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Tuesday 28 December 2010

Stateside Snow And Slanted Reporting

It’s been the turn of the USA’s Northeast Corridor to be on the receiving end of heavy snowfall: 20 inches of the stuff fell on New York City at the weekend. It’s the kind of stuff that happens, and with yesterday being a supposedly normal working day Stateside, clearing up was a priority.

Meanwhile, in the UK, clearing up has involved sanitising the less convenient news from NYC, and then using it to lay into our own hard pressed snow clearance services. In the vanguard of this slanted reportage have been the obedient hacks at the Daily Mail, who have told thatUS is back to work after THREE FOOT deluge”.

Note that, for the Mail, 20 and 36 are roughly equivalent numbers. And also note that this optimism is not shared by the New York Post, more tellingly observingFury as city is paralyzed by blizzard”. The Fire Department at one point had 1400 calls stacked up. Streets were impassable. Many main roads had not been treated or ploughed by late Monday. Ambulances couldn’t get to callouts, and hospitals were short staffed.

Not that you would know this by reading the Mail’s account, which says “US workmen had their country up and running within a matter of hours”. It is as if the two papers were reporting on two different countries. Compare and contrast:

Mail: “Just one train was stranded on the entire New York subway system

NYP: “Virtually every line in the subway system experienced either delays or shutdowns for the morning rush

Mail: “Here [UK] ... rail users ... were forced to spend the night on trains that had become stuck

NYP: “Hundreds of passengers were stuck all day and all night at Penn Station, including some who slept on parked trains

Mail: “1600 snow ploughs battling to stop the city grinding to a halt

NYP: “At one point yesterday, nearly 1029 buses were stuck in the snow and ice ... nearly a quarter of the ... total fleet

Mail: “24 hours of furious cleaning to open up all the streets

NYP: “It could still take days [plural] for the snow levels to come down significantly

Given the ease with which news sources in NYC can be accessed, it might be thought that the Daily Mail would err on the factual, even on an issue where their agenda dictates laying into the authorities, rather than demonstrate that the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre is not supervising a credible news outlet.

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