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Saturday 3 July 2010

EXCLUSIVE: Lies, Damn Lies, And EU Directives – 4

As the Fourth Estate moves on to the next EU scare story, I can now reveal that the Grocer magazine was indeed the source of “EU Bans A Dozen Eggs”. I am not at liberty to say how the information found its way on to Zelo Street, but can say that this has been confirmed by Grocer editor Adam Leyland.

The timeline is straightforward: the Grocer article was first published on June 25 – not June 26, which is the date of the online copy – and it is believed that journalists at the Rothermere press are among the magazine’s subscriber base. No act of tipping off was required.

So far, so straightforward, but what I have also discovered is that none of the papers that ran with the story on June 27 – the Mail On Sunday, News Of The World and Sunday Times – bothered to check any details with the Grocer before publishing. Yes, that includes a Murdoch title that has just retreated behind a paywall, the justification being that we should have to pay for the quality of journalism being provided.

Except, in this case, all that Rupe’s clearly not very upmarket troops did was to lift an article from another publication and paste it into the Sunday Times. I doubt that they even acknowledged the source (the MoS didn’t). So where is the supposed quality? On the face of it, this is just another piece of lazy hackery dressed up as respectable journalism.

Moreover, I can reveal that only one paper, the Maily Telegraph, saw fit to check the story with the Grocer before committing to print. This may explain why they ran the story a day after the Murdoch and Rothermere titles, and also why their article referred, as I noted at the time, to pricing by the dozen (or whatever number).

Also, what is coming clear is that terms such as “A Dozen” will not be banned by any upcoming EU directive. You might have difficulty finding that information in any of the papers who were first with this particular Euro-scare: here is a superb example of concern within an industry (retail, in this case) being hyped merely to sell a few more copies, of the assembled hackery relegating mere facts in favour of a few screaming headlines.

The Fourth Estate may change its rules. But it is utterly predictable in its behaviour. And its standards never improve.


Tim F said...

This tendency to base stories on unattributed lifts from online sources, including blogs, chatrooms etc is bad enough, but when it's done by MSM journalists who are constantly bleating about how blogging is destroying legitimate journalism, it edges into monstrous hypocrisy.

Tom said...

"I am not at liberty to say how the information found its way on to Zelo Street"

Err, you read his column in the Daily Mail? http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1291822/How-Europe-got-eggs-scrambled-How-EU-rules-complex-authors-didnt-understand-them.html

Tim Fenton said...

Tom, good try, but as you'll see, my post is timed 1234 hours on the 3rd, while the column on Mail Online is timed 2254 hours (or, if you wish, 10:54 pm).

But thanks for looking in and commenting - it's much appreciated!

Ian Ferguson said...

There seems to be a fashion in big media nowadays of writing a sensationalist scare story with obvious flaws, then quietly publishing a retraction a few days later.

The paper gets its sales, the public get their dose of outrage, and the wrong parties get their retraction/apology.

The losing party, sadly, is the truth - middle England remains convinced that, for example, the EU are wasting money attempting to enforce ridiculous laws on us poor harassed traditional British.

This kind of story is exactly why the PCC needs actual teeth, and actual independence.