"The ebola crisis hit the Commonwealth Games," reports Friday's Mirror beneath a headline declaring "Commonwealth Games Ebola Terror". Next to the headline is a picture of a body being carried on a stretcher.
"The ebola crisis hit the Commonwealth Games," reports Friday's Mirror beneath a headline declaring "Commonwealth Games Ebola Terror". Next to the headline is a picture of a body being carried on a stretcher.
The Daily Mail did a good job on Tuesday of pretending it was angry about all the hard-done-by white, middle-aged men being "culled" in David Cameron's reshuffle. But really it was already building itself up to get on with the serious business of objectifying the women MPs taking up new roles in the Cabinet.
On the front of Wednesday's paper the Mail is doing the journalistic equivalent of winding down the van window and shouting "Oi! Oi! darlin'...show us your legs!" at a woman trying to go about her business. Inside, a photo story critiques each of the female MPs' outfits and physical appearance in a way no paper would ever consider doing for male MPs.
When male MPs walk down Downing Street it's referred to not unreasonably as Downing Street. But when female MPs appear on Downing Street it is suddenly transformed by the Mail into a "catwalk" which they "sashay" down, rather than simply walking. And if there's more than one female MP they become locked in a "catwalk battle" lest we forget they are only there to be judged on their appearance and compared to one another.
Update: One of the Daily Mail's own staff has broken ranks to criticise the paper's "unspeakably awful and demeaning" coverage of women. Outgoing business correspondent Becky Barrow took to Twitter to post the following message:
Daily Mail: 'Women, know your place'
As the World Cup Final went into extra time on Sunday night, newspaper editors were poised, waiting to put their papers to bed. Then Mario Götze scored, they all wrote the same headline and went to the pub.
At least nobody went with 'History Boys'.
Updated: A number of media outlets and social media users around the world have been fooled by a spoof video which appeared to suggest North Korean state TV was claiming the country's football team had made it to the World Cup final where they will play Portugal.
The Metro, who have since corrected their original story, reported:
"North Korea's state controlled media is brazenly telling the country's football fans that the national team have reached the World Cup final in Brazil... In a report posted on YouTube, the media have been caught broadcasting that North Korea are on course to win the biggest prize in football, despite not actually qualifying for the World Cup."
Unfortunately, despite the normally watertight argument that if something has appeared on YouTube it must be true, the story is a hoax.
According to a report from ITN, North Korean football fans are not only aware that their team was not in the World Cup they are also able to watch the tournament on TV. Although other reports suggest North Koreans may be seeing some games with a delay of around 24 hours there is no suggestion the country's football fans are being kept in the dark about which teams have contested the tournament.
A deal was announced in 2010 by the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union which allows North Korea to broadcast World Cup matches.
This is the video which is supposed to be from North Korea that has got people confused:
The Metro was among a number of media outlets who had to hastily rewrite their stories:
One of the stranger stories this week saw the world's media obsessing on the watch worn by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of Isis. Never mind the brutality and the killing the media all wanted to discuss the comparatively irrelevant detail of his "bling".
The Telegraph reported "the watch bore an obvious resemblance to models designed by a number of famous watchmakers, including the £3,490 Omega seamaster". The Daily Mail hedged its bets claiming it was either a Rolex, a Sekonda or an Omega, while the Huffington Post reported it was indeed an Omega Seamaster, the same watch as the one worn by James Bond in recent films apparently.
However, according to CNN the watch may actually have been "a relatively more modest $560 "Islamic watch" from Al-Fajr... the preferred choice of "true Muslims"."
George Clooney has written a letter to USA Today criticising what he calls "a completely fabricated story" in the Daily Mail about his mother-in-law to be and her alleged opposition to him marrying her daughter.
"It says Amal's mother has been telling "half of Beirut" that she's against the wedding. It says they joke about traditions in the Druze religion that end up with the death of the bride. Let me repeat that: the death of the bride.
"The irresponsibility, in this day and age, to exploit religious differences where none exist, is at the very least negligent and more appropriately dangerous.
"The Daily Mail, more than any other organization that calls itself news, has proved time and time again that facts make no difference in the articles they make up. And when they put my family and my friends in harm's way, they cross far beyond just a laughable tabloid and into the arena of inciting violence."
You can read Clooney's full letter here.
The Media Blog is five years old today. Below are the top 10 most-read posts from the past five years:
1. Newsnight strips "porn user" of her PhD... now you see it, now you don't. You admit on television to watching porn and the next thing you know you've been stripped of your hard-earned qualifications.
