Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Mail Group Paper in Made Up Racism Shocker

Like most local newspapers, Stoke's The Sentinel has a tendency to fill its pages with any old crap - cats stuck up trees, dads on charity runs, you get the picture. But since the old media has gone into decline, costs have been cut, churnalism rules the roost, and standards are on a slippery slope (of course, being part of the Daily Mail owned Northcliffe Media Group these were nothing to write home about in the first place).

With this in mind there was more than a whiff of BS when this story made the front page on Monday's edition:
ANGRY mum Sam Fardon says her toddler son was ordered off a bus – because the driver found his England shirt "offensive"!

Two-year-old Dylan Hall was with his mum and baby brother Adam, aged 10 weeks, when they were told to leave the 34A service from Newcastle Bus Station.

Miss Fardon says it was only after other passengers intervened that they were allowed on to the bus.

The 27-year-old, from Trent Vale, left with Dylan, said: "As we got on the bus, my two-year-old son had an England shirt on and the bus driver, who had an Eastern European accent, said he found it offensive.

"He said, 'he won't be wearing that during the World Cup, will he'? I said Dylan would and the bus driver said: 'I find that really offensive'. I couldn't believe it.

"He said we'd have to get off the bus but I argued with him and other passengers backed me up, so he let us on.

"I think it's disgraceful. I had baby Adam with me as well, luckily he wasn't wearing his England baby-grow."
This is just the sort of story the press love. It was picked up by The Mail (of course!), The Mirror, The Sun and dozens of bulletin boards and Facebook groups, including our knuckle headed friends over at Stormfront.

There's one slight problem. The story is completely untrue.

First Buses have put out this press release comprehensively debunking the story. Some might say First was bound to say that - and admittedly AVPS unlikely to take the protestations of any private company at face value. But in mitigation it turns out the "victim", Sam Fardon, has form. In 2004 Fardon was convicted for a series of deceptions that involved pilfering the bank account of a couple of Good Samaritans who took her in.

What she hoped to achieve by starring in a "political correctness gone mad" story is anyone's guess. But for The Sentinel to forgo basic fact checking and produce a puff piece that benefits no one but Stoke BNP is pathetic, sickening, and deserves total condemnation.


Anonymous said...

It was also in yesterday's Metro (owned by Associated Newspapers, part of Daily Mail & General Trust, and a partner in the cross-DM&GT/Northcliffe picture & story database and intranet systems).

Locally the Bristol Evening Post (Northcliffe) ran a story not that long ago about a breastfeeding woman thrown off a bus during a downpour by a recalcitrant First driver. Again, it turned out to have been made up, though not before it was picked up by the nationals.

Lawrence Shaw said...

One person just claims something has happened and it is taken as the gospel truth, without any other witnesses or evidence to back it up, and this is produced as news.

Sadly, this happens a lot, and has done for many years.

You are right to an extent that Northcliffe have a history of running inflammatory and reactionary news items, but to be honest all of the media companies are now guilty of that to one degree or another.

The root cause of this kind of thing is the total lack of investment in newspapers by the small cabal of parent companies that control our regional and national media.

They rape the titles for profit by cutting and cutting on journalism costs. This doesn't mean just numbers of people - it also means the amount spent on training new journalists and the amount of time journalists are allowed to spend cultivating contacts and finding out real news stories.

I know first hand what pressure the journalists at the Sentinel and other local papers are under, and that is that they are tied to the office and told to fill the pages as quickly and cheaply as they can. I cover dozens of newspapers for the NUJ in the north and midlands, are journalists everywhere are racking up unpaid overtime across the board.

So when a nutter rings up with an easy headline like this, it is often a godsend as it fills a page...

To be fair to The Sentinel, they have printed the follow-up story from the bus company debunking the original story.

The same cannot be said for the Daily Hate Mail which has printed the original story as truth, got the inevitable dozens of "blood boiling" comments from the bedroom internet mafia, and that is the end of it as far as they are concerned. ..far more sinister in my opinion.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Next thing you'll know, they'll be banning Christmas...

Mark Walmsley said...

Thanks for explaining this Phil. I regularly read the front page of the Sentinel and about once a week something inside of me dies, knowing I should get to the bottom of it.

Of course I read in the First press release:

Far from banning England shirts on our buses First is fully supportive of England's World Cup campaign and we are, in fact, currently fitting good luck banners featuring England flags on all our buses in England."

...and another part of me dies.

SamG said...

“But for The Sentinel to forgo basic fact checking and produce a puff piece that benefits no one… pathetic, sickening, and deserves total condemnation.”

There’s a lot of that about at the moment!

See here:

Phil said...

How my sides split when I read that.

James Bloodworth said...

Great piece. Rumors of this sort and those who invent them deserve nothing but our contempt. I've been arguing with the brain-dead all week about this being total fiction; and there are a plethora of facebook groups using the issue as an excuse for spewing out vile racism.

And, on a more serious note, I wonder if the perpetrator of this "story", or indeed those who ran it, will feel any twinge of reponsibility should there be any attacks on ethnic minorities if (perhaps more realistically when) England go out of the World Cup due to the supposed way their patriotism has been "threatened". There's some very nasty stuff swilling around.

denepher said...

This time the lie was spotted and outed before much damage was done, what when the lie is believed and a person's life and that of the family totally destroyed by it?

Imatrot said...

funny how you also got caught in the media spin (lies) of the SWP smashing the BA negotiations. Maybe it is a symptom of wantin to believe anything as long as it backs up your prejudices, immigrants and 'political correctness' for the Daily Mail and the SWP is shit on behalf of yourself.

Phil said...

Excuse me if my initial interpretation scant hours after the action was not 100% correct. But if I was thinking that at the time, you can bet millions of other who saw it thought the same.

Imatrot said...

Sorry not good enough. The fact that you were so willing to lay down scorn after hearing a few facts 'a scant hours' after is a disgrace. Most good comrades would be willing to wait until the facts became clearer before passing judement. The fact that the blogosphere (sorry please don't confuse that with the 'millions') couldn't, shows the paucity of intellect on the British left and the glut of sharp knifes willing to be thrust into peoples backs.

Phil said...

Don't be silly - you forget this stupidity was splashed all over the broadcast media and press, so yes, millions would have seen it and have been completely bemused by it.

Left blogs are are a barometer of the labour movement - as a whole they reflect real strands of opinion that exist. So when practically every writer outside of the sectarian bubble the SWP inhabits is critical, if you and your comrades had any sense you would listen and learn. But you won't. You'll carry on buggering up campaigns and struggles as per.