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Thursday 9 December 2010

Daily Mail: Right Subject, Wrong Country

Rail enthusiasts used to enjoy complaining at BBC website reports when the stock photo was of a train type totally different to the one in the story. The Beeb has since managed to make the effort, but sadly, this is not the case at the Daily Mail.

And it’s not an obscure or nerdy point where Paul Dacre’s finest fall down: in a story rubbishing operator SouthEastern, the Mail and its hacks miss a raft of very obvious clues that their photo choice is wrong.

Near the top of the article, a photo is captioned “Out of action: Southeastern trains, which took de-icers out of service, was one of the worst hit lines last week”.

There then follows a rant about SouthEastern and Network Rail (NR) not keeping tracks and live rails clear. But in the photo, there are no live rails, but overhead wiring. SouthEastern, except for their services over HS1, don’t operate in any area with overhead electrification, and neither do they use either of the train types shown. Nor are they connected with First Group, whose name and logo are clearly visible.

This is because the photo was taken at Edinburgh’s Waverley station. So not even in the right country, then.

And the caption is wrong in saying that SouthEastern took de-icing trains out of service, as it did not have any in service in the first place. The next photo is better, but still not quite accurate: the part of London’s Victoria station shown is not the one used by SouthEastern.

But this is consistent with the rest of the piece, with statements such as “[A] Charing Cross to Hastings train was forced to shut down north of Orpington as an insulating layer of ice blocked the electricity from getting to the rail”.

Wrong again: the electricity was already in the rail. The problem was in getting it from the rail and to the train.

SouthEastern, along with NR, may have fallen well short of expectations during the worst of the recent weather. But that’s no excuse for the journalism to do likewise.


Anonymous said...


Roy said...

Um, Southeastern do run under wires: from Ashford Intl and Ebbsfleet Intl to St. Pancras Intl.

Tim Fenton said...

@2, I stand corrected and have edited the post!

Anonymous said...

Why would anyone ever want to waste 10 minutes of their life nit-picking a national press article like this. It's the national press, they get stuff like this wrong all the time, who cares! Not only that but I've just wasted 2 minutes of my life reading it and then writing this, that's 2 minutes of my life you took and I want it back!