen enough in the first two months to convince it The New Day was worth further investment during challenging times for the company.
Ultimately, the paper, which drew unfavourable comparisons to the i and Metro during its short existence and clearly operated on a tight budget, never managed to be as bold or remarkable as the decision to launch it. However, Phillips' note on Facebook explains her clear and admirable belief that it was better to try and fail than not to try at all.
"To have not given this a go was to mean we were content to stand on the pavement and watch the decline of British national newspapers hurtle past us. But we weren't."
In the 'How To Do Social Media Wrong' handbook there must by now be a whole chapter dedicated to why brands shouldn't try to exploit somebody's death, yet 3M's social media team clearly hadn't read it before hitting send on this heavily branded tweet following the death of Prince.
Nor had whoever at Cheerios thought this was a good idea.
Clearly neither brand has learned from the likes of Crocs, so rightly lambasted earlier this year after trying to exploit the death of David Bowie in order to remind people how awful their shoes look.
But there is, which is no doubt why Cheerios subsequently deleted the above tweet.
The safest rule of thumb is surely to assume tragedies such as deaths and natural disasters are off limits as far as "real time marketing opportunities" go. It just seems incredible anybody actually needs to be told that.
The Express has claimed the EU has a "secret plan" to take CONTROL of YOUR pension.
The story, which even the Express admits is based on nothing more substantial than "fear" and "speculation" is clearly designed to scare the aged readership of the Express into voting for Brexit.
It is an EXCLUSIVE, we are told, but then it's pretty easy to write an EXCLUSIVE if you don't need to base it on any facts.
For the past two days, the Daily Mail has been throwing a front page hissy-fit about lawyers preventing them from reporting some celebrity gossip.
Yes, these privacy injunctions can seem a bit of a silly anachronism which sometimes only serve to ensure greater publicity for the thing they were meant to hush up (not least because they Mail is doing a good job of telling people where they can find the details). But even more ridiculous is the Mail's petulant belief that it simply must be allowed to report what is clearly just a bit of celebrity gossip.
It's hard to imagine how this is in the public interest, however interesting the Mail thinks the public would find it.This isn't a principled stand in defence of a free press, they've just thrown a wobbler because someone's taken away their sex story. It's the journalistic equivalent of a child lying on the floor kicking and screaming because a parent confiscated their favourite toy.
The Sun meanwhile which feels similarly angry about the whole thing, has spoken to one third of the aforementioned threesome who feels his basic human right to talk to newspapers about somebody's private life has been infringed.
“We have been threatened with perjury, contempt of court and prison — all for telling the truth about this threesome."
“What about our human rights and freedom of expression?"
He doesn't explain why anybody else actually needs to know about this threesome.
It's taken four months, but IPSO, the newspaper industry funded regulator, has now reached the conclusion that The Sun's significantly misleading story about "1 in 5" British Muslims being IS sympathisers was indeed "significantly misleading".
(See: Sun's dodgy 'Brit Muslim' survey draws backlash, 24 November 2015)
The interpretations The Sun had to apply in order to make its research findings fit such a divisive headline were huge and glaring and IPSO has now noted The Sun "conflated important distinctions... between "sympathy" for [people going to fight in Syria] and "support" for [jihadis]."
The Sun's misrepresentation of the research drew such criticism last November that Survation, the company which conducted the research, was quick to distance itself from the paper's conclusions.
(See: Survation distances itself from The Sun, 24 November 2015)
IPSO's decision states:
"Taken in its entirety, the coverage presented as a fact that the poll showed that 1 in 5 British Muslims had sympathy for those who left to join ISIS and for ISIS itself. In fact, neither the question nor the answers which referred to "sympathy" made reference to IS. The newspaper had failed to take appropriate care in its presentation of the poll results, and as a result the coverage was significantly misleading, in breach of Clause 1."
However, what difference IPSO's ruling, against both The Sun and its sister paper The Times - announced around midnight on a bank holiday Good Friday - will really make is less clear. The story's damage was no doubt done last year and will have lingered ever since. Furthermore, The Sun's publication of IPSO's ruling inside the paper has none of the prominence of the front page story itself. IPSO claims its committee "gave careful consideration to requiring a reference to [the decision] to be published on the front page" but in the end decided The Sun could choose where it went, as long as it was no further back in the paper than page five. The Sun opted for a single column on page two.
This was undoubtedly the biggest test so far for IPSO, which is funded by the publications it regulates, and it would be difficult to make a case for it emerging with a great deal of credit. While it no doubt had to be seen to give careful consideration to a story which drew more than 3,000 complaints, it is hard to imagine how this ruling took four months, especially when the facts seemed so plain and the story was so controversial.
The Guardian got a lot of things right with its tributes to footballing legend Johan Cruyff who sadly died on Thursday. It commissioned David Winner, author of Brilliant Orange, the definitive book on Dutch football, and ran an excellent piece by Sid Lowe on Cruyff's Barcelona years. However, its good work has been overshadowed slightly by a prominent error. Unfortunately, the picture it used (right) is actually of Cruyff's team mate, Rob Rensenbrink.
The two men did look fairly similar, however, there were some clear clues it wasn't Cruyff (the most major of which being the fact it was Rensenbrink) as many people were quick to point out on Twitter. Cruyff famously wore the number 14 and a customised Adidas shirt that had just two stripes on the sleeve, rather than the usual three stripes Rensenbrink was clearly sporting.
