This Onion article...
Resulted in this FARS article...
FARS isn't the only international media outlet to fall for the Onion's well crafted satires.
(Hat tip @Fieldproducer)
This Onion article...
Resulted in this FARS article...
FARS isn't the only international media outlet to fall for the Onion's well crafted satires.
(Hat tip @Fieldproducer)
Controversial former Sun-editor Kelvin Mackenzie this week stirred fresh anger and disbelief when he revealed he wanted an apology from South Yorkshire Police for his treatment following the Hillsborough Disaster.
South Yorkshire Police have responded quickly by saying they have no intention at all of apologising to Mackenzie for the headline he chose to write on the newspaper he edited.
David Crompton, chief constable of South Yorkshire Police issued a statement saying:
"South Yorkshire Police have received a letter from Kelvin MacKenzie's lawyers, which demands the force makes an apology to him.
"We have publicly apologised to the Hillsborough families and the Liverpool fans but we will not apologise to Mr MacKenzie.
"He chose to write his own headline and he should accept responsibility for it."
Quite right too.
Kelvin Mackenzie's latest Hillsborough insult
Kelvin Mackenzie doorstepped
Kelvin Mackenzie's latest apology for an apology
What now for The Sun and its "version of the truth"?
Hillsborough debate told of Sun's "malicious lies"
Mackenzie is seeking an apology over his treatment following the Hillsborough Disaster.
Read that again. Kelvin Mackenzie has told The Spectator he believes he is owed an apology over Hillsborough.
Kelvin Mackenzie was editor of The Sun when the paper infamously ran a front page story claiming Liverpool fans had stolen from dead bodies and attacked the emergency services. It was all lies. Every word of it.
Mackenzie chose to run with the claims, despite the fact other editors had ignored them over concerns about their veracity. What's more Mackenzie personally added the headline: 'THE TRUTH' despite the fact he had no way of knowing if it was. Because it wasn't.
Since that day, Mackenzie's appalling judgement and refusal to issue a sincere apology has made him a hate figure.
Now it seems he is claiming it was all South Yorkshire Police's fault and he wants an apology and compensation from them. South Yorkshire Police were the source of the malicious lies as they scrambled to hide their own guilt. But Mackenzie chose not to further question their claims or their motives and more importantly chose to remove any doubt regarding their horrific lies with his headline.
The Spectator quotes Mackenzie:
"…It took 23 years, two inquiries, one inquest and research into 400,000 documents, many of which were kept secret under the 30-year no-publication rule, to discover there was a vast cover-up by South Yorkshire Police about the disaster. Where does that leave me?"
Where does that leave you Kelvin? It leaves you where you've been for the past 23 years. As the man who chose to repeat the lies without conducting enough checks to ensure they were 'THE TRUTH'. As the man who chose to report clearly controversial claims, which were proven to be lies, as 'THE TRUTH'. As the man who ignored his own reporter's concerns about the story. As the man who refused to issue a meaningful apology, despite the 1990 Taylor Report finding the blame lay with the police. As the man who took back the pitiful apology he did issue, claiming at the time "I wasn't sorry then and I'm not sorry now."
Only when the recent publication of Hillsborough papers revealed beyond a shadow of doubt the full extent of the police cover-up has Mackenzie admitted his headline was wrong.
Incredibly, Mackenzie also appears to have used his platform in The Spectator to accuse Liverpool fans of picking on him unfairly:
"Liverpool fans didn't turn on other media, only the Sun. That has always puzzled me. Was it picked out because the paper had always backed Thatcher, while the city had always been pro-Labour?"
Or was it because The Sun, under the guidance of Mackenzie, printed the worst possible lies about the friends and families of the Hillsborough deceased and decided it fit to position those poisonous lies under a headline claiming they were 'THE TRUTH'. Yes, there were some outlets who also got drawn in by the malicious lies of a police cover up, but none that repeated them with such apparent relish and gusto.
