Daily Hate By Our Daily Newspapers

Daily Hate By Our Daily Newspapers


Well good afternoon everybody. My name is Jon Danzig. I’m a journalist. And a bit of a troublemaker actually, not just an ordinary journalist. I’ve been a campaigning journalist all my life. You can get off the phone, please. Sorry about that, but I need your full attention. because I want to talk to you about a problem and this is the problem Here. Because this problem actually undermines all we’re trying to achieve with fair rights for immigrants and human rights because every day these newspapers are undermining human rights. They’re demeaning immigration and immigrants and they give our political masters the opportunity to pass laws that people will accept because they are giving mistruths. And through that misunderstanding, we end up with the society that we do. Not a healthy society. I’ll tell you what I’m going to do today I’m going to explain to you some of the history of how we’ve ended up here and also, how I’ve tried to tackle some of these problems, and what I feel we can do in the future to try and end on a positive note. And I want to talk about the Daily Mail particularly because lately I’ve had a bit of a fight with the Daily Mail. The Daily Mail was established by the brothers Alfred and Harold Harmsworth quite a long time ago in 1896. The newspaper looked rather different then. Not big splashy headlines. it became the world’s biggest circulation newspaper with over a million, which was a lot in those days. The paper, fairly early on, represented a stance of supporting the fascist movement in Great Britain. And in the 1930s, there was an article by the owner Lord Rothermere in support of the Blackshirts, which was Oswald Mosley’s fascist organisation. The paper supported the Nazis. They supported Hitler during the 1930s. This newspaper article represented the Daily Mail of the 1930s. It was a newspaper article which decried Jewish refugees fleeing from Nazi Germany to come to Great Britain. It could be a headline today with another group of people. My father was actually a teenager escaping the Nazis to come to this country and therefore I have some heartfelt feelings about this. The owner of the Daily Mail was a great friend of Adolf Hitler. Lord Rothermere in case you are not aware is on the left (Laughter from audience) Now today the same family is involved with owning and running the paper. Today we have Jonathan Harmsworth who is now the Lord Rothermere of today who is running and owning the newspaper. Maybe not a lot has changed since the 1930s and the stance they had then. Today, the Mail Online has almost a hundred and ninety million unique online users or readers. It’s the world’s most successful online newspaper. What a huge reach and power this newspaper has got. A lot of people read this. I ask the question sometimes: Who do you blame? The sellers or the buyers? The writers or the readers? And it’s an important question because clearly if people didn’t read this stuff they wouldn’t be able to sell it. I want to come now to the problem I’ve had with the Daily Mail more recently which was this story. Which was published on the 31st of December. And it’s a story which has become quite famous or infamous. This was a story which claimed that flights and buses were full up and sold out from Romania and Bulgaria to Great Britain. As soon as I saw this story, I said to myself: ‘I can’t believe it.’ So, within minutes of reading the story I checked and I was able to book seats on buses that they said they were full up. I was able to get seats on planes that they said were full up. It seemed a complete nonsense and so I contacted EasyJet. And they said we haven’t seen any evidence of increased passenger numbers contrary to what the Daily Mail was trying to tell us, that actually, we had almost people hanging out of the buses and planes to get here. I spoke to Wiz Air. They were very angry about it because the Daily Mail had told us in their article that they had had to double their flights to accommodate everybody and actually put on an extra flight so they could get everybody here. And they said it’s complete rubbish. So that was quite a good quote. Then of course we have the buses Balkan Horn. I spoke to them I phoned them up and booked a ticket. And then I had to say I have to be honest I don’t really want the ticket but I just wanted to be sure I could get one. And they said we’ve got less bookings this year than last year. It was nothing new, nothing different. The Daily Mail story I can say, without fear of being sued for defamation, was a complete pack of lies Does my noble friend agree that the sort of language we saw in the run-up to January the 1st in reference to the latest wave of migrants Bulgarians and Romanians was wholly unnecessary, negative and had an impact on the ground in terms of the perception of people from other countries coming here to work. Words like scroungers Does my noble friend agree that this sort of language has got no place in our society and after all aren’t we all part of a big society? My Lords, I entirely agree but I think it’s a question for the editor of The Daily Mail more than for any Minister