You're a tabloid reporter, and being a tabloid, your paper loves the 'Christmas is banned' scare stories and all that 'PC Gone mad' rubbish. You come across a story that could be turned into an 'Oh my god why are they banning Christmas? Won't somebody think of the children?' scare, but you're aware that it's most probably bollocks. What do you do?
Bingo! You write the story anyway! Just follow this handy template and you're away.
Start with a headline that leaves the readers in no doubt that Christmas is actually, definitely being banned. Bonus points for mentioning political correctness. (Don't worry if you can't think of one, A sub will write you a new one if yours is pony). Here's a handy exmple:
'Council renames Christmas festival 'Midwinter Celebration' sparking PC row'
Pow! That's what I'm talking about! There's a PC row because a council hs renamed the Christmas festival.
Now you need to bed in that impression with a killer opening paragraph. If you want to start introducing doubt, the opening paragraphs are a good place to do it. Here's where you can start adding 'could', 'may' or 'some' to give the illusion that the story is balanced. Of course, you could just dispense with that namby-pamby rubbish and just turn the bullshit cannon up to 11 with something like:
First, there was 'Winterval'. Now a churchman has criticised a council for holding a 'Midwinter celebration' instead of a Christmas event for families.See, mentioning the most famous Christmas banning story will fool readers into making a connection - get this - even though the famous story itself wasn't true. Your paper's readers aren't likely to have found that out.
Next, you need to introduce some quotes from people disgusted by the display of Marxist (or Nazi) PC madness. If you don't have any of these, you can rustle them up by phoning around likely suspects (like MigrationWatch, the Taxpayer's Alliance, the Campaign Against Political Correctness or Philip Davies) and giving them the version of the story you'll be using in your headline and opening paragraphs. They'll do the rest for you.
If you haven't got any of these, don't worry. All you need is a story supplied by a lone nutter. Just quote them and use vague language to make it look as though there are more people. 'Critics' is a good one. Or:
The Rev Paul Flowers, a councillor and methodist minister, said omitting any mention of Christmas from the clearly festive event was stupid and hurtful.Ooh. They 'face accusations'. The readers don't have to know that the accusations come in one letter from one godsquadder and you're building an entire article around it. You said 'accusations' plural.
But bosses now face accusations of being oversensitive to ethnic minorities by keeping the reference to Christmas out of he family event on the last Sunday before Christmas Day.
Now, sometimes it's a good idea to pepper these early bits of the article with mentions of what's allowed by 'other faiths'. These mentions are especially useful in stories about how crucifix necklaces or silver virginity rings are prohibited - you can even ignore the fact that these are parts of general jewellery bans and mention turbans and headscarves if you like. But if you do wan't to use them in a Christmas story:
The city has a substantial Asian population and the museum has hosted Eid events in the past.Aside from the stupidity that an entire season is Christmas now, that's masterfully done. It even includes a 'why oh why'. They had something for Eid, why not Christmas? (You get bonus points if there actually turns out to have been a Christmas event at this very venue). I bet they renamed every other event in the month running up to Eid 'Eid' too. Okay, they probaby didn't.
Mr Flowers has written to the culture head at Bradford Council to complain.
He said: 'The museum, of course, has form. In most of the recent years, I can remember this specific museum organising Eid celebrations - indeed I have previously applauded the fact that they have done so.
'So, why, oh why, must they now resort to the stupidity and banality of advertising a bland "Midwinter Celebration" when the season is clearly Christmas and should be appropriately named as such?'
Now you've got the good bits out of the way, you can include a quote from the council that pretty much proves that everything you've already written is hairy rubbish. Your readers probably won't get that far and if they do, all the work you've put in up until this point will make the quote look like lies. You can go as far as a quote as blatant as:
Tony Stephens, assistant director of cultural services at the council, denied ignoring Christmas.There you go. The council has held loads of Christmas events. See that 'Christmas card making workshops and the chance to meet Santa'? It took place at the venue this article's about - but don't mention that (see the screengrab at the top). You've just disguised the fact that one god-botherer has written a creepy letter because an event near Christmas isn't called 'Christmas'; and the council haven't renamed anything. It was called the same thing last year, the first time it ever took place.
He said: 'We organise and support a wide range of events to celebrate Christmas.
This year we have held a large number of events including the Christmas lights switch-on, Christmas Carol Concert and a number of Christmas events in our museums and libraries including the Victorian Christmas Market, Christmas card making workshops and the chance to meet Santa Claus.
'The Medieval Midwinter event at Bolling Hall was held for the first time last year after the successful Midsummer event. It is planned to be held on the weekend nearest to the Midwinter Solstice and celebrates traditional seasonal activities that are relevant to the history and heritage of the hall and the communities it supported over many centuries.'
Now your readers think there's some nefarious PC plot against Christmas, when in fact the person being PC is the guy writing letters demanding that a festival be renamed because he's offended. Hurrah!