How to write a 'Christmas is under attack' scare story

Okay, imagine you're a tabloid reporter.  No - don't top yourself!  You can go back to being you after.

You're a tabloid reporter, and being a tabloid, your paper loves the 'Christmas is banned' scare stories and all that 'PC Gone mad' rubbish.  You come across a story that could be turned into an 'Oh my god why are they banning Christmas?  Won't somebody think of the children?' scare, but you're aware that it's most probably bollocks.  What do you do?

Bingo!  You write the story anyway!  Just follow this handy template and you're away.
Start with a headline that leaves the readers in no doubt that Christmas is actually, definitely being banned.  Bonus points for mentioning political correctness.  (Don't worry if you can't think of one,  A sub will write you a new one if yours is pony).  Here's a handy exmple:

'Council renames Christmas festival 'Midwinter Celebration' sparking PC row'

Pow!  That's what I'm talking about!  There's a PC row because a council hs renamed the Christmas festival.

Now you need to bed in that impression with a killer opening paragraph.  If you want to start introducing doubt, the opening paragraphs are a good place to do it.  Here's where you can start adding 'could', 'may' or 'some' to give the illusion that the story is balanced.  Of course, you could just dispense with that namby-pamby rubbish and just turn the bullshit cannon up to 11 with something like:
First, there was 'Winterval'. Now a churchman has criticised a council for holding a 'Midwinter celebration' instead of a Christmas event for families.
See, mentioning the most famous Christmas banning story will fool readers into making a connection - get this - even though the famous story itself wasn't true.  Your paper's readers aren't likely to have found that out.

Next, you need to introduce some quotes from people disgusted by the display of Marxist (or Nazi) PC madness.  If you don't have any of these, you can rustle them up by phoning around likely suspects (like MigrationWatch, the Taxpayer's Alliance, the Campaign Against Political Correctness or Philip Davies) and giving them the version of the story you'll be using in your headline and opening paragraphs.  They'll do the rest for you.

If you haven't got any of these, don't worry.  All you need is a story supplied by a lone nutter.  Just quote them and use vague language to make it look as though there are more people.  'Critics' is a good one.  Or:
The Rev Paul Flowers, a councillor and methodist minister, said omitting any mention of Christmas from the clearly festive event was stupid and hurtful.


But bosses now face accusations of being oversensitive to ethnic minorities by keeping the reference to Christmas out of he family event on the last Sunday before Christmas Day.
Ooh.  They 'face accusations'.  The readers don't have to know that the accusations come in one letter from one godsquadder and you're building an entire article around it.  You said 'accusations' plural.

Now, sometimes it's a good idea to pepper these early bits of the article with mentions of what's allowed by 'other faiths'.  These mentions are especially useful in stories about how crucifix necklaces or silver virginity rings are prohibited - you can even ignore the fact that these are parts of general jewellery bans and mention turbans and headscarves if you like.  But if you do wan't to use them in a Christmas story:
The city has a substantial Asian population and the museum has hosted Eid events in the past.


Mr Flowers has written to the culture head at Bradford Council to complain.

He said: 'The museum, of course, has form. In most of the recent years, I can  remember this specific museum organising Eid celebrations - indeed I have  previously applauded the fact that they have done so. 

'So, why, oh why, must they now resort to the stupidity and banality of advertising a bland "Midwinter Celebration" when the season is clearly  Christmas and should be appropriately named as such?' 
Aside from the stupidity that an entire season is Christmas now, that's masterfully done.  It even includes a 'why oh why'.  They had something for Eid, why not Christmas?  (You get bonus points if there actually turns out to have been a Christmas event at this very venue).  I bet they renamed every other event in the month running up to Eid 'Eid' too.  Okay, they probaby didn't.

Now you've got the good bits out of the way, you can include a quote from the council that pretty much proves that everything you've already written is hairy rubbish.  Your readers probably won't get that far and if they do, all the work you've put in up until this point will make the quote look like lies.  You can go as far as a quote as blatant as:
Tony Stephens, assistant director of cultural services at the council, denied ignoring Christmas.

He said: 'We organise and support a wide range of events to celebrate Christmas.

This year we have held a large number of events including the Christmas lights  switch-on, Christmas Carol Concert and a number of Christmas events in our  museums and libraries including the Victorian Christmas Market, Christmas card making workshops and the chance to meet Santa Claus. 

'The Medieval Midwinter event at Bolling Hall was held for the first time last  year after the successful Midsummer event. It is planned to be held on the  weekend nearest to the Midwinter Solstice and celebrates traditional seasonal  activities that are relevant to the history and heritage of the hall and the  communities it supported over many centuries.'
There you go.  The council has held loads of Christmas events.  See that 'Christmas card making workshops and the chance to meet Santa'?  It took place at the venue this article's about - but don't mention that (see the screengrab at the top).  You've just disguised the fact that one god-botherer has written a creepy letter because an event near Christmas isn't called 'Christmas'; and the council haven't renamed anything.  It was called the same thing last year, the first time it ever took place. 

Now your readers think there's some nefarious PC plot against Christmas, when in fact the person being PC is the guy writing letters demanding that a festival be renamed because he's offended.  Hurrah!


Anonymous said...

Strikes me as being wildly out of character for Cllr Flowers (believe it or not, he's a Labour man through and through), though bearing in mind this is the Mail I fail to recognise any of the events that are actually happening here in Bradford from their description.

Jon Davis said...

And they handily miss off the word 'Medieval' from the title of the event, cos that would sort of give the game away that it's obviously an olde worlde solstice type thing.

New Year is called New Year, not Christmas, so a Midwinter solstice celebration is naturally called a Midwinter celebration, and not Christmas. Even though both are quite close to Christmas.

Anonymous said...

I added a comment on this yesterday and got 293 reds for my trouble.

People don't like being told they're idiots and being conned do they?

As an aside, I note they're doing a bit of recycling again. Their main story here...


is probably wrong but just recyles this one from May


LazyJourno said...

Hang on, even the headline is misleading. It's been held once before (last year) and was called 'Medieval Midwinter Celebration', this year it's called, yep you guessed it, the 'Medieval Midwinter Celebration'. So in fact it has never even been a 'Christmas festival' and subsequently nothing has been 'renamed'. It was invented and has retained its name.

Nick Mazonowicz said...

I agree. Those evil PC secularists forcing everyone to change 'Christmas' to 'winter'

They've even rewritten those beautiful Christmas songs 'Walking in a Christmas Wonderland' and 'In The Bleak MidChristmas'

kennyevil said...

This is actually ridiculous, even for the Mail. That headline is proven outright false by the text of the piece. There's absolutely no ambiguity there as the council have not renamed anything.

As much as I'm against the misuse of libel law (ie Trafigura) it seems to me that this would be a case for its intended use.

On the other hand perhaps Bradford Council are just living by that old adage "never piss off anyone who buys ink by the barrel."