Battle of the headlines: Daily Mail 0 – 1 Taxpayers Alliance

August 1st, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

The Taxpayers Alliance have outdone the Daily Mail with a misleading headline.

The Mail reports…

Council that made 1,400 redundant blew £220,000 broadcasting all of their meetings online – but only picked up 57 viewers

This is, by Daily Mail standards quite accurate. The story itself contains more details of the viewing figures for Hampshire County Councils web broadcasts of it’s meetings, starting with 800 viewers in February, when the council had it’s budget, a cabinet meeting in April picked up 167 viewers and 108 viewers in May. The 57 viewers watched the July broadcast.

This detail is contained in the middle of the story, rather than in paragraph 19.

In all, the Mail seems to have done not bad, by their usual standards.

By contrast though, the TPA picked up the story from the Mail and includes the same details but their headline, in an effort to spin it more to their favour, go with

Hampshire Council spent £223,000 filming meetings for just 57 viewers

Not content with running a council down for trying to make their meetings more accessable, and reporting on what does initially look like rather a high figure for this (but what do I know?), the TPA use a headline that make it look like the council have spent £223,000 to broadcast specifically to 57 people, and not to anyone that might want to see what goes on in a council meeting.

Hampshire county council has a population (.pdf) of approximately 1.76 million people with just under 25% of it 19 years or under. so that’s potentially about 1.3 million adults that could tune in. Obviously that’s not going to happen or get anywhere near that, but the potential for a much bigger audience than 57, or even the peak of 800, was there.

But no, the TPA headline makes it look like the council were aiming for just the 57 viewers.

The Daily Mail receives a letter from a lawyer

November 14th, 2011 § 2 comments § permalink

This (.pdf) is one of the most pleasant things I’ve read in a long time…

Florida based celebrity photo agency Mavrix have filed suit against the British newspaper for multiple copyright infringements, and are seeking statutory damages of $150,000 per infringement. With up to 10 images involved the total sought comes to $1.5m plus attorney’s fees and “any such other and further relief as the Court may deem just and appropriate”.

In court documents Mavrix accuse the Mail of “a pattern and practice of intellectual property piracy”:

“One of the Daily Mail employees who Mavrix interacted in the past regarding Mavrix images was Elliot Wagland, the Daily Mail Online Picture Editor. Defendants with Mr. Wagland’s assistance have a history of copyright piracy conduct. Indeed, the pattern and practice of Defendants is to ignore the demand of photo agencies or photographers to agree to rates before use and to simply take the pictures and use them without compensation or to then offer token compensation.”

h/t @waxnip

Daily Mail accepts Winterval is a myth

November 8th, 2011 § 3 comments § permalink

The Daily Mail has suprised everyone this morning by, steady yourself, admitting winterval is a myth

We stated in an article on 26 September that Christmas has been renamed in various places Winterval.

Winterval was the collective name for a season of public events, both religious and secular, which took place in Birmingham in 1997 and 1998.

We are happy to make clear that Winterval did not rename or replace Christmas.

Dave Cross a written a few words that doesn’t need me adding to it, except to ask, can we get the Mail to admit Christianity is a myth?

I must also add that Kevin Arscott and his paper The Winterval Myth had a big part to play in this.

Ban the Balloon!

October 23rd, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

The dreaded EU has struck again…

Under the rules, children under the age of eight are no longer allowed to blow up balloons, if they are unsupervised.

Teddys have to be washable, too. Not only that but ‘scratch and sniff’ has been banned because they contain, yes, chemicals!

Something has been banned because of chemicals? Yes, it’s the Daily Mail again.

Party blowers – which unscroll when blown – are categorised as unsafe for under-14s under rules governing toys that children put in their mouths. EU officials claim bits of blower could come off and cause choking. They can no longer be sold unless they pass strict new tests.

Some children’s musical instruments, such as recorders and whistles, are also banned because they may come apart and pieces of them could be swallowed.

How dare they ban toys that could come apart in childrens mouths and choke them to death. I’ve choked to death more than once as a kid. Never did me any harm. In fact I got sent to my room with a clip round the ear for being so stupid. Made me the man I am today, it did.

The Mail does add a single line which justifies this measure…

This measure follows cases where children have swallowed small magnets which have then disintegrated and pulled intestines together, causing severe injuries.

