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Thursday 1 May 2014

Peaches – Murdoch Bang Out Of Order

[Update at end of post]

Y’know, once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, the Times was the country’s premier paper of record. It sat far above lesser titles like the Telegraph in the public’s esteem. It was the true gold standard of journalism. What was printed in its pages, as Dubya Bush might have said, you could take to the bank. Then one day, the Times was sold to Rupert Murdoch.
Yes you, ya bladdy drongo

And so began the slow and certain decline of this once great paper, until today the Times is just another partisan right-leaning repository of tat. Well-written tat, of that there is no doubt, and tat printed using that same Times New Roman typeface, but tat all the same. For those who may have doubted this sad reality, this morning’s edition of the once great Thunderer will put them straight.
All the news that's not fit to print

What is the centrepiece of this upstanding, erudite, highbrow publication’s offering this fine day? It is, let us not drive this one around the houses for too long, an act of blatant intrusion into the grief suffered by the family of a now dead 25 year old mother of two. A large photo and the caption “Peaches Geldof died of heroin overdose” is all you need to know about how far the Times has fallen.
Spot the difference ... first edition of the Sun ...

There is, as yet, no confirmation of this claim, as the expected announcement of toxicology tests at the inquest will not come until later today. But Times hacks could not bear to pass up the chance of scoring a few more sales, and so any idea of showing the scantest of respect to this young woman’s memory was, along with adherence to the PCC code, sent straight out of the window.
... and the second edition

And that this disease has infected the rest of the Dirty Digger’s repellent media cesspit has been confirmed as the Sun’s original front page – an exclusive about missing children featuring Kate McCann – has been revised so that readers can be told “Peaches: It Was Heroin”. So that’s millions more who don’t need to know, but have it rammed down their throats anyway.

The obsession of the Fourth Estate with celebrity is one of those things that has gained acceptance, as papers become ever more desperate to keep up sales, despite the actual journalism on offer declining over time in favour of advertorial, astroturfing, and the plainly incestuous lifting of everyone else’s copy, being the means of filling pages and satisfying advertisers.

But the obsession of the Murdoch press is infinitely creepier: not just slebs, but dead slebs. This is not the first instance: not long ago the Sun carried its infamous Reeva Steenkamp “Phwoarr, she’s hot – and she’s dead” front page. There is no possible justification for such stories. Any editor with a shred of principle would not touch them with the proverbial bargepole. So what the hell is the Times playing at?

This is bang out of order. But what is worse is that it will keep on happening.

[UPDATE 1520 hours: now that the news which the Times reported prematurely has been released, there is a further problem for Rupe's supposedly upmarket troops: what has been said does not match what they have published.

As the BBC has reported, "At a brief inquest in Gravesend, Det Ch Insp Paul Fotheringham, told the hearing: 'Recent use of heroin and the levels identified were likely to have played a role in her death'." That is not the same thing as an overdose having definitely caused it.

She had the drug in her system. But that does not justify the headline, on top of the insensitive and premature release of the story just to make a fast buck. This is dreadfully bad journalism - end of story]


Amanda Kendal said...

"But Times hacks could not bear to pass up the chance of scoring a few more sales ..."

And therein lies a large part of the problem.

We could do 'chicken or egg' all day, but the unpleasant fact remains that a portion of the public buys this sort of voyeuristic copy and thus buys the copies.

The dumbing-down of so much news media has been able to occur because of this.

Ceebs said...

I don't get the Chicken/egg argument, "we have to provide trash because a proportion of the public buys it" might make sense if there was a proportion not providing it.

The dumbing down has been a conscious choice of owners and editors, and pushing the responsibility to readers is very much a "the big boys made me do it" school of argument