News

December 16th, 2012 by admin No comments »

I think news should inform us in some way.  It often gets waylaid in entertainment or opinion, but if I watch or read a news outlet my primary aim is to walk away more informed than I was when I sat down.

The coverage of Newtown, Connecticut shooting falls well short of this expectation.  I already know an awful thing happened.  I know how many died and their ages. I know America has an enormous practical and political problem with gun control.  I don’t know how it feels to lose a child.  I can’t imagine a week of pointing cameras in the faces of those that just have will change that.

I am reminded of Ian Hislop’s recent commentary on the Aberfan Disaster in his progamme ‘Stiff Upper Lip‘ which described the first modern media disaster:

Aberfan, where in 1966 local people met terrible tragedy with an old-fashioned resilience and dignity in the face of an increasingly intrusive media which was now insisting that we all had a right to share in other people’s grief.

I don’t think we have that right.  It is different for victims of war or natural disasters to an extent – by reminding those of us well ensconced in our safe homes that there are those desperate for our help keeps the money coming in and the pressure on governments to help.

No outsider can help in Newtown today, other than by staying away and affording these people some privacy for their grief.  I think I will give the news a miss for a while.

I’m reluctant to make a point from any of this but feel I should relate this soapbox moan to the purpose of this blog in some way.  Therefore I will leave you to explore the Daily Mail’s online reporting and ponder the impact of the Levenson Report on their coverage.

 

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Escape

November 24th, 2012 by Bleak_Flat 1 comment »

I wrote this in draft some time ago…

I read blogs for three different reasons.

1. They are law related and I am trying to learn from them or think about new things because of them.

2. They are nothing to do with law and I read them for the escapism of seeing what other people do with their lives.

3. They are written by idiots or loons and provide a supply of nonsense for me to mock on this blog.

My next blogroll entry belongs to number two. It is a blog/diary of a commercial airline pilot in the US. He has a wonderful writing style, explains his daily dramas in a simple and amusing way, and often begins a post with a pretty cockpit view of the sun coming or going across his windshield.

Whenever I have a post from him in my feed-reader, I save it until last as my prize for getting to the end of the list – that’s how much I enjoy it. Perhaps this is the adult incarnation of my seven-year-old ambition to become a pilot, the abandonment of which I mourn every time I hear the word pupillage, but I’d recommend it to anyone.

…except I can’t now as the site appears to have gone offline a week ago.  I am quite sad about this, as are folks here.  He occasionally expressed frustration with his employers, but nothing I’d think was especially controversial.  It is strange to think that years of writing can just disappear from the web – all that time and effort – gone.

As for this much neglected space, I have renewed the domain, which cost money.  To prove this was not a complete waste, I will have a think about what to do.  No longer a student, but with a job that doesn’t lend itself to blogging, and a dissertation to finish, things may be light for a while.  However, I suspect the Leveson Report will fill me with the need to rant somewhere, so it may well be here!

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Daily Mail Reader Show Signs of Independent Thought

July 30th, 2011 by Bleak_Flat 1 comment »

I saw a headline in the Mail last week and without even seeing the story I knew how they’d rearranged the facts to fit the story they wanted to write.  I thought about its potential as a blog post.  A blog about the nonsense of the Employment Support Allowance test compared to the Disability Living Allowance test often crosses my mind, and then is dismissed as being achingly dull because I’d have to quote huge chunks of the descriptors to illustrate the pointlessness of it all.
Happily, you’ve been spared this torture because an excellent blogger has taken the story to pieces themselves, and resisted the temptation to quote chunks of social security statutory instruments with it, so you should read it there :

 Reason for hope – Angry Mob.

It even concludes with the startling revelation that a resistant strain of Daily Mail reader may be emerging in the comments section.

 

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Possible to stab gently with a bottle?!

July 22nd, 2011 by Bleak_Flat 1 comment »

Researchers study the science of stabbing with a broken bottle Wired UK.

I’ll admit to being a little lost by the introduction of this article.  I would think how and at what point in the fight the glass is broken is more indicative of the state of D’s mind than the force D used, but an interesting snippet anyway.  It is based on a legal journal article that has an enormous pay-per-view charge, so I suppose I’ll remain ignorant.

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Documentaries

July 8th, 2011 by Bleak_Flat No comments »

There are three types of documentary films.

The first, and I’m afraid I tend to associate this with the BBC, is basically a stretched news item dragged out with interviews of outraged or distressed victims / or some variation of a freak-show dressed up an a documentary (Channel 4 are the main offenders for the latter).  They are normally as memorable as last week’s news items.

The second, and this is where C4 redeems itself, is an issue based documentary, often with some sort of celebrity endorsement, which tells a good story.  A good example would be Hugh’s Fish Fight.  Sometimes lacking detail and often a sense of balance in addition to the dramatic visuals, overall I would still say these are a good effort.  They also raise awareness because they tend to last long enough to become the subject of office-chat the next day.

Finally, the rarest is the sort of feature documentary which makes the viewer adjust their world view.  The viewer goes to bed thinking about the issue, and wakes up thinking about the issue.  The trouble with these films is they get such a limited distribution or release that hardly anyone sees them. The first I saw like this was the AIDS documentary A Closer Walk, which probably would have been even more unknown than it was had it not been narrated by Glenn Close.