Teh Telegraph (h/t does an equally rabid report on the banning of children children being able to live life on the edge complete with a quote from an EU official that, to me at least, doesn’t read like a real quote…

Another EU official admitted that the new regulations could be difficult to understand but insisted that safety experts knew best.

“You might say that small children have been blowing up balloons for generations, but not anymore and they will be safer for it,” said an official.

But in the end, balloons and shit haven’t been banned and these regs aren’t new

Several newspapers have claimed that “Brussels” has imposed new rules on the UK banning children from blowing up balloons or using party whistles. This is wholly untrue.

EU legislation on toy safety aims to protect young children from death and injury and reflects expert medical advice – and simple common sense.

Balloons and other toys placed in the mouth can and do cause death and injury.

The EU rules referred to date from 1988. They state that ballons made of latex must carry a warning to parents that children under eight years should be supervised. Stronger plastic ballons do not need to carry this warning.

They also state that all toys aimed at children under three should be large enough to prevent them being swallowed.

The Child Accident Prevention Trust says that each year, in the UK, over 15,000 children under five and a further 10,000 children aged between 5 and 14 are treated at accident and emergency units after choking. Only half these incidents involve food.

US research by the Consumer Product Safety Commission shows that ” Of all children’s products, balloons are the leading cause of suffocation death”. So similar rules exist in the US.

So what’s so unreasonable about these regs, again? Regulations that are so draconian that other countries independent of the EU have similar ones?

Oh, yeah, their ‘imposed’ on us from those bloody Europeans.


“A source said…”

October 4th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Everyone fucks up. You do, I do. Everyone does sometime or other. We either say the wrong thing, misunderstand something or as happened tonight at several newspapers, press the wrong button.

Amanda Knox won her appeal against her conviction for the murder of Meredith Kercher. Several papers, as the verdict was given, published their stories. The problem was that they jumped the gun a little and published stories about Knoxs’ conviction standing. The Sun did it. The Guardian did it.

Knox was found guilty of slander against a bar (or was it a hotel) owner she accused of the murder, and it was this guilty verdict declared by the judge that these papers hit the big red ‘publish’ button on. Ooops!

All three papers corrected themselves pretty quickly, as you can imagine, and in itself isn’t a problem.

Since the beginning of time, newspapers have always raced to get the story out first. On an occasion such as this, the newsdesk will have written two stories. One for a ‘guilty’ verdict and one for an ‘innocent’. In their rush to be first, these papers fucked up and published the wrong story.

That might’ve been that last of it, apart from a lil’ bit of ribbing on Twitter.

What this mistake has done, however was call into question, again, the use of anonymous sources and how can we be sure someone actually did say what the paper says was said?

You see not only did the Mail publish their story about Amanda Knox staying locked up, they also included in it quotes from one of the prosecutors team that were made up

Prosecutors were delighted with the verdict and said that ‘justice has been done’ although they said on a ‘human factor it was sad two young people would be spending years in jail’.

This quote along with other details such as…

Following the verdict Knox and Sollecito were taken out of court escorted by prison guards and into a waiting van which took her back to her cell at Capanne jail near Perugia and him to Terni jail, 60 miles away.

…are complete fabrications thought up by someone in London.

Now, we all suspect that these nameless ‘sources’, ‘insiders’, ‘someone close to…’ and ‘…who wished to remain anonymous…’ are sometimes made up, only real in the head of the reporter or editor, but because of the presses right not to reveal their sources it is extremely hard to pin down the actual source of a quote.

There is one little difference between this nameless source and the usual anonymuos quote: There is a tracability to the false quote. The quotes aren’t quite anonymous.

The prosecutor is Giuliano Mignini. There is your starting point. I’m sure a better blogger then me, or even a proper journalist, could get an official denial/confirmation from him.

But what of this big fat lie? Well, the Press Complaints Commission are unlikely to do anything. The story was written in advance and published by mistake and quickly taken down again. It was never put into print for there to be any need of a correction and the amount of people who would’ve actually seen the article would be relatively small. As far as the PCC would be concerned, there is nothing for them to do.

What it shows is that the Daily Mail is prepared to lie about a fairly big thing. With a path to be able to fact check it’s quotes from a major player in the story.

If the Mail feels it can make up a massive part of it’s story with made up quotes from one of the major people in an event, then what about the smaller stories, the ones that feed the papers agenda?

