Tabloid bullshit of the month - January 2011

It's the last Saturday of the month, and we all know what that means!

No, it's not the day I stalk the streets with a hammer. That's not even funny, stop it.

It's time for the 5cc tabloid bullshit of the month award! Stick a conical party hat on and start drinking warm lager from a plastic cup while 'Lily the Pink' plays in the background and your aunt embarrasses herself on the dance floor.

It was a very wide field this month, but I've said why in the email to the lucky winner so I won't make you read that twice.

I've bent the rules a bit this month, and the winner is Steve Doughty for ''It's not a major problem': Council leader defends lack of bin collection for a MONTH despite mountains of rubbish, rats and a vile stench', 'Foreigners take two out of three new jobs as statistics reveal nearly 200,000 vacancies were filled by those born overseas', 'Now libel laws are used to silence pig farm protesters' (sort of), ''Now some people are more equal than others': Despair of Christian hotel owners penalised for turning away gays' and 'Number of British Muslims will double to 5.5m in 20 years'.

Phew. Here's why:
Dear Mr Doughty,

I am proud to inform you that you are 2011's first winner of journalism's newest prize!

The crap picture of a trophy attached to this email is for you to display, so the world can see you won the 5cc tabloid bullshit of the month award for January 2011. You might want to hire a hall and get disco lights and everything!

You beat off a hell of a lot of competition this month, with hacks at the Sun acting outraged at sexism while also printing pictures of half naked women next to words they never said that coincidentally happen to reflect the paper's editorial line; Melanie Phillips saying that being told gays exist for one month of the year will turn our children gay and destroy the concept of normal sex; your colleague 'Daily Mail Reporter' pretending that a ruling about a woman suffering domestic abuse meant you can lose your home if you shout at your spouse; Tom Utley making the stupid claim that next you could lose your home if you sulk; Liz Jones for a column about Joanna Yeates that was so unintentionally hilarious that it shot past the border to seek asylum in the land of self parody; the Daily Star for its front page headline about Richard Keys quitting his job at Sky Sports; and finally, the closest contender to you, Richard Desmond for pulling his papers from regulation by the Press Complaints Commission.

I've even had to tweak the rules for you a bit this month. Usually, I like to give the award to the best bullshit article, but you've been such a powerhouse of bullshit this month that I've decided to bend the rules and award it to a few of yours because of their cumulative effect.

Here's what you won for:
  • A standard bit of lazy hackery in 'Foreigners take two out of three new jobs as statistics reveal nearly 200,000 vacancies were filled by those born overseas', in which you took figures that are published every three months and made a bullshit calculation to come up with the number of jobs foreigners took. The only thing wrong with it is the 'foreigners' aren't necessarily foreign and the 'jobs' aren't actually jobs. Other than that, you're golden.

    Here's one way you can tell your calculation is rubbish. Nearly three years ago, the Express did the same calculation over a different time period. They found that foreigners took more jobs than actually existed, which is, you know, impossible. Didn't stop them publishing a headline claiming migrants took ALL new jobs (and swiftly having to remove the story from its website after complaints to the PCC). At least this time they just churned your story - which is not evidence of your originality as a journalist since this same trick has been going since at least 2007.
  • Sympathising with people who refused service to homosexuals in ''Now some people are more equal than others': Despair of Christian hotel owners penalised for turning away gays' without spotting the top class irony in the comment in that headline.

    (This followed last November's 'Mixed-race adoption rules must be changed say ministers... but they duck fears over Christian discrimination' which likens not being allowed to adopt children from a different race with not being allowed to discriminate against gays, calling the prevention of discrimination, uh, discrimination. Still, it's an improvement on 2009, when the headline to a similar story you wrote referred to 'adoption Nazis'.)

    These are all in the 'news' section of the website rather than 'opinion'.

    Wonder how those would have played out if the people not wanting to be nice to homosexuals were Muslim.

  • A standard bit of 'Gah! The Muslims are coming!' scaremongering in 'Number of British Muslims will double to 5.5m in 20 years'. While the figures are what the Pew Research Center said, you gotta love the apocalyptic 'More Muslims than Kuwait' line (which might be because Kuwait's entire population is less than London) and the pictures of women in burkhas, especially the one marching across the map of the globe showing all the countries becoming gradually - cue the 'Imperial March' music from Star Wars - Muslim.

    Plus, the pull-out box says "Currently 0.8 per cent of the U.S. population is American, but by 2030 that is expected to rise to 1.7 per cent." Ha ha.
    Still, you ought to be more careful with this sort of thing, since the EDL have already used one of your articles in a recruitment video.
You might feel a bit hard done by with some of this stuff. You might not have written the 'adoption nazi' headline, you didn't pull together the image of the burkha wearing muslim marching across the globe and you don't decide what section of the website your stuff appears on. But here's the thing. You write for the Daily Mail. If you want to write sober articles about the number of Muslims in the world, or if you make serious examinations of stories about Christians who want to be able to refuse service to neighbours they don't love as they love themselves, you should maybe write for a different paper. As it is, your list of articles this month looks like a series of parody headlines dreamt up by people taking the piss.

One last thing - credit where it's due. In 'Britain is migrant magnet of Europe: Only Spain admits more non-EU immigrants', you seem to be using official Dutch figures for population density, whereas last year in 'This very crowded isle: England is most over-populated country in EU' you didn't. Possibly that's because your article would have been ruined if you did, but I don't want to leap to unsupported conclusions, since that's your job.
Anyway, I hope this means we won't get more scaremongering about England overtaking the Netherlands as 'the most overcrowded country in Europe' next time someone asks a parliamentary question about population density.

There you go. In short, you win! You're now in with a chance to win the 5cc tabloid bullshitter of the year award 2011, where the winner of most monthly awards will get a whole new prize. I'll be honest with you, if you keep going on at this rate you'll probably have it all sewn up by March.

I'll be reproducing this letter over at www.fivechinesecrackers.com. If you'd like to make an acceptance comment, or reply, please email me at fivechinesecrackers [at] gmail.com (that way I'll know it's really you) and I'll add it to the comments on the post. Nobody's done that so far, so you might want to buck the trend.

Cheers then!

That's it for January! Check back on the last Saturday of February for next month's award! If you're waiting for the next Littlejohn post, it's a comin'. I'm working on it.

If you have any nominations for next month, leave them in the comments or email me at fivechinesecrackers [at] gmail.com and I'll consider the. Big ole thanks to 'Only That In You' for emailing the nomination for this month. I was going to pick Richard Desmond, but I changed my mind.


ianquill said...

Wow,that was excellent and I've got to hand it to you for making such an excellent call when there's just so much competition out there these days - reading it all must be difficult but as they say, "it's a dirty job but someone's gotta do it!" Keep it up.

hmallett said...

"...I don't want to leap to unsupported conclusions, since that's your job." gave me a real chuckle.