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Sunday 7 June 2015

Daily Mail Kos Consequences

You have to admire the sheer brass neck of the Daily Mail: first they make the Greek holiday island of Kos look like some kind of third world hellhole, then they feign shock and outrage that the British public, having been spun this ridiculous pile of misinformation, decides that it wants to holiday in the Greek islands, but not that one. And, as so often, the hacks who write the knocking copy are long gone when the shit hits the fan.
Kos Town

As Zelo Street has told, the Mail’s shame began with an article on May 28, under the by-line of “Mail Online Reporter” - perhaps nobody would volunteer to be named - making some remarkably creative suggestions, such as linking the arrival of refugees in Kos Town with the suggestion that the tourist resort of Kardamena - which is many miles away - was in danger of being overrun by people who were looking only to get to the Greek mainland.

This was followed by someone actually visiting the island, although any hope for accuracy was dashed by that person being notorious migrant-basher Sue Reid, who was yet more creative, warning Mail readers that the refugees were invoking their human rights, which means they would soon be overrunning the UK and claiming benefits. Not surprisingly, the name of the free and fearless UK press is now mud on Kos.

So when Tracy McVeigh of the Observer, a paper which does not decide what the reader will be told until the reporter files their copy, visited Kos, the scene was rather more nuanced than that painted by the Mail. What was also clear was that, by local estimates, tourism in some areas was down by more than 25% on last year on an island whose economy is heavily dependent on visitors.

The Mail claimed 300 a day were arriving. Ms McVeigh, though, saw rather less: “On Friday around 120, on Saturday 60, are led to what the police call the ‘camp’ … The Captain Elias Hotel is just a shell, deserted during the economic slump. Before Easter local volunteers came in answer to a call from the mayor of Kos to clean the building and install standpipes for water”. Again, reality and Mail are different.

A customs officer tells her “Most are well-educated, not like me with my bad English … The most we have had in one day is 500, but more likely 100, less”, while a port security guard asks “Why do the British papers say the things they have said? It will destroy us if the tourists stop coming. Already we are 27% down for the month. These people don’t make trouble. They stay a few days and are gone. These people are quiet and friendly and just escaping war”. Just what that war entails was made clear to readers.

Coming off the police launch on Friday was a Syrian teacher, Mohamad al-Shamali. He showed photographs on his phone of the street he had left behind in Aleppo, all rubble and bloodstains and bombed-out cars”. Paul Dacre and his obedient hacks don’t even have to think about that. Nor do their readers. Nor do they care that “In the week after the article, holiday website Trivago reported a 52% drop in searches for Kos”.

The Mail just wrote that up and framed it as if the refugees were responsible. Their copy has consequences. The real tragedy is that someone else has to suffer them.


Anonymous said...

You mention "shame". That emotion is completely unknown to the Purple-Faced Editor.

rob said...

"You mention "shame" You called?

The Mail messed up when reporting from Greece
Ain't that a shame
Immigrants are their life's bain
Ain't that a shame
Kos they got it wrong again

You made it all up when you broke the news
Ain't that a shame
Lie and cheat is your game
Ain't that your shame
You're the one to blame

Anonymous said...

Last week ITV had a half hour programme about this issue. I doubt that increased enquiries for holidays to Kos. Of course there are bigger issues in Greece which are also putting travellers off.