2. The Daily Mail turns the creepiness up a notch... the Daily Mail's distasteful coverage of young girls has been covered a number of times over the past five years but this post continues to get a steady stream of readers a year-and-a-half after it was published.
3. They didn't...?... Back in May 2012, the Liverpool Echo served up one of the most unfortunate page layouts of the past five years.
4. BBC calls its own Facebook fans "saddos"... As the BBC readied its website for the 2012 Olympics some holding text insulted its Facebook fans.
5. Daybreak viewers: Confused by time... Daybreak may have been pulled from the TV schedule but its former viewers continue to be confused by Good Morning Britain on ITV+1.
6. The Mail claims victory in moral crusade... the Daily Mail's campaign to clean up the internet gets more ironic but the week.
8. Ooops! The Daily Mail falls victim to spoof Steve Jobs iPhone recall Tweet... There have been plenty of cases of people being taken in by fake Twitter accounts over the past five years but this was one of the most notable examples.
9. The Daily Mail limps on with 'Big Fat' campaign... the Mail took offence at some jokes on Channel 4 and tried to whip up some outrage. Unfortunately even the paper's own readers didn't seem that bothered.
10. The Express misjudges the mood on Twitter... a promoted tweet sparked a remarkable backlash and saw Twitter users rallying to fritter away the Express's budget.
A new member on an online muslim community message board this week has posted the below message. It was the new member's first message:
"salam my sisters and brothers we should get out of this evil country and pledge our allegiance to the muslim sharia law and get out of evil west. who wants to join me so we can wage war and jihad against the corrupt west."
So who was this would-be jihadist? Members of the online community were quick to check out the poster's IP address to see if it gave any clues. And it seems the IP address used by the member to register points to the offices of the Daily Mail group, which it should be noted are home to a number of different UK newspapers and their websites.
That may mean a journalist working from those offices has tired of their job and has decided to wage war on the west instead, or it may mean they are trolling muslim messageboards trying to scare up some stories.
The moderators of the forum, called Ummah.com, have posted the following statement, saying "there may be possible explanations as to why this has happened, IP addresses can be spoofed or faked... someone may have compromised their network, or it may even have been someone within the network posting this trying to entrap us."
In the statement Ummah.com mentions a confirmed case of 'entrapment' from 2009 when The Sun was made to apologise by the PCC after running a scare story based on fake comments from a phoney 'extremist' posting comments on Ummah.com.
A headline from the London Evening Standard today claims 'Garden Bridge across River Thames 'will bring eight million tourists a year to London''.
To put that into perspective the Evening Standard is claiming this proposed new bridge will result in a 50 per cent increase in tourists visiting London each year. To see a bridge.
The Evening Standard of course is known as something of a cheerleader for London Mayor Boris Johnson and it has certainly done its best to make the "exquisite" Garden Bridge, which Boris is both championing and part-funding, sound like a great investment. But if you read on it becomes clear the headline is wildly misleading.
Graham King, Westminster Council's head of strategic planning, told a scrutiny committee meeting: "Footfall will be similar to the flow of the Hungerford and Golden Jubilee Bridges of nearly eight million people a year."
So eight million people per year, including many London residents who already live in the capital and tourists who would be visiting anyway, may use the bridge to cross the river. There is no mention of the bridge bringing a single tourist to London, let alone eight million.
In recent weeks the Daily Star has become a little obsessed with tall tales of invincible giant rats - some the size of cows - who are threatening to kill us all. The paper has been dividing its time between stories about humungo-rodents and plugs for Big Brother. So it is a happy coincidence that today the Star reports some giant "killer" rats have turned up at the set of Big Brother in Elstree to give the show some much-needed publicity.
However, it's probably too early to panic just yet. Elstree Studios took to Twitter to suggest the story should be taken with "a large pinch of salt" while others who work at the famous studios have been in touch to say they have neither seen nor heard any report of rats - giant or otherwise - at Elstree.
The BBC's Question Time may not have been on this week due to the football but there have still been plenty of people making ill-informed comments about open borders, a deluge of foreigners and the dangers of uncontrolled immigration.
Journalists, broadcasters and pundits have been among the great many people rushing to blame England's pitiful performance in the World Cup on foreigners 'coming over here, kicking our footballs'. It's a convenient scapegoat for those whose own lazy route-one tactic is to blame foreigners for anything that requires a more complex answer.
It is a natural extension of the nasty media-fuelled myth, fed upon by the likes of UKIP, that all immigration is bad - that if an immigrant is benefitting from being here then the country must somehow be suffering. Like all nasty myths about immigration, it's simply not true and almost certainly damaging.