More recently, I’d add the HBO commission Teenage Paparazzo, which aired on C4 at stupid o’clock earlier this year.  It posed some really interesting (and presently very topical) questions about journalism, celebrity culture and how this influences the aspirations of young people.

I wonder if some upcoming documentary filmmaker could be tempted to consider the issue of legal aid?

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Why Bother?

July 7th, 2011 by Bleak_Flat 1 comment »

Lord Prescott, among others, is leading a charge to this website. They are very excited because they have persuaded 140,000 people to click a button, submitting the following to the Consultation on the proposed acquisition by News Corporation of BSkyB Group PLC.

Dear Mr. Cameron and Mr. Hunt,
The undertakings you are consulting on for the BSkyB takeover by News Corporation are not good enough and the takeover shouldn’t go ahead. Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation already owns too much of our media and if this deal goes ahead would aggressively cross-promote its products, damaging rival news groups and restricting what we see and read.

The process for this deal is flawed. It looks at a limited set of issues, ignoring a major concern — that Murdoch  trashes media standards and ignores regulators. Hacking and other scandals show how his media often violates ethics and the law. There are serious gaps in the deal you outlined, including no fixed financial penalties for breaches. News Corporation can’t be trusted to stick to it.

I call on you to refuse to grant News Corporation any further control of British media until the deal has been reviewed by the competition commission and a full judge-led public inquiry into the hacking scandal is completed.

[sender_name]

[sender_postcode]

I think even the normal, non-lawyers out there will spot the inconsistencies in this – how can they suggest the process has not complied with English law in the second paragraph (when Mr Hunt has confidently announced he will publish the legal advice stating that it had) and then encourage those laws be ignored on a whim to comply with the request in the last paragraph?  At the slightest appearance of bias, a leading figure in the coalition government was publicly spanked and had the brief withdrawn, which is why this is Mr Hunt’s problem in the first place.  Why should News Corp pay “fixed financial penalties for breaches” when no other media outlet in the UK has such an obligation?  Can those clicking away point to examples of where News Corporation’s output had been found in breach of the Press Complaints Commission Code of Practice and failed to comply with findings on that complaint?

Of course I’m not suggesting that members of the public don’t have a right to express their reservations about the deal – it’s very healthy for our democracy that they do.  I also suspect that those closely following the intricacies of the deal could credibly respond to most of the challenges I raise above.  My frustration is with a mob-mentality being given the ability to auto-generate the guff above, to which they have applied absolutely no thought.  I think it lessens the value of having the consultation and will make the government wary of holding such consultations again if they are simply going to be flooded by what is, as far as I can tell, spam.

I refuse to accept Lord Prescott as a leader of those greatly wronged by the tabloid press.  He was the Deputy Prime Minister, caught using the perks of his Office to woo his mistress.  I agree press tactics and maybe even a privacy law should be considered in light of recent allegations, but the test for such measures for me will always mean that such an abuse of power will always get published.

The consultation closes tomorrow – if you have something to contribute, the email is bskyb-newscorp.consultation2@culture.gsi.gov.uk , but at least take the time to write it yourself.

On the most recent news, I see many people are excited that the News of the World will close.  Personally, I think there are British newspapers that emit a far greater level of nonsense and malice than the News of the World has ever published.  It is no surprise that thieving MPs, match-fixing Sportsmen, hypocritical TV journalists, rogue members of the Royal Family, polluting companies and coke-huffing supermodels will delight in the loss of the 186 year-old paper  –  it’s one less watcher holding them to account.

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Carry on Eating

May 31st, 2011 by Bleak_Flat 1 comment »

Alex Aldridge wrote an article for the Guardian this month lampooning the dining requirements of training as a barrister.  Most surprising for me was the number of barristers who appear to read the Guardian who rushed to correct him in the comments, which probably ended up being far more informative than the article – surely a first!

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Placeholder

March 31st, 2011 by Bleak_Flat No comments »

Test – sorry

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Unions Killed the ET

January 31st, 2011 by Bleak_Flat No comments »

If you want it badly enough, you can paraphrase this post post as ‘by being persistently annoying, unions have given the government the opportunity to make Employment Tribunals even less protective of employees’.

It may not quite mean that, but it’s a good post from LAG’s blog anyway – do have a read.  I really like LAG, it’s a shame they don’t give bigger discounts to students, I’d be a regular attendee if they did.

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2011

January 1st, 2011 by admin No comments »

So, this blog sees in it’s third year, hitting a new level of inactivity.  I’d always wondered why law student blogs seemed to vanish at about the point that the author started the BVC.  Well, having started the BPTC I now have the answer – there comes a point, normally around 2am, that I realise that I’m passed the point of caring about how well I understand the law I’m trying to learn, without going off in search of the more obscure reaches of the field with which I try to fill these pages.  Clearly this is pathetic and so I shall try to be less whiny in 2011.

Lets begin with a fresh Daily Little Law Links..

1.  This great Supreme Court decision at the end of last year is a relief.  Those caught by the old rule were unfortunate enough and often totally ignored by the Government until it realised money was owed.  Its not a blanket rule, but it’s a step in the right direction and well done to the CPAG for bringing the case.  Head over to Nearly Legal for a summary.

2. The Register has a very interesting piece about a new Apple patent relating to product review systems.  The article doesn’t actually use the word bribe, but I bet it crossed their mind.

3. Finally, have a quick glance at The Guardian’s Best Legal Reads of 2010.

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