Saturday 12 December 2009

Please Stop Reading The Daily Mail!

Dear Mum and Dad,

You've both said to me many times that there are 'two sides to every argument'. That is, of course true. But eventually, unless a person wants to spend a life in permanent indecisiveness, the time must come to weigh the evidence offered by each side and reach a verdict, a best guess perhaps, but one based on enough to stand up to some scrutiny.

That's why it bothers me more than ever that you still buy the Daily Mail. It's bad enough that the paper is happily promoting travel to Burma, one of the most brutal countries on the planet, in direct contravention of the call by democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi for a tourism boycott. The travel companies that the paper publicises are on the Burma Campaign UK's Dirty List, which seemed to matter little to the Mail reporter Mark Palmer. There's two sides to every argument, of course, so presumably he went ahead and ignored the advice he had been given by those in the know on the basis of some other unspecified evidence - and not just for the free holiday.

But what really, really bothers me is the Mail's coverage on climate change. Here the newspaper has form. According to research by Max Boykoff and Maria Mansfield of the University of Oxford, the Daily Mail has a track-record of being more divergent from the scientific consensus on climate change than any other tabloid newspapers, particularly in its heavy reliance on 'contrarian' views that claim that humanity's role in climate change is negligible.

In its editorials recently, the paper has been at pains to argue that there is (here we go) “more than one side to this hugely complex argument - although anyone listening to the BBC or to any of our three main political parties might be forgiven for thinking otherwise.” Like some sort of dissenting missionary pamphlet, it has revelled in the recent leaked e-mails, the so-called 'Climategate' scandal, asking whether “the pernicious culture of spin and deception which ruined our belief in politicians has now infected the world of science”. It has been prepared to reluctantly accept that “there is compelling evidence that average temperatures have been rising over recent years” but has qualified this by suggesting that “there are many respectable scientists who believe questions still remain about the causes”.

Who are these 'respectable scientists'? We're not told. Instead the Mail relies on the likes of Christopher Brooker, a man who brings his history degree to the science of climate change and who also, incidentally, denies the overwhelming evidence on passive smoking. It also provides ample space to the thoughts of former Tory Chancellor Nigel Lawson, whose scientific background is limited to a PPE from Oxford but who is chair of the climate change denial group, The Global Warming Policy Foundation. If all else fails, the Mail resorts to scare stories about rising costs of flights attacking ordinary families or the threat of a climate 'stealth fuel tax'.

My point is this – the Daily Mail may talk about there being “more than one side to this hugely complex argument” but it only ever reports one side.

To find another perspective, it's always necessary to look elsewhere. One place might be the Met Office's website, which on Thursday produced a statement signed by scientists from all over the country expressing their “utmost confidence in the observational evidence for global warming and the scientific basis for concluding that it is due primarily to human activities.” The statement is followed by an impressive list, I think you'd agree. So who to believe? I'm not a scientist either. But if the choice is between those who talk about the “traceability of the evidence and support for the scientific method” or a newspaper whose coverage has been further than from the comprehensive scientific consensus than any other, one that provides a platform solely to the 'sceptics', then I know how to best weigh up the evidence and reach a verdict.

Until there is compelling proof to cast genuine doubt, I think the overwhelming evidence points to the fact that climate change is man-made, that it can therefore be tackled and that it is not beyond our ability to take the steps to do so. Now I know that in offering solutions, some environmentalists can seem particularly pious and annoying sometimes, especially when they seem to go on and on about polar bears, but climate chaos is fundamentally about the plight of people – in the vast majority of cases, the poorest people on the planet. And I know you raised me to be absolutely clear what side I stand on when it comes to defending those who are excluded from power.

So please, if you want to know what I want for Christmas, I'd really like you to stop reading the Daily Mail. I know there are two sides to an argument but it genuinely upsets me how the paper's immoral ambivalence keeps creeping into conversations with those I respect and care about more than anyone.

I'll see you in the New Year!

Your loving son,


Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more. My parents have been reading the Mail as long as I've been alive and probably longer (I think my grandparents also took the paper because there used to be a few copies from the '40s around the house), and it remains a deeply pernicious influence on them. It provides the easy answers they want to complex questions and feeds every wicked prejudice they might be harbouring. It is very, very hard to see your loved ones being manipulated by suc a wretched tabloid, but they really only have themselves to blame.

Candoguy said...

The Daily Mail is popular with its readers because it offers a lot of information. Aside from its political views there are a lot of features (perhaps more than any other newspaper) and that's a very big selling point.

I notice that our biggest selling newspaper (shame) is the Sun which doesn't come in for nearly as much flak as the Mail despite its even more right wing agenda and greater unbalanced journalism.

The Daily Express is also another that doesn't seem to attract the same amount of vitriole as the Mail.

Why? In comparison to these two tabloids, the Mail is far superior in every way.

Also the Mail addresses concerns that many hard-working, taxpaying people have. It also seems that most the fashionable Daily Mail knockers do not have the same mortgage commitments, personal responsiblities or aspirations that its readers do.

They are the reasons why the Daily Mail is popular.

It's more of a question of how we read the tabloids. The key is makeing sure that we are able to read objectively rather than subjectively when critisising our choice of newspaper.

Roger Myring said...

