Yes yes, hundreds dead blah blah blah. Are any of them British?

Blast from the past
Last year, looking at the Mail's coverage of the Haiti earthquake disaster, I blatted this out:
It's so common in comedy shows that it's a cliche - major disaster happens in foreign country, UK news agencies only take notice if British people are involved. Submit a script with that situation in and someone's bound to say, "Do we need to include that tired joke? It's been done about eight-million times before."
Yes, it's a tired gag, but one that's so accurate. Today's tabloids show this brilliantly. Most papers have included news of Libya and Gadaffi's speech yesterday on their front pages - it is a little bit relevant to the UK, people in countries across the Middle East in revolt against the largely UK-backed oppressive regimes that rule them, with one of the most infamous despots vowing to fight against a revolt that has already killed quite a number of his citizens - but the tabloids have splashed with the headlines that count.

Here's the Mail's view of what's most important:

There are British people there!  Won't somebody think of the British?

And the Express:

Won't somebody think of the UK petrol prices?

And the Sun, which goes with a natural disaster elsewhere in the world:

The 'disater down under' (is it me, or is that just the teensiest bit tacky?) is that 10 British people died.

Finally, the other tabloids' less gifted cousin, the formerly EDL supporting Star:

Ah, the shame of Benefit Britain is that a person on benefits has said exactly what I think about work. How can we live with the embarrassment? I'm sure the world's eyes are on us now. Screw earthquakes and upheaval in the Middle East. Someone on the dole thinks work's boring! If only ritual seppuku were allowed for the whole country, we could take proper action to atone for such disgrace.

Interestingly, there is a little bit there on the Star's front page about the earthquake in New Zealand, it goes with 'Brits' hell as quake kills 300'.

Hey, it was only 10 in the Sun. What gives?

What gives is that there's another 'it's a cliche because it's true' thing that's going on with both papers - tabloids fudge information on their front page to trick you out of your money. The Sun follows its ''10 Brits' dead' headline with '300 missing as frantic response goes on' which could easily be interpreted as meaning 300 Brits are missing. The Star is much worse, managing to imply that 300 Brits are dead while making an outright claim that 300 people have died.

In reality, 300 people in total are missing. 75 are confirmed to have died. The opening couple of sentences in the Sun's story reveal that:
TEN Britons were last night feared to have been killed in New Zealand's devastating earthquake.

One British citizen was confirmed dead this morning...
So, ten Britons feared dead with one actual dead Briton becomes 10 dead Brits on the front page of the Sun and 300 in the Star. Neither manages to include the actual current death toll.

To be fair, why would you want to? 74 of them are foreign.  The Star had much more important news about a person on the dole not much liking work to splash with.

To finish with another clichéed gag - how do you confuse a tabloid journalist? Tell them the Brits involved in an international incident are on benefits.


Anonymous said...

That girl on the front of the Star was the target of a Mail article yesterday. Turns out she gets 800 quid per month on benefits, yes - but 1,200 from her mum, so she's actually just, er, spoilt.

Sporran said...

Ha, typical Daily Express and their target market, still stubbornly talking only in outdated units of measurement...

Anonymous said...

And yet, if your name's Jordan The Star is more than happy to see you paid loads of money for doing, well, very little and nothing of value. By the way, where is Jordan today? Strangely missing from the front page.

Anonymous said...

So, never mind several hundred people dead trying to throw off a harsh dictatorship they've had to suffer for forty years. They, after all are just Arabs (simple, primitive folk on camels). Poor, long suffering Brits may have to PAY A BIT MORE FOR THEIR PETROL!

lushd said...

The Daily Express is nobly pointing out that our cars will be be more expensive to drive because some foreigners have decided to unseat their violent dictator. One can almost here the "Tch"! They are missing their favourite angle on a story (any story) though. There is a Princess Diana link


Dandly said...

I was in the USA in 1998 when the American embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam were bombed. There was extensive television coverage with pictures of the devastation and much hand wringing over the 12 American dead. I did wonder, given the scale of the bombing, if any local people had been hurt, but the issue was never mentioned.
Only when I returned to the UK did I discover that local people had not just been hurt, but that over 200 Kenyans and Tanzanians had been killed. Depressingly, my (mis)information in the US had come from the mainstream networks ABC/NBC/CBS.
‘Ours may be bad’ but others are worse’ is not a defence of our tabloids, but it is worth remembering this is not just a British phenomenon. Perhaps we should be grateful we do, at least, have some news organisations prepared to take a more balanced view of the world.

Dandly said...

On a lighter note....
I was disappointed by the gross inconsistency in the Express headline. Surely they meantion 'Petrol to reach £6 10s a gallon'.

lushd said...

Seen this folks?

A good read from a (former) Star writer