It seems this error may have stemmed from a wrongly captioned picture from photo library Corbis (below) which the Guardian's picture desk may have taken at its word.
The Daily Star is claiming "EASTER EGGS" have been "BANNED" so as not to offend "non Christians". By which it means it has heard there are some Easter eggs in the shops which don't have the word "Easter" on them (why should they, it's obvious what they are) and it's found a couple of try-hards willing to moan about this supposed "censorship" (one of whom just happens to be promoting his own brand of Easter eggs, of course).
Easter eggs haven't been "banned" and nor has the word 'Easter'.
A very quick look at the chocolate eggs being advertised online and in the shops clearly shows this claim to be a nonsense.
It is just the latest excuse for the Daily Star to indulge in some divisive finger pointing at "political correctness" and "non-Christians" and some free publicity for somebody peddling his own chocolate eggs.
Boris Johnson is doing his bit to push Britain towards the Brexit door and like many in the ‘leave’ camp he seems intent on doing it one silly lie at a time. It’s text book stuff: pick a ridiculous lie about the EU and then keeping repeating it as fact until it sticks.
At his monthly Mayor’s question time on Wednesday morning Johnson told members of the London Assembly there are EU laws banning children under eight from blowing up balloons.
It was the second time in a month he’d mentioned this law. Penning a piece for The Telegraph in February, Johnson wrote:
"Sometimes these EU rules sound simply ludicrous, like the rule that you can’t recycle a teabag, or that children under eight cannot blow up balloons."
The EU addressed the balloon claim back in 2011, when The Telegraph, Daily Mail and Daily Express first reported the supposed ban. The EU made clear back then "balloons made of latex carry a warning aiming to prevent children from choking or suffocating…This warning recommends adult supervision, it does not forbid children under 8 from inflating balloons".
It should also be pointed out Boris's teabag claim isn’t true either. ("Under EU law the UK is fully entitled, but not obliged, to impose stringent standards on the composting of household catering waste... It is also up to member states to ensure they have the treatment facilities in place to enforce their own standards").
These claims are easy to check but that won’t stop politicians and newspapers using them, because it is an approach that works. Repeated enough, a lie, even - or perhaps especially - a ludicrous one, can stick.
You can find a handy list of ‘Euromyths’ here. You may need it in the months ahead.
David Cameron’s PR operation has been criticised for fobbing off local newspapers with an article attributed to the PM that was compiled with an "insert name of county here" level of sincerity and all the humanity of an automated voice menu on a telephone helpline ("To hear why David Cameron loves… Yorkshire… press 1, now").
The same article, with minor edits, was hawked all over the country, making clear in the process that not only had Cameron been nowhere near the copy, but also the extent to which his PR people thought they could get editors to all run any old puff-piece for them for free simply by dangling the PM's name.
From the outset, the editors will have been well aware the article wasn't really written by Cameron. Of course it wasn't. Newspapers are familiar with ghost-written columns and contributions. But there still needs to be something in it for the paper and its readers. There needs to be a quality to the article, or an exclusivity that lifts it at least notionally above editorially worthless free-advertising.
The Yorkshire Post was so insulted it chose not only to decline the article but also to publicise the reasons why, chief among them being the fact Cameron's PR people continue to ignore serious questions from the paper while still expecting them to jump at the chance of some lazy PR filler.
From Sky News to The Telegraph, via The Mirror, The Metro, The Sun and the Evening Standard, UK media outlets were falling over themselves on Friday to report the find of a 'giant rat' in East London.
"Rat 'as big as a four-year-old boy' found in London", reported ITV News, where clearly nobody has ever met - or even been - a four-year-old boy.
The story was accompanied by the now obligatory 'forced perspective' photo that accompanies all such 'giant rat' articles (somebody holds the rat away from their body and close to the camera ideally at the end of a long stick to exaggerate its size as much as possible).
Friday lunchtime must have been kind to a few news desks because there was certainly no shortage of outlets repeating claims the rat weighed "25lb" and was "four-feet long". For the whole of Friday afternoon is was as if the media had turned into a pub full of boozed-up anglers whose sense of scale had been forever warped by tall tales of 'the one that got away'.
Few of the outlets that ran the story questioned the obvious forced perspective of the photo or thought it odd the gas engineer and electrician who found the rat had apparently weighed it.
"James, I’ve found a rat."
"Wait there Tony, I’ll get the scales."
Similarly nobody questioned the not-unimpressive physical feat of somebody posing for a photo while holding a "25lb" weight (11.3Kg), one-handed at the end of a stick (try picking up a 25lb dumbbell with a litter picker and holding it at arms length, see how you get on).
After the story had been all over the media on Friday, all that was left was for the Daily Star (the home of giant rat stories) to run it on Saturday's front page and claim it as an "EXCLUSIVE":
Hackney Council has been doing its bit to dispel 'giant rat' panic by pointing out how deceptive forced perspective photos can be.
Other Twitter users were also quick to get in on the fun.
Only one cat can deal with London's giant rats pic.twitter.com/xaIURl9dJs— tom jamieson (@jamiesont) March 11, 2016
And the apparent confusion over perspective put many in mind of this classic Father Ted scene.