I don't believe Mackenzie deserves an apology but if he really wants one, then I do hope South Yorkshire Police make him wait 23 years. And then tell him 'no'.
An article from The Guardian's David Leigh has made the case for forcing the public to subsidise the newspaper industry through a tax on broadband. You could be forgiven for thinking this modest proposal is a satire on media intransigence and a sense of entitlement but it seems the author may be serious. At the top of the article we are told:
"Proceeds could be distributed...to protect great journalism..."
It is unclear how David Leigh would ensure it only went towards "great journalism" but that's far from the only problem with this plan:
"A small levy on UK broadband providers – no more than £2 a month on each subscriber's bill – could be distributed to news providers... This would solve the financial problems of quality newspapers, whose readers are not disappearing, but simply migrating online."
Surely that is the content providers' dilemma. How is it anybody else's problem? Newspapers have about as much right to stick £2 on our broadband bill as HMV does to ask for a £2 cut from our electricity bill because the iPods and laptops we're charging have taken a chunk out of their business.
This initiative is never going to see the light of day but as such it is all the more surprising The Guardian ran the article. It makes them look like they have run out of all but the most absurd ideas for making money in the face of very real challenges.
Firstly, it's impossible to believe the ISP industry would ever sign up for this. There are lots of reasons why not, from competition issues related to Rupert Murdoch's ownership of newspapers and a major broadband ISP to damaging the marketability of 'free' or very low-cost broadband offers. But the main reason would surely be the precedent it would set. This is a group of businesses which try very hard not to set precedents. If ISPs were to entertain this notion it would open them up to calls from any business who feels the web has made their life tougher: from publishers to pornographers and record producers to film stars.
In fact, movie studios and records labels might expect to jump the queue if ISPs started arranging compensation, because compared to illegal file sharing, news stories being read entirely legimately on the websites they are published on doesn't seem much of an injustice.
The public may also not take kindly to this initiative. Giving £2 per month to subsidise the business interests of Rupert Murdoch, Viscount Rothermere, Richard Desmond and the Barclay brothers is not going to be everybody's idea of fun. And is David Leigh really going to tell the people of Liverpool that after 23 years of boycotting The Sun, they're now required to give a few quid a year to Rupert Murdoch if they want to access their email?
What about those who don't want to read newspapers online? Or those who say they like to remain in control of which newspapers they help fund. That doesn't seem unreasonable.
Importantly, this would also be a blow to digital inclusion. While campaigners work hard to get affordable internet access for all, the media arguing in favour of raising the barrier to entry by £24 per year seems very poorly timed.
Then there are the hundreds of other media outlets who would rightly want to be a part of this scheme. Leigh suggests membership would initially be limited to newspapers but concedes there may be some leeway in the future to reflect the changes which have taken place in the media over the past two decades:
"Other original news providers could subsequently apply to the independent levy board for admission to the scheme, case-by-case. But there would have to be a reasonable size threshold for admission, perhaps set at 100,000 monthly users."
That threshold allows for quite a few popular websites. And all of a sudden £2 per month isn't going to stretch very far. Then what, increase it to £5?
If the problem at present lies with the business model and running costs of newspapers then shovelling more money into the furnace isn't going to fix that. But it does explain why they'd rather it was somebody else's money and somebody else's problem.
There are some who support this notion. Roy Greenslade (also of The Guardian) wrote:
"It's an ingenious thought and it should be given serious consideration. Could this be the magic bullet we've been seeking? I certainly think so..."
A magic bullet? It sounds more like the idea which came after checking down the back of the sofa for coins. Back to the drawing board.
George Entwistle, the new director general of the BBC has spoken this week about the corporation needing 'more women and less bureaucracy'.
He might like to mention this ambition to the production companies behind some of the Beeb's most popular panel shows, because today I found this blog which looks at the extent to which women are under-represented on shows such as Would I Lie To You, Have I Got News For You, Mock The Week and QI.
