Friday, 1 July 2011

A Tragedy Exploited

There are times when I wonder whether I am too prejudiced against the Daily Mail, whether my intense dislike for the paper is justified or dictated by my political standings. Sure it’s at times abhorrently right wing, full of the kind of stories that fit into every stereotype or right wing prejudice and bigotry, but perhaps they are just aware of who their audience is and so are no worse than the 2 million or so people who buy the paper every day.

Then they post a story like this one and I realise that, at an editorial level as well as in terms of individual journalists, they are exactly as disgusting as I think they are. The fact that the Mail are against the public sector strikes that took place yesterday is perfectly understandable, the unions and the right wing press are always going to be in opposition to each other, but to use the tragic death of Sophie, a 13 year old girl to try and aid their political agenda is just sickening.

Several times in the article the author make reference to the fact that the girl wouldn’t have been in the park if it wasn’t for the strike; probably true but also not really relevant, the girl could have been anywhere for any number of reasons and died through a similar tragic accident. The fact is that horrible things happen for no discernible reason to innocent people and to try and twist such an event to suit a particular political attack shows a lack of journalistic awareness and, more worryingly, a lack of basic human decency.

Anyone at The Daily Mail with a working brain should have been able to see that running this story would make them seem callous, petty and thoughtless, and according to the posts I’ve read on twitter a number of the journalists attached to the paper have come out as being opposed to the piece, but it is clear as an institution that the Mail thinks it’s acceptable to exploit a human tragedy like this for their latest political hate campaign.

It feels almost like there are times where the Mail is so focussed on launching vitriolic and hate filled attacks on the people, institutions and occupations that they don’t approve of that they don’t actually take the time to consider whether it’s contextually appropriate or emotionally decent.

Worryingly the Telegraph ran the story under a similar title with the same obnoxious choice of angle, but didn’t make quite as many references to the strike, though their choice of which tribute to lift off of a Facebook page set up to remember the young girl is telling.

I feel sorry for anyone whose brain works in the way whichever of the Mail’s journalists and editors who were involved in this story must work, because it must be a dark, miserable and angry life they lead, but mostly I feel sorry for the parents of Sophie, who while in the grips of a frankly unimaginable tragedy, have seen their daughter’s death used for political point scoring.

As so often before, The Daily Mail should be ashamed of themselves.

I don't really feel posting a song on this blog would be appropriate.

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