Is the Mail really going to go to the trouble of getting a quote from Joe Bloggs who’s been passed over for a council house in favour of a Somali pirate seeking asylum or because of the equalities commission isn’t allowing him to call a lesbian a dyke in his office or are they just going to print what Paul Dacre thinks and attribute it to “someone close to Mr Bloggs”?

The Mail fucked up. They made a mistake anyone could’ve done, but with that mistake they’ve revealed so much about the dishonest way they conduct business.

Daily Mail coughs up

September 3rd, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

I recently posted about the Daily Mail infringing copyright whilst crying about someone infringing theirs.

So, I suppose I had better post about the conclusion too. Here’s a post from the blog of the Open Rights Group

We’ve just received a cheque for £1,000 from the Daily Mail’s publishers, after they admitted publishing photos from Alice in Wonderland blog without permission. The photos featured ultra-skinny mannequins. The Daily Mail had asked Alice for permission, but refused her £250 fee (given to a charity of her choice).

“I don’t like the Daily Mail, and didn’t want to give them commercial use of my pictures for free.” she explains.

But they published anyway. Alice wasn’t best pleased at this blatant commercial abuse of her copyright, and demanded they donate a grand to the copyfighters at ORG, alongside MIND. After some excuses, they relented, and today we received their cheque. You can read thefull story on Alice’s blog here.

A massive thank you to Alice for her heroics and the very generous donation!

via DickMandrake

Daily Mail: fuck copyright unless it’s our stuff

August 17th, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

Just as the Daily Mail is taking down for copyright infringement, up pops another story involving the Daily Mail and copyright infringement. This time, the boot is on the other foot…

A few days ago, I snapped a picture in The GAP on Oxford Street: their ALWAYS SKINNY mannequins’ legs are not only always skinny, but anorexically/starved so.

I tweeted it, and TwitPic’d one picture. Then Cory BoingBoing’ed it. Then the WashPo emailed, asking permission to reprint, and asked for a quote or two. I said yes. I sent them a further pic, too.

Then the Daily Mail got in touch. Could we use the photos, they said. I said, yes, if you donate £250 – a standard photo fee in my book, certainly less than what Getty charges, say – to a charity of my choice. I don’t like the Daily Mail, and didn’t want to give them commercial use of my pictures for free.

The Mail said £250 was not within their budget and so wouldn’t be using the photo. I bet you can’t guess what happened next.

Go read the rest of the post and marvel at the hypocrasy of Paul Dacres’ henchmen.

(Thanks to George in my previous post reminding me about this)

Daily Mail takes down

August 16th, 2011 § 5 comments § permalink

The Daily Mail has sent a letter to shutting it down.

I’ve written about istyosty several times and if you’re not a regular reader this post explains what it’s all about.

Anyway, as of now istyosty is no longer cacheing the Mail, the Sun or the Express. If istyosty hadn’t of complied, the Mail would’ve chased for £150,000 per cached article plus legal expenses. They didn’t like the bit on istyostys’ ‘about’ page that detailed how it reduced hits and consequently ad revenue. Just as predicted, the Mails wallet is its’ soft spot.

The Mail also are under the impression that Istyosty is making money off the back of it…

Your deliberate attempt to interfere with Associated o’hits” Newspapers’ ability to get valuable to its website, through the willful infringement of our clientls copyrights, are irreparably damaging to Associated News. Under the law, Associated News is entitled not only to injunctive relief against you, but also is entitled to receive awards of damages, recovery of your ill-gotten profits, and to recover the attorneys’ fees and costs it incurs as a result of your violations of law.
Statutory damages alone may be awarded in the amount of $ 150,000 per work infringed under the U.S. Copyright Act,17 USC $101, et seq.

Istyosty did not use the Mails identifying features, logos etc to advertise itself, the only time they appeared was when a cached page was brought up.

As you can see from this cache of Istyostys’ frontpage, there are no adverts. As Istyostys’ cache process stripped the adverts from the Mails pages there were no adverts on those pages either. No adverts, no income generated.

Anyway, as usual, Istyosty doesn’t have the resources to contest this latest threat from the Mail and so has to close.

A good tool for media watchers, and one that the Mail obviously felt it had to take seriously.

It was good while it lasted. Thank you Istyosty.

The take down notice can be seen here (.pdf), or I have a copy here.

In which I take Huffington Post UK far too seriously about Istyosty and the illiberal liberals that use it

July 21st, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

I have previously written about and with it being one of my more active posts, I thought I would write about it again, thanks to a Patrick Hayes at Huffington Post UK.