Below are the results for all people appearing on Mock The Week and QI. You can see the rest here:
In case you missed the news, this week is National Cupcake Week. That's right, apparently the UK has an entire week when we remember all the brave souls who have brought us cupcakes over the years and who fought to defend our right to eat cupcakes.
This whole week has been claimed by British Baker magazine to focus the minds of the British public and media on the cupcake and its role in society.
Over time more and more of these kinds of contrived days have crept into the diary, put there by the subtle and sometimes not so subtle hand of public relations.
Of course, very worthwhile causes have introduced days to raise awareness and provide a news hook for fundraising efforts. But over time, organisations have chanced their arm with a series of ever more self-serving national days in an attempt to get onto the editorial calendars of the media.
Among some of the most enthusiastic people to use this tactic over the years have been the farmers and food producers of the UK. Cue British Cheese Week, British Egg Week, National Chip Week, National Sausage Week, British Pie Week, National Bread Week, British Tomato Week and English Wine Week.
As Guardian journalist Nick Davies noted in his oft-quoted book Flat Earth News:
"...all kinds of groups now use PR to claim named days or weeks as their own. The first seven days of August 2007, for example, had at least forty-eight different PR causes attached to them in the United States, including National Watermelon Day, National Chocolate Chip Day, National Fresh Breath Day, National Icecream Sandwich Day... Having claimed the day, PR can use it as a peg for artificial news."
Media coverage of National Cupcake Week has been low, though what little coverage there has been has certainly taken the bait. The Liverpool Echo wrote: "As we approach National Cupcake Week..." as though it really is 'a thing'.
Establishing such as day is no more difficult than picking a date and sending out a press release. Starting a Facebook campaign or a petition calling for the day to be recognised often serves as a handy pre-story and makes it look like somebody might really care, but it's not essential. There is certainly nobody in the government or the Privy Council weighing up the merits of National Biscuit Day versus National Dried Fruit Awareness Week. There is no quota. Sadly.
As a result, this tactic, as Davies noted as early as 2007, is starting to asphyxiate itself under the sheer weight of national days and weeks. A tactic which once was quirky is now killing itself.
The calendar is now so full of national days, weeks and even months that even reasonably worthwhile causes get lost in the flood of people trying to hijack the news diary in this way. Nobody would claim puppy farms are a good thing, but any value Puppy Farm Awareness Day may ever have had has surely been lost.
The same could be said of Global Handwashing Day. Nobody doubts handwashing is important but does it really warrant a national day? And now it's got one, does anybody really care?
And what about National Pain Awareness Month? Pain is bad, we can probably all agree on that but it's something the vast majority of us are very aware of all year round as occasion dictates.
Then there is the real nonsense: Star Wars Day, World Goth Day and International Talk Like a Pirate Day.
Why are people celebrating talking like a pirate? I don't know, they just arrrrrrrr!
But at least these days are having some fun (with the possible exception of the goths) and are poking fun at the whole nonsense of such contrived days.
Perhaps I'll declare next week 'Read a Blog About The Media Week'.
Kelvin Mackenzie today got a taste of his own noxious medicine when a confrontational Alex Thomson from Channel 4 doorstepped him in a way which may have made the former Sun editor nostalgic for his hateful heyday. Thomson has come in for some criticism on Twitter for his heavy handed tactics but the majority of commenters seem to think such treatment is the least Mackenzie deserves:
Today's Daily Mail has gone big on quotes from the royal family, in order to put the boot in to French gossip mag Closer. It brands the publishing of topless picture of Kate Middleton "GROTESQUE!" and carries a plea not to to turn Kate into "a new Diana":
In a separate article The Daily Mail calls Closer magazine "ghastly".
Some people might think this fierce attack on a breach of privacy is a bit rich coming from the Daily Mail, not least because the paper has become the go-to destination for paparazzi looking to sell up-skirt, down-blouse, bikini-slip photos and long lens snaps of celebs.
