Paul Dacre: He looks as though even he can’t believe the news.
Oh, for goodness’ sake.
Despite the fact that his publication (you can’t call it a newspaper) has attracted more complaints than any other rag, Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre has been named as the chairman of the organisation where, in future, you’ll be making those very complaints.
“The Daily Mail ran a story about “NC” [anonymised by request on June 15, 2020], claiming that she works four jobs/35 hours per week, and is £400 a month worse off than she would be if she received disability benefit. Online Bloggers found inconsistencies about this report and blogged about it.
“After writing a blog on this issue, Black Triangle received an email from their hosting company, Orange, informing them that their website is suspended until “… any pages referring to NC the person. This is a breach of privacy laws displaying photos without permission. Your account is suspended until you make contact and change this.”
“With the website suspended, Black Triangle simply could NOT gain access to their website to edit any of their website. Since then, it has been made clear to BlackTriangle that Orange – their hosting company – has received a ‘cease and desist’ letter from the lawyers involved in this case.
“Black Triangle’s website has now back online after Orange allowed access to the Black Triangle webmaster to remove the offending article but this shows how low the right-winged press will go to continue their attacks on the disabled community in the UK.”
Anyone concerned with free speech should be furious about this. Just because the Daily Mail has money and influence with Orange, it was able to silence another news source that was exercising its right to provide a fair comment on an issue.
It seems that Black Triangle had found inaccuracies in the Daily Mail story, which indicates that the site was right to criticise the ‘newspaper’ in its article.
The Mail habitually escapes with many infringements of Press Complaints Commission rules, apparently because the PCC is dominated by Daily Mail personnel – Paul Dacre, the Mail’s editor, sits on the PressBoF committee that dominates the PCC and also chairs the Editors’ Code Committee. Meanwhile, one of the three directors of the company that owns both the PCC and its planned successor, IPSO, is Peter Wright, editor emeritus at the Mail group.
A large amount of effort goes into making the Mail look respectable, every day.
Cast your mind back to October last year and you may remember the big controversy was the way the Daily Mail shot off its (metaphorical) mouth about Labour leader Ed Miliband’s father in spectacular fashion – and spectacularly shot itself in the foot by doing so.
Yesterday, the Press Complaints Commission released its monthly complaint summary for January 2014. The PCC is dominated by Daily Mail personnel – Paul Dacre, the Mail’s editor, sits on the PressBoF committee that dominates the PCC and also chairs the Editors’ Code Committee. Meanwhile, one of the three directors of the company that owns both the PCC and its planned successor, IPSO, is Peter Wright, editor emeritus at the Mail group – so it should be no surprise that the most interesting part of the report was tucked away at the end.
This was an acknowledgement that the PCC had received no less than 14 complaints from third parties (people not involved in the story) about the Ralph Miliband article, ‘The Man Who Hated Britain’. In its summary, Inforrm’s Blog stated: “We suspect this was one of the most complained-about stories of the last 12 months or so, but of course that’s not really clear from the PCC data.”
Thanks to the number-crunchers at Inforrm, we can see that the Daily Mail incurred 12 breaches of the Editors’ Code – more than double the five incurred by its nearest rival: The Mail on Sunday.
That’s right. Mail Group newspapers dominate the table with 53.1 per cent of the total number of breaches recorded against national newspapers and large regionals.
But it seems Inforrm is right to say the PCC exists “mainly to protect [its] paymasters from censure, keeping the public at arms length with a cynical strategy of ‘complaint’ fatigue’, that means Code breaches are not properly recorded and adjudications are avoided at all costs”. All the complaints against the Mail were said to have been resolved away with sufficient remedial action.
We learn two things from this:
The Press Complaints Commission is worse than useless at policing the UK’s print media.
The reading public is nowhere near as stupid as the Mail‘s bosses would like to think. People of all political persuasions genuinely despised the Mail for its treatment of Mr Miliband. Former Conservative cabinet minister John Moore said: “The Daily Mail is telling lies about a good man who I knew. The people of this country are good and decent too. They do not want the Daily Mail attacking the dead relatives of politicians to make political points.”
Computer illiterate: The government is forcing people to claim benefits and search for jobs online – and then claiming that they are “flocking” to it of their own free will.
We seem to be going through another period of closely scrutinising the practices of the press, in the wake of Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre’s reprehensible treatment of Ralph Miliband (and others) in the pages of the Rothermere Rag.
Let us take a moment to remember that most articles that are published in newspapers are not actually generated by their editors (even in right-wing, attempted-mind-control efforts like the Mail and the Murdoch pulps); many originate as press releases from outside sources, including the government.
This brings us to that great bastion of honesty and truthfulness – and how to hide it – the Department for Work and Pensions’ press office.
