Archive for July, 2011

Daily Mail Reader Show Signs of Independent Thought

July 30th, 2011

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.

 

{lang: 'en-GB'}

Possible to stab gently with a bottle?!

July 22nd, 2011

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.

{lang: 'en-GB'}

Documentaries

July 8th, 2011

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?

{lang: 'en-GB'}

Why Bother?

July 7th, 2011

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.

{lang: 'en-GB'}