If England's performances in recent years have shown us anything (beyond the obvious fact we've just not been good enough) it's surely not that we need more English players exposed to English football but rather we need more English players exposed to overseas football.
We need English clubs to become exporters as well as importers of talent. That would do far more to encourage greater investment in a production line of English talent than just arbitrarily cracking down on the number of foreign players.
To suggest stopping foreigners playing football in England would just make English people better at football is like suggesting a cap on Polish builders would make us all better at DIY.
Between 1974 and 1994, during which period overseas signings were very thin on the ground at English clubs, England failed to qualify for three World Cups. Since 1994 we have qualified for four out of four but the most successful international teams during this period have typically been very international in terms of where they play their club football and they have been countries who are exporters of talent in significant numbers. USA 94 was won by a Brazil team whose starting eleven included eight players who played their club football overseas. France 98 was won by the hosts whose starting eleven included ten players who played their club football overseas. In Japan in 2002 the final was won by Brazil whose starting eleven included nine players who played their club football overseas.
The pattern appears to fall down slightly at Germany 2006 and South Africa 2010 when Italy's starting eleven in the final were all domestic-based and Spain fielded just two overseas-based players, though any football fan will tell you both Italy and Spain were still noted exporters of footballing talent in the run up to winning those trophies. It should also be noted the other finallists at those tournaments, France (2006) and the Netherlands (2010) started with seven and six overseas-based players respectively and are both significant exporters as well as importers of footballing talent.
To put all these numbers into some perspective, over the last four World Cups, England have only included two overseas-based players in total and they were both at the same tournament; David Beckham (Real Madrid) and Owen Hargreaves (Bayern Munich) in 2006. Throughout this period you could pretty much count on the fingers of one hand the transfers of note from the English top flight to overseas leagues.
The only England squad member at the current World Cup who doesn't play in his domestic league is third choice goalie Fraser Forster. And even then he has still only made it as far as Scotland. At the current World Cup only Russia have a less 'international' international team. The likes of Argentina (20 out of 23 squad players plying their trade overseas), Brazil (19), Chile (19), France (15), the Netherlands (13), Portugal (16), Uruguay (22), Belgium (20) and Germany (7) leave England looking like the rather backwards, insular nation some would like us to be.
Let's not allow those with an anti-immigration agenda to hijack the nation's desire for sporting success when the very isolationism they favour may already be damaging our chances.
It appears Ed Miliband is intent on stumbling from one PR disaster to the next, as if he is actually trying to torpedo Labour's chances at the 2015 general election.
His latest PR disaster was the inexplicable decision to advertise The Sun by posing with a promotional copy of the newspaper published to celebrate the start of the World Cup and all things English. Somehow Miliband failed to anticipate the inevitable angry reaction to his endorsement in the Labour heartlands of the North-West, particularly Liverpool where the paper has been widely boycotted for a quarter of a century over the lies it printed about Hillsborough.
Other Labour supporters were just shocked and disappointed to see Miliband promoting a right-wing tabloid and doing something so tacky.
Forget the fact that Clegg and Cameron took part in the same publicity stunt, their participation jarred less because Clegg really has nothing left to lose and Cameron, as Tory party leader, is duty-bound to do a bit of sucking up to Rupert Murdoch.
To make matters worse, Miliband subsequently issued an apology that was so half-hearted and cowardly that it too has backfired.
It has also cost him any brownie points he might have scored with The Sun. They have taken offence at his attempted apology and savaged him in Saturday's paper.
The Sun rather disingenuously argued that Miliband's apology was an insult to England:
"We've a question for Ed Miliband. What, exactly, is there to apologise for about having your picture taken holding our special England issue? Our free publication – sent to 22 million homes – is a celebration of England and Englishness, and of the values of print and newspapers. It's also a significant contribution to the economy – which help create jobs. Jobs for people who vote in elections (hint, hint).
"But Ed Miliband seems to think that's something to apologise for... It makes you wonder how Ed Miliband think he is going to persuade English voters to put him into No 10."
The Sun's criticism may be a bit of a stretch, but either way they've managed to make Miliband look ridiculous twice in a week. And this is the problem for Miliband. It is currently very easy to make him look ridiculous.
Of course it shouldn't matter that Miliband seems "weird". It shouldn't matter that he can't eat a bacon sandwich without looking like he is trying to pass a very painful stool.
It shouldn't matter. But it does. It was Miliband's own party and Labour's army of pollsters and spin doctors who schooled us all in the modern belief that politics is about style over substance and unless they can break away from such superficial PR and inject a little more substance back into their approach, Miliband remains on a hiding to nothing.
