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Tuesday 17 January 2012

Express Return Weather Horror

In Winter, the UK’s weather can be cold. This may sound a statement of the obvious, but to those labouring in the service of Richard “Dirty” Desmond, it is the kind of miraculous revelation that frightens potential readers into buying their increasingly cheap and nasty papers at very little cost. Thus it is that the Express has inflated a change in temperature into a serious story.

As so often, the hack whose by-line appears on the piece is one Nathan Rao (crazy name, crazy guy!?!), telling readers “Wrap Up ... Now We’re Colder Than Moscow”. He goes on about “Bitterly cold blast ... emergency health alert ... it is expected to plunge to below freezing today and icy winds will make the UK colder than Moscow”. This is complete baloney, as a check on Moscow’s forecast reveals.

But, as the man said, there’s more: Rao brings the earth shattering news that, although it will be cold today, it will be less cold tomorrow. Then the temperature will fall again as the weekend approaches. No shit, Sherlock. There is even a quote from a Met Office source who tells that “We have got a few days of very cold weather and frosty nights”. Wow, what an insight.

Readers are then told that a daytime high of 12 Celsius is “almost triple the seasonal average”, this coming from Positive Weather Solutions (PWS). Actually, that should readalmost double”, which tells you all you need to know about the credibility of PWS, followed by far too many papers whose hacks ought to know better. And the Express record this Winter isn’t any better.

After all, the paper, with Rao the main culprit, started their “Winter Shock Horror” campaign before the end of September last, with “Britain Faces An Early Big Freeze” (wrong), followed by “-20C To Hit Britain” in October (ditto) and “Big Siberian Freeze To Hit Britain” in early November (also totally wrong). The diet of rubbish continued, right up to “It’s A White Christmas” (it wasn’t).

And these were merely the highlights of the stream of made-up copy about the weather, and as I pointed out last month, the Express produced through these actions a kind of inverse weather curse: the severity of Winter was, more or less, the direct opposite of what Des’ finest kept telling their readers it would be. The tradition has now been maintained with today’s story.

Because the assertion of “Colder Than Moscow” is not only untrue, but ensures that the UK won’t be. The Desmond hackery continues to lower everyone’s energy bills and therefore – albeit unwittingly – performs a great public service.

That’s a genuine Benchmark Of Excellence.


Anonymous said...

A note on the highly respected PWS. They're such a legitimate weather organisation that they feel the need to copy and paste twitter spambot pics onto their website claiming they are members of staff, forecasting for the company. In reality it looks like they have just been lifted off some list of 'hot facebook profile pics' blogpost. Examples can be found on their website under staff bios and a Google image search will reveal how frequently those pics are used on the internet. Example here: http://twitpic.com/7vf1nt

Tom said...

It should be neither triple nor double the seasonal average. If the seasonal average is 6 degrees C, doubling that will not give you 12 degrees - it will give you something like 285 degrees. What we call zero is freezing point, not the start of the scale - you can't multiply the numbers relative to it.