The MailOnline's right hand column is a totem of invaded privacy; from its incessant stalking of celebrity children such as Suri Cruise or Harper Beckham to its indefatigable commitment to exposing celebrities daring to go about their daily lives in anything more casual than a ballgown and full make-up.
And then there is the newspaper's persistent invasion of the privacy of the general public, such as grieving families as highlighted during the Leveson Inquiry.
As for trying to turn Kate into "a new Diana"... well, who would do a thing like that:
Kelvin Mackenzie has issued an apology for his role in The Sun's controversial coverage of the Hillsborough disaster.
Of course, Mackenzie has apologised before, only to withdraw his apology years later claiming: "I was not sorry then and I'm not sorry now."
Back in 2006 Mackenzie said he had only apologised in the first place because Rupert Murdoch made him do so.
Now it isn't Murdoch but the weight of overwhelming evidence and public pressure that has forced his latest apology.
"Today I offer my profuse apologies to the people of Liverpool for that headline. I too was totally misled. Twenty three ago I was handed a piece of copy from a reputable news agency in Sheffield in which a senior police officer and a senior local MP were making serious allegations against fans in the stadium. I had absolutely no reason to believe that these authority figures would lie and deceive over such a disaster.
"As the Prime Minister has made clear these allegations were wholly untrue and were part of a concerted plot by police officers to discredit the supporters thereby shifting the blame for the tragedy from themselves.
"It has taken more than two decades, 400,000 documents and a two-year inquiry to discover to my horror that it would have been far more accurate had I written the headline The Lies rather than The Truth. I published in good faith and I am sorry that it was so wrong."
We probably shouldn't be surprised that Mackenzie's apology attempts to blame others, despite it being his choice to publish and his headline.
Other editors and journalists looked at the inflammatory allegations and steered well clear. Mackenzie and his reporter Harry Arnold showed no such restraint.
It has taken 23 years for Mackenzie to acknowledge the story he published was a pack of lies. Based on this apology it now seems unlikely he will ever admit responsibility.
Understandably, one Hillsborough campaigner who lost two daughters in the disaster has branded Mackenzie's apology "too little, too late".
The families of Hillsborough's 96 victims today had it confirmed that the names and reputations of their loved ones were dragged through a mire of false allegations in an attempt to cover up the truth of the tragedy and deflect blame from the police.
In a series of shocking revelations it emerged that 164 police statements were doctored in order to shift blame onto the fans and away from the police.
Delivering the findings to Parliament, David Cameron spoke of "the denigration of the deceased" and the role newspapers played in spreading false allegations in the days following the tragedy.
No paper did so more than The Sun which now faces fresh calls to offer the full and frank apology that has for so long been demanded by Hillsborough campaigners.
"Several newspapers reported false allegations that fans were drunk and violent and stole from the dead. The Sun's report sensationalised these allegations under a banner headline "The Truth." This was clearly wrong and caused huge offence, distress and hurt."
Earlier this week, the journalist who wrote The Sun's controversial story broke his silence on the matter to say he was "aghast" when he saw the headline that editor Kelvin Mackenzie had written on his story.
"A version of the truth"
Speaking to the BBC for a documentary entitled Hillsborough: Searching for the Truth, shown earlier this week, Arnold said:
"On The Sun, Kelvin MacKenzie was the rather controversial editor at the time. He liked to write his own headlines... He wrote the headline 'The Truth'... When I saw the headline 'The Truth' I was aghast, because that wasn't what I'd written.
"So I said to Kelvin MacKenzie, "You can't say that"... "And he said 'Why not?' and I said 'because we don't know that it's the truth. This is a version of 'the truth'."
It has long been known that the headline was the work of a previously unrepetent Kelvin Mackenzie and the stained reputation the former Sun editor must now drag behind him for what remains of his days is well deserved. But the entirely false allegations should never have been on the page.