The Sun has roped Ed Miliband and David Cameron into a publicity stunt to advertise the newspaper ahead of the World Cup...
The party leaders' agreeing to pose with the paper is part of a huge marketing campaign which has seen The Sun send free copies of the paper to 22 million households around England.
However, the free version of the paper was not delivered to Liverpool, where the paper is still widely boycotted due to its notorious coverage of the Hillsborough disaster, and postal workers in neighbouring parts of the North-West also refused to deliver it. Meanwhile, some people took to Twitter to say they planned to send it back 'freepost' to the address listed on The Sun's website or use it to line their cat's litter tray, while others left out notices stating they didn't want to receive it.
Today's Daily Express is back on the tomato wonderpills, having previously covered the story in 2013 and 2009 (see: Tomato "wonderpill" repeats on UK newspaper editors):
So has the story moved on? Back in 2009 the NHS reported that claims of a tomato wonderpill were critically undermined by a lack of evidence. When the Express ran the story again in 2013 the paper itself quoted an expert saying "more trials are needed". Now, in 2014, another source quoted by the papers says "it would need much larger trials to investigate outcomes carefully".
Remember when we were told England could be awarded the 2010 Fifa World Cup after South Africa had been deemed to be too far behind in its building work? Or what about that time we were told London was to be awarded the 2016 Olympics because Rio wouldn't be ready?
Now today we're being told England has 'got' the 2018 World Cup. The Daily Star has made a massive leap in assuming that revelations of widespread corruption behind the scenes of Qatar's successful 2022 bid, exposed by the Sunday Times, will result in not only the 2022 World Cup being moved to another country but also the 2018 World Cup, currently scheduled to take place in Russia, which will move to England. This despite the fact Russia has not been implicated in the latest corruption scandal to rock Fifa.
The Daily Star's sources are some unnamed "experts".
It seems a major sporting event cannot be scheduled on foreign soil without somebody running a fanciful story about a series of events that could lead to England having to step in and save the day.
It should be noted the only time in recent years that a bidding process has been re-opened and a new host city or nation chosen was for the 2005 World Athletics Championships, when the plan's of host city London descended into chaos and a new host city was needed.
Perhaps don't book June 2018 off work just yet.
The first edition of Friday's Daily Star brought news of a "sex pic shame" for Harry Styles, a member of boyband One Direction. The article, which the Star boasted was an "Exclusive", informed us:
"Harry Styles heaped fresh shame on drugs-scandal boyband One Direction last night. X-rated shots of the 20-yearold hunk in his pants have sparked outrage."
Inside the paper, the article stated:
"One Direction faced a sex storm last night as parents slammed the band's increasingly shocking behaviour. An explicit selfie image of Harry Styles, 20, flooded the net, sparking a flood of complaints."
However, a second edition of the Daily Star quickly emerged, telling a very different story.
The hastily written article this time informed us:
"One Direction star Harry Styles was furious last night after a fake sex picture appeared on the internet."
And the rewritten article inside added:
"A source close to the band said: "The fans knew immediately this picture wasn't Harry. For a start, the tattoo is not in the right place. Harry and the other lads are sick of all the fake stories and fake pictures..."
The Daily Star doesn't mention whether any media outlets fell for the picture.
"The Germans" have published a photo of Kate Middleton's bottom and the UK media are not happy about it at all. Never mind the years the British papers have spent ogling Kate's bottom and speculating about the contents of her womb. And put out of your mind all those "Her Royal Thighness" headlines when Kate's skirt was blown open. This is "the Germans" invading the privacy of Her Royal Thighness. And if there's one thing the tabloids like more than pictures of famous naked bottoms it's criticising "the Germans".
As The Sun says:
"They beat us on penalties, hog our sun loungers, and now the Germans are exposing the Duchess of Cambridge's bum. A gust of wind that lifted Kate's skirt has led to German paper Bild printing an embarrassing picture. We reckon they should keep their Hans off our princess's rear end."
You get the idea.
The Sun claims to have turned down the photos out of respect and sought out Ingrid Seward, editor in chief of Majesty magazine (which actually exists, apparently) to give them a well-deserved pat on the back.
"No one in the UK would publish this as the papers are showing respect to the royals," Seward told the The Sun - possibly ignoring the paper's 2012 decision to publish a front page photo of Prince Harry in the buff.
Seward then added that the decision by German tabloid Bild to publish the photos of Kate was "typical of the Germans" because "they love everything that smacks of nudity".
At this juncture it seems only fair to point out that The Sun's criticism of people who "love everything that smacks of nudity" appeared on Page 3, next to a picture of a topless woman in just a pair of briefs.
