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Tuesday 22 October 2013

A Stab In The Darkness

Tim Shipman, obedient Dacre attack doggie, was clearly excited this morning as he took to Twitter to proclaim a new advert extolling the virtues of the printed word. “Anyone who loves newspapers will love this great new advert” he enthused. Then others in the Twittersphere looked it over, and the response was less than rapturous. I confess to being particularly severe on the Daily Mail man.
Because, under the lightbulb silhouette, within which the mastheads of the UK’s national titles are shown, we are told of “A light in the darkness”, and more specifically “MPs’ expenses, Hillsborough, Phone Hacking, Stephen Lawrence, Help for Heroes, National Security Agency, Cycle Safety, Wikileaks”. These are held to represent “The national press in all its forms”.

Cycle safety? The only such issue on my radar right now is that of London, where the national press is more or less absent as more cyclists are killed or injured and the Mayor does sweet Jack about it, barring having some blue paint marked on the roads. And Help for Heroes is laudable, but it’s just another fund raising exercise – it hardly needs the resources of a national paper just to do that.

MPs’ expenses was a case of the Telegraph paying the most for a CD. This is not an operation requiring journalistic skill. Little in the way of investigative powers is required to close the deal. And the Stephen Lawrence case, although it is A Very Good Thing that the pond life responsible has been sent down for a long stretch, would never have happened if Neville Lawrence had not known Paul Dacre.

The Lawrence case also depended on the well-worn Mail tactic of knowing that their targets could not afford to sue (and not every instance of this practice is public spirited, pace the Taylor sisters). And then we get to Hillsborough, an event which is defined not by the positive contribution of the Fourth Estate, but its nadir as the Sun attempted to dump on Liverpool fans, many of whom were dead.

All that is left, then, is Phone Hacking, which most of the press ignored until the story blew up in Murdoch’s face and they could avoid publication no longer, where the Guardian was accused of running a “non story”. The inclusion of Wikileaks and the NSA snooping revelations is just staggering in its sheer effrontery: several nationals have used these events just to kick the Guardian and accuse it of disloyalty.

Only last week, the Daily Mail was comparing the paper to terrorists and publishing verbatim any claim they could find that the Guardian had put lives in danger, encouraged terrorism and should be subject to criminal investigation. Now they are trying to clean off the filth from peddling all that falsehood and misinformation by riding on the back of the achievements of their target.

This advert reflects well on the Guardian. The others do not come anywhere close.

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