This organisation’s latest effort is entitled Jobseekers embrace digital revolutionand has about as much to do with making jobseeking easier in 21st century Britain as I have with cock-fighting in 19th-century America.
“The way people claim benefits is being revolutionised with the proportion of claims made online more than doubling in a year – saving taxpayers money and paving the way for the introduction of Universal Credit,” the release begins. This may be true, but is it being presented in a truthful manner?
Isn’t it more accurate to say that the DWP has demanded that more benefit claims must be made online, making it more difficult for jobseekers who do not have their own computers, who are not computer-literate, or who do not live in areas with high-quality internet access to make any kind of claim at all?
And “paving the way for the introduction of Universal Credit” seems a misrepresentation as well. Wasn’t UC supposed to have been introduced in April this year, but has been delayed because of problems with the software that is supposed to get several computer systems communicating together?
To act as spokesman for the announcement, Employment Minister Mark Hoban is wheeled out. He’s the one who has admitted that he doesn’t understand how any of the benefit system works, so how is he supposed to have any kind of grip on what’s happening online?
“Employment Minister Mark Hoban has hailed the dramatic rise in online claims as the digital revolution in action. In August 2011 only around 1 in 10 people claimed online; that increased to 3 in 10 in August 2012 – and a year later this has rocketed to 8 in 10.”
In fact, it is true that much of this would have happened as part of the continuing revolution the Net is bringing to people’s lives. For many, online claiming will now be much easier than sending off for a paper claim form, and there isn’t anything wrong with that. The problem is the way this is being pushed as the future when it is a future that still excludes a small but significant proportion of the population. Online claiming discriminates against some people – why is the DWP so relaxed about that? Because it wants to prevent people from claiming?
Now for an outright lie: “Jobseekers are also increasingly finding jobs online – the government’s new jobsite, Universal Jobmatch, which automatically matches people’s skills to a job which suits them, is now receiving more than 5 million searches every day.”
So much about that paragraph is wrong. People aren’t finding that many jobs online because Universal Jobmatch is riddled with errors and – let’s be honest – crime! The scandals have been racking up ever since it was introduced late last year – fake job ads that are actually phishing scams, intended to get jobseekers to part with their bank account details; ‘opportunities’ that actually seduce young women into working in the sex industry; job ads that demand money from applicants before they may be considered for positions that (most likely) don’t exist.
So why is UJM receiving more than five million searches every day? Answer: because Job Centre employees keep telling people that using it is mandatory – even though it isn’t; this is a lie – and they must not only spend huge amounts of time using it but must apply for something like three jobs a week in order to avoid having their benefits sanctioned.
Then there’s the rarity of updates. One user complained to yr obdt srvt that no new jobs have been added to the system for the last three weeks – but he is still expected to apply for three jobs a week. How is that supposed to work?
Under those conditions, it’s not quite such an achievement, is it? It’s more like blackmail, intimidation with threats.
And, let’s not forget – searching for jobs is not the same as getting jobs.
“Mark Hoban, Employment Minister said: ‘The modern world is digital. Many employers only advertise vacancies online, and most want their new recruits to have IT skills. So it is vital that we support jobseekers to develop the skills they need.'”
Hang on – what? How does forcing people to apply for jobs, using a discredited system, count as support to develop skills? It doesn’t. Also, while it may be true that many employers now only advertise online, it is also true that many of those vacancies – if not most of them – do not appear on UJM and it is therefore more of a liability than an asset.
“‘These figures show that our efforts are paying off, with jobseekers flocking to use Universal Jobmatch and 80% embracing the opportunity to manage their benefits online. People are showing us that they are ready for the digital shift that Universal Credit will bring.'”
No, they’re not. He – or at least whoever told him to say those words – is deliberately confusing a system that forces people to carry out certain tasks with one to which they come willingly. The latter would suggest that they are ready for the “digital shift” he describes; the former – what we are seeing – shows us that people are being forced to use a flawed system against their better judgement in order to allow a lying government to justify its next crime against the poor and unwaged.
“The focus on online services is part of a cultural change in how people will interact with the welfare state and is an essential part of Universal Credit. The new benefit is claimed and interacted with online.”
That’s right. And woe betide any poor soul who doesn’t have the ability to do this.
“As well as being more convenient for claimants, this digital push better prepares them for the world of work, where digital skills are increasingly required.”
No it doesn’t, for reasons already stated.
This kind of propaganda is bread and butter for the press. The current squeeze on newspaper profits means that more and more papers are employing fewer and fewer reporters – and those who get jobs aren’t likely to have been properly trained (we’re more expensive, you see). Therefore, reporters’ time is at a premium and press releases are a quick and easy way to fill papers. Most don’t get a spelling check, let alone a fact check.
And that is how a lot of inaccurate information gets downloaded straight into the brains of an accepting readership.
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