The Daily Mail is popular because it pretends to offer a lot of information and immitates the style of a broadsheet in some of its presentation. That appeals to a certain type of person.

However, it contains little to no more facts that any red top or that other faux-red top, Daily Express. The supposed facts it does have are created by one sided opinion givers like Taxpayers Alliance and MigrationWatch - rent a quotes if you will. Thats the equivalent as someone who denies immigration existing saying there are no immigrants in this country because one hamlet somewhere in Dorset doesn't have any. Its often that very stupid.

Its pretend right wing comments don't offend me. Its lies, spin, contradictions and shock-journalism do. The way it pulls, stretches and squeezes its supposed morals to fit in a story offends me. The fact that many of its readers seem to believe that it is factual surpises me, but much more worries me.

Apparently the Mail wants free speach so that it can insult and offend people, but is outraged if people use the word "piss", "bollocks" or "shit" on tv. Free speach only when the Mail agrees is NOT free speach. You want free speach? Let me leave a comment on the Mails website saying Jan Moir is a cunt? No its not polite but if she can insult thousands of people, let me insult that one person in reply with one word. If you actually want free speach that is.

Its the worst paper in this country because unlike the redtops, it pretends to be something it isn't and its readers lap it up in almost brainwashed fashion. It isn't factual, it contains little news and it is full of spin (remember when they used to say that spin was bad - and yet now its seemingly fine??)

For these reasons and many more, this is why the Mail and Mailites attract so much negativity and mocking laughs from all areas of the political spectrum.

The fact that mailites are completely unable to answer the points of detractors and instead use catchphrase insults in reply or cloud over genuine points them is why Mailites get so much stick from both right wing and left wing people. The fact that Mailites don't realise you can be right wing and not have the pathetic opinions of the Mail is why they get so much stick.

The Mail doesn't address peoples genuine concerns, it grabs some of them, creates others, and then spins them, pulls them, makes childish campaigns out of them and sensationalises them. Result being that their apparently brainwashed readership think that any coverage that doesn't agree with the mailites extreme position seems so mundane (but infact real) that only the mail "appears" to be correct. Fail in every sense.

The mail likes to make its readership feel like victims. One of the ways it does this is by suggesting that immigrants are hiding in your wardrobe waiting to steal your wives and eat your dog. It does it by constantly knocking Britain. For example, it told readers that Britain was one of the worst countries in the world because it came bottom of a list of countries and their ratings of standard of living. Gosh you say? Bollocks i say. There were 10 countries in the world in the mails list.

Its not fashionable to knock the Mail. It just falls naturally when considering current affairs and questionning your beliefs and understanding. Unless you're one of those that haven't yet bothered themselves to realised what the Mail is and does (and its not hard to realise, its no intellectual secret), you can easily see the mail for the joke that it so often is.

Continued below . . .

Roger Myring said...

Cont . . .
It accuses others of dumbing down, one of its great "pot, kettle, black" moments. However insists on (and is obsessed by) catchphrases like "Harriet Harperson", "elf n safety" and using the "pc brigade" tag as a term that covers far too much. It pads news stories with things like ok-style celebrity stories and made up health scares. It only offers one side to stories or ridicules the other side. It favours opinions of their very well paid shock journalists over facts. It complains about the BBC being ageist and yet repeatedly shows pictures of older men naked telling us how fat they are - contradiction? For sure. Who's really dumbing down newspapers?
Its read by a lot of ex-pats resident in Spain, for example, who probably add little to the Spanish way of life and do not speak English but who are supposedly outraged by the immigrants coming into the UK.

It has Littlejohn telling us how bad things are for him in his local area in the UK, even though he lives in Florida. Is it any wonder why he gets stories so factually incorrect or totally lacking?!

The Mail is largely targeted at women, and often those that just do lunch and don't work. It is not targeted at the employed readers that buy real newspapers like the Telegraph, Independent etc.

Essentially the mail is intended for people that can't be bothered to think for themselves and would rather have opinions fed to them, or to have their already held opinions made more extreme so that the reader doesn't have to bother using their braincells to reconsider their opinions. The mail is aimed at stubborn people that really don't have sufficient fact based opinions that would not need to be questioned.

Apparently if you don't read the mail, its made its readers think you must be a Guardian reader. And its readers believe it. Many right wing people are embarrassed by the Mail.

The paper sucks - candoguy has been sucked in.

candy said...

To Roger: How judgemental do you sound?

Anonymous said...

I think he makes some very good points. Though you're entitled of course to have the opinion that he's judgemental, your view might be more respected if you produced a well-written refutation for each point you disagree with.

Roger Myring said...

Candy - not sure if you are Candoguy or not!?

Should you not have called both I and Candoguy judgemental as they said:
"It also seems that most the fashionable Daily Mail knockers do not have the same mortgage commitments, personal responsiblities or aspirations that its readers do."

Or are you offended that i dislike that bible of fact and reason that we're both commenting on?!
You could always reply to some of my points!? Would be jolly nice.

Perhaps the following from my post rings true?!:
"The fact that mailites are completely unable to answer the points of detractors and instead use catchphrase insults in reply or cloud over genuine points is why Mailites get so much stick from both right wing and left wing people."

You could read my response in the context of it essentially being a response to Candoguys. Or you could be what I see as a stereotypical mailite approach and just brush over my points and cloud them simply as "judgemental". Thanks

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