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Monday 20 January 2014

Dominic Lawson Epic Journalism Fail

When Dominic Lawson, brother of Domestic Goddess (tm) Nigella and son of Tory Chancellor turned Climate Change denialist Nigel, replaced Melanie “not just Barking but halfway to Upminster” Phillips as the Daily Mail’s regular Monday columnist, the thought entered that this might be a safer pair of hands than the ranting, frothing and occasional legal action-prone Mad Mel.
What's f***ing wrong with my pundits, c***?!?

Sadly, with today’s effort, Dom has shown anyone with the most basic knowledge of the subject in which he is dabbling that he is just as bad as Ms Phillips at opening mouth and inserting boot: “This is the liberal legacy: killing baby girls in the womb, no questions asked” reads the headline. Lawson has read an article in the Independent, and it has told him what he wants to hear.

The Indy’s article is titled “The lost girls: Illegal abortion widely used by some UK ethnic groups to avoid daughters 'has reduced female population by between 1,500 and 4,700'”, and purports to have statistical evidence that female foetuses are being aborted on demand by certain ethnic groups. This enables Lawson to lay into David Steel, who tabled the 1967 Abortion Act. He concluded thus.

How humiliating for those running this vast department of state that a cash-strapped newspaper with a tiny fraction of their resources has dug deeper into the census figures and proved, to quote a lecturer in statistics from Imperial College, London, that ‘the only readily available explanation consistent with a statistically significant gender shift of the sort observed in the census data is gender-selective abortion’”.

How humiliating, also, that a blogger with a tiny fraction of the resources available to the Daily Mail and its legendarily foul mouthed editor had already exposed the Independent article as “A truly epic fail in data journalism” FOUR DAYS before Lawson’s rant was published. Yes, the Indy’s article passed before the inspection of Unity at Ministry of Truth last Thursday.

And he concluded thus: “I am genuinely at a loss to understand exactly what the Independent thinks it’s playing at here as the only halfway plausible explanation I can think of for any of this is that someone at the paper has run across Dubuc and Coleman’s study, failed miserably to understand any of it, least of all the entire methodology section, and then took an utterly half-arsed punt trying to pull off their own similar analysis without realising that they hadn’t got the first clue what they were doing”. So where was Dominic Lawson’s research?

Where his research was, was absent. What we have here is another excellent example of a well-resourced newspaper failing to bother itself with investigative journalism, and instead throwing money at overpaid and lazy columnists.

That results in yet another epic fail in data journalism. No change there, then.

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