Monday, January 17, 2011

Speaking banal of the dead

One of my bugbears about modern journalism is how editors feel the need to personalise stories about murdered women or children (but very rarely men) by using their first name in headlines. Even my own paper follows this convention, which to me always seems disrespectful to the dead and their families.

The tragic death of Joanna Yeates over Christmas has been covered with an array of headlines featuring "Joanna" or "Jo". I'm asuming she liked to be known as Jo, although suspect it would not have made any difference, Jo being a nice short word to puff in 72 point on the front page and flog some extra papers off a sensationalised claim.

Nothing, though, has been written about this desperately sad story that is more offensive than this drivel churned out by Liz Jones in the Daily Mail over the weekend.

Under the yucky headline "Is lovely Jo just becoming another thumbnail on the police website?", the banal Jones woman follows Yeates's final steps, primarily whingeing about irrelevancies and demonstrating her own hideous slavishness to consumerism.

Who cares that the food served in the last pub Yeates ate in is a bit crap or that they can't spell Laurent Perrier? Would it really have made her death more bearable if her last night out had been a bit more swanky, as Jones suggests? How on earth does this woman know what Yeates was feeling as she bought her pizza or neared her home?

Is it really a travesty that cars aren't slowing as they pass the place where the body was found, or that someone left flowers but didn't write on the card?

Worse of all is her dreadful conclusion, suggesting that the killer avoided the Clifton Suspension Bridge because he didn't want to pay the 50p toll and then giving us a very boring anecdote about how the traffic hooted at Jones because she didn't have enough change for the bridge herself.

Ghastly woman.

Every time I feel depressed that I am going nowhere in my career, I need to be grateful that I don't work for the Daily Mail and that I don't write such self-absorbed toss as Liz Jones.

And then I look at the sales figures for the Mail compared with The Times and feel depressed again.


Will said...

One L Booth's done alright for himself via the Mail :)

Eneida Molina said...

You are brilliantly right in everything you think and say. But, don't ever get depressed because sales are not as high as your competitor's. There are mass newspapers for poorly educated readers ( and journalists) and newspapers targeted to mostly self-educated people who are willing to pay a bit more for your quality publication. At the end its not circulation what counts but whom are your advertisers trying to reach. There are certainly a good piece of the "pie chart" that will choose your honesty to yours competitor's bimbo style. Eneida Molina, Puerto Rico.

Paddy said...

Yeah, Will, but Lawrence's best stuff is all written for other media than the Mail (Cricinfo, TWC or his own Spin newsletter). And I can't quite see him agreeing to do a Liz Jones.

Thanks, Eneida. Grateful for your comment. But how on earth have I managed to attract a reader in Puerto Rico? Anyway, you are very welcome. Come again!

Southern Waratah said...

A female friend of mine was murdered in the 90's in a similar manner; she was walking between pubs in a medium sized country town, along some dark back streets. An article of similar vein was written re-tracing her steps in the days, it wrote more of the sights and sounds of her path she took trying to put us in her place that night.
The clap trap that was written by the Liz just ad's Salt to the wounds of that poor girl that lost her life.
The best thing we can do in situations like this is not lower ourselves to other people's standards.

Southern Waratah said...

Paddy sorry I just called you Patty!

I owe you a 3rd Pint for that...