Can anyone tell me the address of Aislinn Simpson of the Daily Telegraph? For Aislinn is the winner of The Biggest Non-Story Of The Week award, a fictitious award for fictitious news stories. “London Marathon organisers ‘could be forced to divert route over Tamil protest'” ran the headline authored by Aislinn on the Daily Telegraph’s London Marathon website page last week. Surely a news worthy piece, highlighting a potential clash of sports and politics, multiculturism and tradition, sweaty people and angry people?
Unfortunately not. “There are growing fears that Parliament Square, which is on the race route, could be once again blocked by protesters keen to keep the spotlight on the Sri Lankan government campaign against the Tamil Tigers separatist group which has caused the deaths of thousands of civilians”, Aislinn reported. Where these fears were growing from was not made entirely clear. In fact, it wasn’t made clear at all, as this was the only mentioning of these “growing fears”. There certainly were none amongst marathon organisers, with a spokesperson saying “the London Marathon team are in permanent contact with the Metropolitan Police but there are no official plans to re-route the race at present”. Even Boris Johnson said “the route will be the same length as normal. We will not be cutting the marathon and it will be the same route”. But a detour would a be a major, grade-A event in the history of the London Marathon, right? “There have been various disruptions to the course in recent years, including last year when there was a gas leak and we diverted the route at the last-minute”, Aislinn’s marathon organiser source said. All in all, a news story that amounted to a load of hot air.
Now, can anyone tell me the address of Telegraph pundit James Kirkup? James is the winner of The Laziest Comment Feature award, which he should have won a month ago but I couldn’t be arsed to sort out the paper work. Like Aislinn’s work, James piece represents a worrying Telegraph trend of the headline seeming to contradict the main copy. “In praise of the British Tamils’ Westminster protest” was the headlines; “Now, you can say a lot of bad things about (the early April Tamil protests outside Parliament). The police say it’s illegal, because it wasn’t authorised in advance. London travellers, me included, could complain about the traffic disruption caused on the first day when the Tamils blocked Westminster Bridge. And the few lonely souls here at the Commons during the recess might gripe about the noise”, was a significant part of James’s copy. But despite these numerous reasons to moan, the Tamil protesters had James’s “admiration simply for sticking it out”; “they’re an affable enough bunch: men, women and children, few if any of whom seem interested in confronting the police or doing anything violent”. Such praise even though James isn’t “quite sure what they want or what they think they’re going to achieve”. Of course, he couldn’t go down and ask the protesters what they want because this would be, you know – journalism.
Had James bothered to do some actual reporting, he might have found out that six “affable” protesters had been arrested the day before his comment piece went live on the Telegraph site. Or that many of the protester’s were waving red Tamil Tiger flags – worrying since the Tiger’s are an internationally recognised terrorist group; this is the same Tamil Tigers who are notorious for using child soldiers – the UN recording over 6,000 cases of child recruitment since 2003. This is the same Tamil Tigers which have launched countless suicide bombings against civilian targets.
All a bit too complicated unless framed in the context of an annual charity run it seems.