Up until recently, the liberal Twitterati have been faced with a dilemma. By tweeting links of Daily Mail and Sun articles to their followers in order to engage in a collective two minute hate against the idiocy of the tabloid press (and their millions of gullible, easily manipulated readers), they end up sending traffic to the despised article and boosting the tabloid’s web traffic and potentially aiding its advertising revenue.

First off, ‘the Liberal Twitterati’. Who’s that then? I’m presuming Patrick means anyone that doesn’t like the bullshit the tabloids come out with. The dilemma, though, is a very real one not just for Twitterers, but for bloggers and anyone that shares links, like bloggers. Bloggers, or good bloggers, link to the source of their information they are sharing or the subject of their posts. This is so that the reader can either check the facts the blogger puts forward or see what the blogger is writing about so that the reader can go and make their own mind up, even if the content of the source is erm, not very savoury. This is something that newspaper websites very rarely do which enables them to put forward articles that can twist the truth or not tell the whole truth or take things out of context. What’s a blogger to do, eh? Link or not link? Let the reader decide for themselves the validity of their facts and opinions or behave like a tabloid?

It’s even argued that the Mail is intentionally using what’s termed ‘flame bait’ to lure liberals to its site, helping it get 10 million hits more than the Guardian’s website each month. This has led to some claiming they’d rather remain in the dark about the content of Daily Mail articles being discussed, because reading them online could make a small contribution to the Mail’s swelling coffers.

That argument about flame bait is not a hard argument to win.

The choice to remain in the dark and hope the Mail withered away is ok for some, but it obviously isn’t doing anything to diminish the Mail in anyway. Others, though, want to call out the lies and the spin and the abusiveness and so in steps the dilemma.

Now a solution has been found. IstyOsty allows you to link to a cached version of a Daily Mail article (alongside other tabloids) that doesn’t display advertising and won’t register as a hit on the website or appear on search engines. IstyOsty claims this process is ‘entirely legal’.

Yay, Istyosty! What a beautiful, elegant solution it is, too.

The website has also been an immediate hit among the Twitterati, who are beginning to childe one another if they link to the actual Daily Mail website. Times columnist Caitlin Moran, for example, was ticked off by TV presenter Lauren Laverne for giving them [the Daily Mail] the ‘click through’ to an article, prompting Moran to respond: ‘Must. Remember. @istyosty.’

I’m presuming Patrick means ‘chide’ as in to scold or express disapproval, as opposed to ‘childe’ which is a disused term for a child of noble birth, and quite right too. I would hardly say it has been an immediate hit, though (no offence Istyosty). I regularly see bloggers and Twitterers not using it, including ones I presume Patrick would include as a Twitterati, like media bloggers. But then how do I know, I have never seen Istyostys’ stats.

When a Twitch Hunt began against Melanie Phillips on Monday for a Mail article she’d penned attacking the BBC, IstyOsty links were widely used with Twitter users imploring others to deprive the ‘Daily Fail’ of ad revenue. As one Tweet said: ‘Dear Twitter, If Melanie Phillips must be linked to, please could it be through the @istyosty safe link? Thanks. :)’ Another suggested, ‘someone needs to design a WW2-style poster reminding people to use istyosty & not direct-link to the Mail.’

Did you read that Phillips article? No? Well, Angry Mob tears it to pieces as it is a proper piece of WTF-ery, and yes, he links to it via istyosty, so I’m guessing he is a Twitterati too.

If you’re going to say that tweeters are scolding each other for not using Istyosty links, the example Patrick gives is a pretty weak one: ‘Dear Twitter’; ‘Please could’; ‘Thanks’. Ooh! Scary. That’s a serious telling off that is.

The embracing of IstyOsty on Twitter reveals much about the mindset of the liberals that use it. As one Twitterer put it, ‘may I commend istyosty to you? A proxy that enables us to point furiously at evil papers without them getting page hits.’

Yeah, great. Someone’s a bit sarcastic but they’ve hit the nail on the head.

At first glance, you might think that the IstyOsty strategy is for the ‘evil’ Daily Mail website and the like to be starved of advertising revenue and being forced to wither away. It would also be understandable to think that in the eyes IstyOsty enthusiasts, the world would be a better place if the Mail and other ‘nasty’ papers ceased to exist and everyone was forced to read the Guardian by default. (Tellingly a request on its website that IstyOsty also covers the Guardian has so far gone unanswered).

