The Made Up News

January 31, 2010

I must admit I have recently taken a drastic u-turn on the topic for this “difficult second post.” Initially my plan was to write some self referential honky about my experiences with an ex girlfriend turned stalker who haunted me over Christmas like the Ghost of Girlfriends Past (look forward to that in post 3 folks) until some hack at The Irish Mail On Sunday (IMOS) made life easy for me.

Many of you will already know the story of Melanie Schregardus (@mrs_shregardus to her friends on Twitter) an air traffic controller who some time ago wrote an innocent blog post describing her experiences and trepidations in the initial days of her unusual job, only to find some months later herself spread across Page 5 of the IMOS under the headline “The male chauvinist pigs of Irish air traffic control.” She was not told that this article was being printed, she was not asked if she would like to comment on the story (read her full response to the article here) and worst of all they had even dredged up a picture of her from some far flung website and slapped that up there too – all smiles on the matter. It was sub-journalism bordering on imaginative writing.

The journalist showed no respect for @mrs_schregardus, had no remorse for the shit storm (the worst kind of storm for air traffic controllers) that it would cause at her work or the difficulties it may cause her in gaining future employment. Well, say I, it’s about time they got a taste of their own medicine….


Editor’s criticism rebuffle reveals the shocking state of journalism.

“Its 4pm on a Saturday afternoon and the deadline is getting close. Page 5 is still emptier than Russell Brand’s nut sacks. The advert that was planned to go there has just been pulled as the advertiser has decided that online advertising is probably more advantageous. And we still have no story.”

In the time before the Internet this is where the intrepid reporter would take to the streets to track down that philandering MP, look under the doormats of Big Corporation or (if truly stuck) write about some mentalist’s bellybutton fluff collection. Well not anymore folks. Now all a reporter has to do is type into Google the key big story of the week and hey presto he has his next big scoop. And not only does he not have to leave his office he doesn’t even have to read what he finds as he will just twist it to the story he wants to write anyway. Is this how you want the hard earned money that you spend on your daily periodical used? No I thought as much.

This scenario could be exactly what IMOS journalist Luke Byrne found himself in when he wrote a feature based on the blog of an air traffic controller. Without any actual news to report Mr. Byrne used a few throw away lines from this blog to spin a whole page of print with no actual reporting in it at all. But by sneakily putting a sensationalist headline over the top of the piece to draw the reader into making his own conclusion before even reading the feature, Mr. Byrne could go home for the weekend happy (probably) to his moat surrounded chateaux complete with filthy S&M sex dungeon.

Even his own editor Sebastian Hamilton defended his laziness. When asked to comment on why they didn’t even bother contacting the subject of the article, Mr. Hamilton wrote: “Luke Byrne attempted to contact Mrs. Schregardus by Twitter” thus proving that they are even too lazy to write a comment on her blog, preferring only to write a maximum of 140 characters. Sickening.

You have to ask yourself is this the type of tripe that you want your children reading? Puff piece articles sexed up by the use of words such as “sexed” and a liberal smattering or “inverted commas” and bold type? Personally I think these word rapists should all be locked up and the keys thrown away. Along with the blacks.


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