Arnold claims he was just doing his professional duty. "If an allegation is made it is your duty to report it," he told the BBC.
What's more it is their decision to present those allegations in as shocking a light as possible in order to sell newspapers. We have seen it recently in cases such as the reporting of entirely false allegations against the parents of Madeleine McCann as well as school teacher Christopher Jefferies.
As for the suggestion there can ever be "versions of the truth", that is as ludicrous as it is insulting to all of those wronged by these particularly nasty lies.
The fact is, there are no "versions of the truth" there are lies or the truth. The fact The Sun and Kelvin Mackenzie in particular tried to blur the line between the two over the deaths of 96 innocent football fans and contributed to a 23 year cover up remains the most indelible stain on that newspaper's reputation.
Tomorrow The Sun has the opportunity to finally write The Truth about Hillsborough but it is impossible to imagine the paper will ever be forgiven by the families and campaigners who have fought so hard for justice for the 96.
Oh Nokia, what have you done? If you're going to release a video claiming to show how good the camera on your new phone is make sure the people demonstrating it don't cycle past any windows which clearly show the reflection of a professional cameraman doing the filming out of a van on a video camera. Major hat tip to The Verge on this one:
Business travellers, commuters, parents and frustrated 3G outcasts rejoice (as long as you've got an Apple device). The BBC has announced the launch of a download service for BBC iPlayer. This means iPad and iPhone users will be able to download shows onto their device and watch them wherever they are, irrespective of 3G or Wi-Fi signal. An Android version is on its way apparently.
In a press release, a BBC spokesman said:
"With mobile downloads for BBC iPlayer, you can now load up your mobile phone or tablet with hours and hours of BBC television programmes, then watch them on the road, on the tube, on a plane, without worrying about having an internet connection or running up a mobile data bill."
Of course, we could all use this as an opportunity to bemoan the fact some people can't go a few hours without watching TV but that's not really in the spirit of innovation or choice is it. And at least by being able to pick from some of the quality output on the iPlayer you can be sure it's good TV.
Or more likely kids TV.
Because data released today by the BBC suggests much on-demand video viewing is being driven by kids. Or perhaps more accurately parents looking to entertain kids. In fact, 34 per cent of iPlayer programmes being watched on tablets is children's programming:
When it comes to smartphones, children's programming is still highest but it's a far less decisive margin. It appears the tablet is king in the nurseries of Britain and on the backseats of sensible family cars.
Also offering some insight into the life of the modern parent is the very telling time of day when TV watched on iPads outstrips any other device: 4am to 8.30am:
Yippee ki yay musiclovers!
Since Sunday the media have been die hard fans of a story claiming Bruce Willis plans to open a can of legal whoopass on Apple.
Willis, we were told, was willing to go the whole nine yards in a legal dispute over whether he can bequeath his iTunes account to his family when he finally goes to the big meteorite in the sky. And everybody from the Sunday Times to The Telegraph to the Daily Mail, The Sun and Sky News ran the story. The Guardian even managed to get three separate articles out of it:
But the problem is, it seems the story isn't true.
Armageddon outta here
A rare voice of dissent along the way was the BBC's technology reporter Dave 'last man standing' Lee who wasn't quite ready to don the tight white vest of news and climb the lift-shaft of improbability:
Now it's The Guardian who have conceded this story was almost certainly mere silly season pulp fiction moonlighting as news. In an article headlined "No, Bruce Willis isn't suing Apple over iTunes rights" The Guardian's Charles Arthur wrote:
"On hearing the "news" that Bruce Willis...intended to sue [Apple]... what did the world's news organisations do? Ask Bruce Willis? Ask his agent? Nah. Why bother with that when you can just repeat the story? Much easier just to rewrite, rephrase and repeat. Pretty much everyone seems to have done this. (Yes, yes. The Guardian too.)"
So that's all settled then. Which is handy because I'd run out of Bruce Willis references.