I have no idea what Istyostys’ strategy is. You’d have to ask him (he’s @istyosty, if you couldn’t guess). I think it would be a shame if the Mail and the Sun disappeared. Most people don’t want that. Most people realise that a plethora of opinion in the media is A Good Thing, they just want All. The. Bullshit. to stop. There’s nothing wrong with saying that Britain is going to be over run with foreigners in ten years time, or that eating 0.5grams of cheese a week raised your chances of cancer by 35 times or whatever, as long as it is true, or the studies actually suggest it. If you’re gonna write bullshit, or a spiteful column about someone less than a week after their death, then people are gonna call you on it.

But, here’s the rub: In such a world, who would liberals have to ‘point furiously’ at? Their lives would become dull and empty if there weren’t columnists like Melanie Phillips to Twitch Hunt. Even IstyOsty recognises that the Mail plays an important service in allowing liberal Guardian-reading types to feel smug by ‘point[ing] out how ignorant they are’.

Yeah, yeah. Nice one. People are all one dimensional and don’t have other shit to be getting on with except to be outraged by what ever the right wing press are saying. That is so humourous, oh, hang on. That’s not link bait I’ve fallen for is it? Damn.

And what’s wrong with pointing out how ignorant someone is when they’re spewing bile and bullshit?

Of course, their finger-pointing doesn’t just stop at the ‘ignorance’ of writers such as ‘Mad Mel’, Jan Moir and colleagues. It’s also, by extension, aimed at the Mail’s 4.7 million readers. The brainwashed, ill-educated, Beta minus drones who inhabit Middle England and read papers such as the Mail not to feel superior, but to actually get news.

Yes, fingers get pointed at the Mail. Why shouldn’t someone be called out when they’re being ignorant and spewing bullshit? The ‘brainwashed, ill-educated, beta minus drones’ are not a big part of the mails readership though.

As you can see in the screen shot from the Newspaper Marketing Agency

A upper middle class Higher managerial, administrative or professional
B middle class Intermediate managerial, administrative or professional
C1 lower middle class Supervisory or clerical and junior managerial, administrative or professional
C2 skilled working class Skilled manual workers
D working class Semi and unskilled manual workers
E Those at the lowest levels of subsistence Casual or lowest grade workers, pensioners and others who depend on the welfare state for their income

The column on the right is percent of readers.)

As you can see, the Mails readership isn’t really the ill-educated, supposedly easily led, or beta minus folk, is it? And is it news if it’s not actually true, or presented truthfully? No, it’s bullshit.

When, for example, IstyOsty says those who advertise in the Mail are ‘companies who should know better’, it is implicitly saying that companies shouldn’t be spending their cash trying to raise awareness of their products among the poor thickies that read it.

But the vast majority aren’t ‘poor thickies’, are they? The companies should know better. They should know better than to associate themselves and help pay for the poisonous, divisive, hateful output of these papers.

IstyOsty, realistically, is unlikely to make much of dent to the massive number of hits the Daily Mail gets each month. Even if the whole of Islington, Hackney, Haringey and the small handful of other liberal bastions (i.e. the places that voted ‘Yes’ in the AV referendum), decided to switch to IstyOsty en masse. It’s more a way the chattering classes can ensure that the continued success of these ‘evil’ publications is not done in their name. As well as being a convenient way to differentiate themselves from the dunderheaded tabloid-reading masses.


Using an IstyOsty link is like a 21st century Twitter version of a Masonic handshake. It makes it clear you’re one of the Enlightened Ones and not one of them. On the flip side, however, it is an remarkably accurate identifier of members of the contemptuous, intolerant, masses-hating, clique of illiberal liberals who are – worryingly – becoming increasingly influential in shaping British political life today.

That metaphor doesn’t quite work. The Masonic handshake is supposed to be secret. Istyosty works better the more people know of it and use it.

Oh, what a wit Patrick is. ‘Illiberal liberals’ ho ho. Masses hating, heh. Yeah, of course.

Paul Dacre must di…

June 23rd, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

A couple of links.

Angry Mob – Abuse and Defamation

Angry Mob receives a Nasty-O-Gram from the lawyers of Associated Newspapers.

Ministry of Truth – Daily Mail threatens media blogger with libel action over two year old article

Unity casts an over over the blog post in question and the letter sent to the hosting company.

Needless to say, neither the Daily Mail or Paul Dacre, come out smelling of roses.

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