of the current Government. There was quite absurd language and indeed some entirely untrue stories about extra planes packed buses and so on which appeared in December and which have not been denied by the newspapers that published them since. That is very unfortunate in an open, free and democratic society. So, I did a series of blogs on my blog site EU-ROPE.com Please remember that and please don’t go to EU-ROPE.co.uk because they wrote to me last week and apparently they do rope bondage which has nothing to do with me. [Laughter] So I did my series of blogs and I wrote a letter of complaint to the editor of The Daily Mail. And they wrote back, very quickly actually, saying they stand by everything. They had journalists from Romania and Bulgaria helping them. And they stand by the whole story. Now at that point I had only really checked the story content about flights and buses. I thought well okay we’ve got quite a big battle here, and through New Europeans, an organisation that I support, they helped put me in touch with a leading journalist on the Romanian newspaper there, Alina Matis, and we decided that together we would analyse their story line by line. And we contacted everybody who the Daily Mail claimed to have quoted and contacted. And what a revelation that was. I phoned people up. Alina contacted people and the reaction was ‘What? The Daily Mail has never talked to us. Those were quotes we would never have said.’ So the whole story was complete nonsense. I then wrote ’13 reasons why I’m taking the Daily Mail to the Press Complaints Commission’. And this story became quite famous. Hugh Grant tweeted it. Alastair Campbell tweeted it. Actually Alastair Campbell’s got double the number of followers on Twitter than Hugh Grant. I don’t know how he managed that. And also, it was written about by Roy Greenslade in The Guardian. Before I knew it, we had over 80,000 unique hits in just over a week, which is not as good as 190 million but still, we’re getting there. Now I’m not naive about this. I wasn’t expecting much, but what other apparatus is there for us to make a complaint. So I have to try it. Now these statistics were put together by Brian Cathcart who is the head of Hacked Off. These are not statistics that are readily available by the Press Complaints Commission. He had to compile this and they’re very interesting statistics because it shows actually that most complaints are about the Daily Mail. The Press Complaints Commission gets something like 12,000 complaints in a year. That’s what they got last year. Most of them are put to one side as not being appropriate, not the right type of complaint. So that whittles it down to 2,000, and of those they didn’t put the complaint in properly. There’s a whole host of reasons why they’re not taken up, or they decide not to pursue it. So then you end up with about a hundred where they say they’re resolved because the complainant has accepted some form of apology Only in a very small number of cases is there an adjudication and none against the Daily Mail. I wonder why that is. So let’s look at this guy. He is Paul Dacre, the editor of The Daily Mail. And if you put a complaint in to the Press Complaints Commission you might wonder why is it that the chances are you will not get your complaint properly considered. Well one reason might be, is that he is actually chairman of the Editors Code of Practice of the Press Complaints Commission. He’s the guy who’s in charge of writing the Code of Practice. There’s another reason. He’s also a committee member of Pressbof, which is the most powerful committee because it funds the Press Complaints Commission. So a very powerful influence on the Press Complaints Commission Independent? I don’t think so. So here we are. I put my complaint in and so did 83 other people in January alone. And last week on their, or maybe a week before, on their database, they listed all the complaints the Press Complaints Commission received during January, and there were all these. Sold-out! Flights and buses full as Romanians head for the UK. Clause not cited. Not pursued and not the lead complaint. Now what’s all that mean? I didn’t know. So, they said, ‘Oh, well all these are complaints that we’ve received and because they didn’t put the code of the Editors’ Code of Practice, we can’t pursue it.’ Well, my complaint was submitted in January, and I put that I wanted the Code 1 and 12, so where’s my complaint? Why had they discarded my complaint? So I wrote a blog saying that all these complaints have been rejected. Then the Press Complaints Commission said ‘Oh well hold on that’s not the way we work. ‘What happens is, that we get all these complaints, ‘and we don’t look at them all, oh no. ‘What we do is we have one lead complaint ‘that we take up, just one. ‘And then all the rest we, we put to one side.’ Can you imagine if the police worked that way? If they had 83 witnesses and, ‘Well, we’ll just pick one and all the other evidence we’ll ignore.’ I said, ‘Well, how do you choose the lead complaint?’ First of all, one person in the PCC told me, ‘It’s the first one we get.’ Then, another person in the PCC told me, ‘Oh no, we choose the one, we choose it.’ Well, they get probably the easiest one, you know that’s a good one to choose. So I’m not very satisfied with that. And what happened is, that last night, at six o’clock they told me their decision. And their decision was that the one complaint they’d chosen as their lead complaint. Which was just about buses and planes being full, not the 13 reasons I went through which, with Alina Matis on the Gândul, where we went through line by line and showed how the interviewees had not been interviewed at all. No. This one complaint that they chose actually agreed to a correction in the Daily Mail, so now the complaint has been dismissed. I don’t think it’s adequate It’s not a proper correction. It doesn’t go through what I went through, which was a huge in-depth analysis of their article. 81 people had their complaint ignored. My 13 reasons have been ignored and I’ve told them I’m completely unsatisfied. And they said ‘Okay. Well we can do a special ruling on your complaint, if you so request’. And guess what. I requested. [Laughter] I want to say it’s not just the Daily Mail. For example, the Daily Express, which incidentally is not even a member of the Press Complaints Commission, so you’ve got really no grounds today to easily complain against the Daily Express. This is from about 2007 or 2006 it’s a little bit old now but, but it could appear today. It’s no different. This has been their style for a long time. ‘How immigrants milk the system’ I was having a cup of coffee in a cafe And I saw this lady reading this and she was tutting and saying this is terrible. and I said to her, ‘It’s untrue’. And she said, ‘No no it’s all true! ‘It’s here in the Daily Express’ So I abandoned my coffee and croissant, I was so annoyed. I went back home, and started to analyse that entire story line by line. I did a complete analysis of how it was full of lies. And unfortunately people read it and believe it, and it isn’t true So then, the following year and again, even though these examples are a few years old now, it doesn’t matter because they could be today. I saw this headline in my local newspaper. ‘Like it or not, the gipsies are coming’ I thought this is racist. How could they write something like this? I complained to the editor of the Watford Observer and said that is a racist headline and also in the article you have not quoted from any gypsy or any gypsy or Roma organisation or Irish travelling organisation. It’s a completely one-sided story. And the editor wrote back and said, ‘Okay, so we’ve changed our code book now, ‘so in future we’ll make sure that we do double-check that they are really gypsies’ I thought, ‘You’ve missed the point completely! ‘You’ve missed it.’ So I decided to complain to the Press Complaints Commission. [Laughter from audience] I can’t see what’s funny about that! [More laughter] So when you complain to the Press Complaints Commission let me tell you this is a very arcane bureaucratic procedure. Somebody wrote to me yesterday and said they are in chaos. They are an organization that is in disarray. I totally disagree. This is an organisation who knows how to organize things in a very peculiar way on purpose. They want to put you off. They don’t want people like me complaining. They don’t want anyone complaining. They’d much prefer that we didn’t. So, this is the list of the 16 codes. Remember that Paul Dacre is in charge of this Code of Practice. And you have to choose one. If you don’t choose a code, you end up on that list that I ended up, even though I did choose a code, you get ignored. If you don’t follow their procedure you’re stuffed. So you have to decide out of those 16, which code you’re complaining or codes. All right? So I looked at this and thought okay. It’s not accuracy really. Gypsies are coming. It has to be code number 12, discrimination. This is discrimination against a whole group of people. So I made my complaint. And the Press Complaints considered it. And they came back and said, “The headline, ‘Like it or not, the gipsies are coming’ “was not discriminatory under Clause 12 “of the Editors’ Code of Practice “because no actual individual was named.” Now this is very strange. An individual has to be named. So if you look closely at Clause 12, which we’re going to do, It actually says ‘an individual’s race, color, religion…’ An individual, okay. So this is a very peculiar thing. Code 12 does not cover groups. It does not cover nationalities. It does not cover a whole ethnic group of people. Only an individual. You couldn’t say under the code, ‘Mr Smith is stupid because he’s a gypsy,’ because that names him as an individual. But you could say all gypsies are stupid. You could, and let me prove to you that you can. So I wrote back to the Press Complaints Commission and said this is quite ridiculous. What is race discrimination if you cannot complain about discriminiation against an entire race? Isn’t that what it’s all about? So I wrote to them and I said okay. Let me send you some imaginary headlines of an imaginary newspaper. Actually, It’s not that imaginary as you’ll see. And I hope no one is flying by the window in a minute and having a look at some of these headlines, because they will be very angry and they’ll report me. So I said what about ‘Jews are not fit to run a business’ Could you have that as a headline? How about, ‘Like it or not the blacks are ignorant’ Could you have that as a headline? ‘All Muslims are terrorists’ How about that one? ‘UK better off without Asians’ How about that as a headline? Would the PCC take that one up? Or ‘Wheelchair users are lazy’ [Laughter] And what about, ‘Most gypsies steal babies.’ How about that for a headline? Would the PCC take any of these headlines up? Oh, I didn’t know there’s another one. ‘All Catholics are shoplifters’ [Laugher] So there we are. The response. ‘The headlines you hypothetically quote ‘could not be considered to raise ‘a breach of clause 12.’ There you are There you have it in black and white. What about this Clause 12? Certainly there are organisations who are very concerned about it. The National Union of Journalists, who I’m a member of, they’re concerned. They believe that we should be able to complain about discrimination of a group, and not just an individual. This is a glaring fault in the code of the Press Complaints Commission. It needs to be corrected. So Leveson. What did he find? He thought that the existing Press Complaints Commission is not sufficient and he recommended a new independent body. So let me tell you some news, which you may not know. The Press Complaints Commission is closing down. I hope you won’t feel too sad. On the 1st of May we have IPSO, the press standards organisation, and they are practically the same. It’s the same building. It’s the same company number. They just changed their name. And what’s more: It’s the same Code of Practice. I rang them up and said, ‘Independent?’ ‘Are you changing your Code of Practice?’ ‘Are you going to change code 12 at all?’ No. It’s all the same. I can’t see the point. It’s not really independent is it? OK they’ve, they have done some cosmetic changes, but still the fundamental complaints I have about it will be no different on the 1st of May as it is now. So, I want to introduce you to this lovely couple. Heidi and Richie Calvert I want to talk to you about them for just a minute, because this is another side of journalism, about how it’s casting aspersions on whole groups of people for which we have no proper address. Now this couple claimed to be childless. They wanted a baby Desperate to have a baby in fact. So, they put an advert, in Bulgaria. Where of course, it’s quite legal to buy babies isn’t it? No. It’s not. They put this in, rather peculiar Bulgarian Google translated language, that they wanted to buy a baby. I do the English translation: ‘Hello, we really want to have a baby, maybe two. ‘Money is no object. We’ll pay anything.’ Well, what was interesting about this is it was such an unusual advert, because of course they had the idea that it’s alright to buy babies in Bulgaria. So the Nova TV station picked up on this advert and they decided to go along with it. They wrote back and said. ‘We’ve got a baby. ‘For sale. ‘Two thousand pounds.’ This couple then immediately flew out to Bulgaria and the Nova TV crew filmed them secretly. What the Nova TV crew didn’t know, what this lovely couple didn’t know, is that they were from the Sunday Times. So this was a double bluff [Laugher] Two lots of journalists secretly filming each other about buying a baby that didn’t exist and could never happen. The Nova TV station pointed out to this lovely couple that actually buying babies is illegal in Bulgaria as it is in the United Kingdom. They went back very sorry. Not sorry that they didn’t have a baby. Sorry that they didn’t have a story for the Sunday Times insight team who then wrote to Nova TV and said, ‘Oh this has never happened to us before. ‘We are still looking for people who might ‘be willing to sell a baby. ‘Have you got any tips for us?’ Well I’m going to conclude on what I hope is an uplifting response to this problem. I was editor of this newspaper a long time ago. ‘Yes but what can I do?’ It was about the world’s problems and what individuals and action groups were doing around the world. And I was very fortunate to work for this United Nations sponsored newspaper. And one thing it did teach me at the time, is that even though we may only be able to do a little, that’s no excuse for not doing what little we can. When I was 23 I flew to Tanzania and imported three tons of their coffee. Instant coffee, with some friends in Oxford, and we sold 20,000 packs of coffee. Not to make any money. Just to educate people about the plight of coffee pickers in Africa. We had no idea then what that would turn into. It was the kernel of the idea of Fair Trade, which followed later on. We have to have hope that we can do something. Now look. This is the challenge of our generation. We have to bring to account these dirty rotten scoundrelous newspapers and if we do that we won’t be losing a free press. We’ll be gaining a press that’s free of vile, vitriolic attacks on sections of our community, and individuals, when there have been no warranted grounds to do so. Can we do that? Yes, I think we can. Thank you [Applause]

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