That our free and fearless press had not finished with former Love Island host Caroline Flack was demonstrated in the rash of stories that many titles ran immediately after the news of her death emerged last Saturday, while at the same time trying to persuade those at whom the stories were targeted to believe It Was Social Media Wot Done It.
This failed miserably, despite the efforts of hacks from the Sun and Mail pushing the same talking point. As Mic Wright pointed out when Sarah “Vain” Vine attempted the deflection, “MailOnline has published 16 stories about Caroline Flack since her death was announced. It had published 25+ stories about her since the new year. But yes, it was ‘trial by social media’”. And soon the Mail website was going further.
How much further? Er, how about Australia? “Caroline Flack's ex-fiancé Andrew Brady looks downcast as he reads his phone in Australia hours after the star took her own life in London” proclaimed Mail Online on Sunday [no link will be provided, sorry], with the by-line of “Mail Online Reporter” suggesting that no-one in the Northcliffe House bunker was prepared to have their name linked with such invasive and gratuitous copy.
James Felton: “roll up and get your creepshots, we’ve got creepshots of some mourning, we’ve got upskirts of the grieving process only on The Daily Mail, get them whilst they’re fresh”. Matt Haig asked “Imagine being the photographer, crouching amid bushes, taking those shots of a grieving man. Imagine being the picture editor who commissioned this invasion of private misery. Have they no other jobs they could do in life?”
That last is probably another QTWTAIN. And yesterday it got worse. A lot worse. Once more it was the Mail website gathering clickbait, this time with “Inside Caroline Flack's flat: Photos reveal interior of tragic Love Island star's £3,000-a-month London apartment where she spent her final days” [no link will be provided here, either].
Who needs to look at a dead person’s flat? Moreover, who gives a flying foxtrot how much it cost her to rent? James Mitchinson, the increasingly well-regarded editor of the Yorkshire Post, cautioned “Don’t click the ‘inside [Caroline Flack]‘s flat’ story. Not even to bring it on here to batter it. Do. Not. Click. It. It’s a grotesque violation of her family’s grieving process. The kind of ‘journalism’ that ruins lives”. Dawn Foster was on the same page.
“Also without clicking, breaching multiple points of the Samaritans code, so very knowingly risking a spike in suicide attempts, as well as hurting her loved ones”. The Mail titles and their website should know that. The management probably do. But clicks. More clicks.
Matt Jukes of Hull City Council asked Mitchinson how this kind of intrusive content could be stopped. “James O’Brien and I debated this earlier. If the platforms won’t take responsibility then all we can do is: lobby advertisers to place with trusted media brands that do not do gutter ‘journalism’ … educate readers - ‘click-positive’ … lobby MPs to help … be better than them!”. And Andrew Strohlein had a warning for those clicking.
“When you click on outrage bait, you vote for more of the same. When you share a link to it, you encourage others to vote for it. Editors count the clicks to gauge what works and then give you more of that in future. Top liars are attention seekers exploiting this poisoned system”. There is one message to take away from this - don’t click Mail Online.
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