The Sun's picture editor obviously looked at the pictures closely - for purely professional reasons - and decided to respectfully obscure the Princess's bum crack with a carefully-placed crown. And while Seward was clearly appalled by this invasion of privacy she did eventually pluck up the courage to take a look herself and informed Sun readers "she does have a fantastic figure", respectfully adding "Kate doesn't seem to be wearing any pants".
One detail about these stories which has intrigued me is where they find the individuals pictured alongside these stories. We can be sure they aren't really who the stories claim but are they a willing model who is in on the joke? Or are they perhaps oblivious to the fact they are being linked to such tabloid silliness?
For example, who is the real 'Steve Butcher', the rather distinctive-looking individual pictured this week alongside claims that 'Nik Naks turned his bellend orange'?
The answer is actually rather sinister.
A few minutes on Google revealed the Sport's 'Steve Butcher, 34, from Crewe' is actually a 40-year-old named Joseph Smeenk. That is according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement which lists him as a convicted sex offender. If the Sport's photo looks like a police mugshot they found online, it's because it is:
Remember when it felt like you couldn't open a newspaper without being told we were about to be hit with a deluge of immigrants from Romania and Bulgaria. We were told flights and buses were fully booked and as many as 29 million - the entire population of both countries - could be heading to the UK when controls were lifted on 1 January:
And then the media was left a little red-faced when just one Romanian immigrant seemed to turn up:
Now the numbers have been counted and the Office of National Statistics has today reported the number of Romanians and Bulgarians working in the UK.... wait for it... fell by 4,000 over the first three months of 2014.
The coverage of two very different stories over the past week has served as an interesting barometer of UK newspaper priorities. One is a tragic story from west Africa which has been developing since mid-April but gaining long-overdue worldwide attention in the past week, the other is a celebrity tale from Hollywood.
There is growing anger about how little media attention there has been on the human rights abuses in Nigeria which have seen more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped and subjected to terrible crimes.
Meanwhile it was almost impossible to miss the news that George Clooney got engaged this week.
Just five of nine national daily newspapers* covered the ongoing situation in Nigeria during the period of 28 April to 3 May compared to eight which covered the news of Clooney's engagement:
The story count for the week also shows a similar pattern with more stories in total being written about the Clooney engagement (34) than the Nigerian kidnappings (21). However, in terms of word count the two stories have seen almost identical levels of coverage over the past week with 11,449 words printed about George Clooney and 11,043 printed about the Nigerian kidnappings (though 4,824 of those words appeared in just one newspaper, The Guardian).
The Guardian's dominant role (4,824 words) in covering the news from Nigeria can be clearly seen when looking at the top three media outlets by word count. The Times (2,688 words) produced the second highest level of coverage followed, some may think surprisingly, by the Mirror (1,504 words):
Perhaps also surprising, The Guardian, with 2,430 words on the subject, printed the greatest amount of coverage of the George Clooney engagement (including 491 words on 'How will getting hitched affect Clooney's image?'). The Telegraph (2,090) was second followed by the Daily Mail (2,006).
Of course it could be argued that some of this may be down to the fact broadsheets typically run longer articles, though that isn't strictly true in this case. The Sun's longest article on George Clooney was 957 words, compared to 942 for The Guardian. Meanwhile, the Daily Mail and the Express produced the most articles about Clooney with seven apiece over the week, while the longest single article was an incredible 1,200 word monster in The Telegraph.
This is only a simple analysis of how the papers treated just two stories over a six day period and suggesting word count or story count are, on their own, an effective measure of priority - or quality - of coverage would be foolish. Looking at the balance struck on each paper individually perhaps paints the clearest picture of where papers' priorities were.
The Times and The Guardian had almost identical ratios of Nigerian news to Clooney engagement news:
It is of course entirely up to each newspaper to decide what their readers will want or need to know about and the Telegraph was obviously convinced its readers would be more interested in and better served by a focus on Clooney, while The Mirror was almost the exact opposite:
The Sun and The Express clearly believed the news from Nigeria would not be of interest or of importance to their readers, while both gave significant coverage to George Clooney's news:
The Daily Mail also decided against covering the Nigerian news while the Independent believed its readers would have - or should have - no interest in Clooney's happy news:
* For the purposes of this research the national newspapers analysed were the main print editions of The Sun, Mirror, Daily Express, Daily Star, Daily Mail, Independent, Daily Telegraph, Guardian and The Times printed during the period 28 April to 3 May. The Independent's i was omitted due to the duplication of content already counted in the Independent.