The Telegraph: my favourite work of fiction

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.

9 comments

  1. So propaganda against the Tigers is something you can happily spin out, but what the Tamils were protesting about is a little too much research is it?
    Why don’t you write an article on the 7000 innocent Tamils slaughtered in the last three months alone? Were they all LTTE? The protesters you’re moaning about are trying to stop violence there, through political channels to save thousands of peoples’ lives. Pretty noble, and good for them.

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  2. Agree a little with Wendy – waving Tamil flags isn’t exactly “worrying” – but the comment piece is also accurate. I can’t work out which I should criticise though, since this piece seems to be very similar to that it criticises for very similar reasons :-\

    But yes, the Tamils are an oppressed people – it’s up to individuals to decide whether they think that it’s justified in light of the terrorist attacks that have come from the North-East… Either way, the people protesting in London aren’t out there bombing so can’t really be criticised for wanting to highlight problems. It would be like calling people who waved Tibet flags terrorists because Tibet was no longer recognised as a country by China, etc. The people in London haven’t done anything wrong and haven’t posed any threat. I also haven’t heard of what the 6 protesters were actually charged with, which always raises a few suspicions. Anywho, the media will always be poor at their job because they will always try to make news out of nothing or controversy out of cooperation.

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  3. What is the point of this utterly useless article?

    I think Mr Lemmer needs to think more carefully about his essay plans, or he himself will be winning the YUM equivalent of the “Laziest Comment Feature award” that he writes of.

    This is hardly journalism; more the venting of one’s ill-mannered spleen on a news website that I’d instead expect to see on a personal blog, Facebook note or even elongated Tweet. C’mon Nouse, get rid please…

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  4. It seems to me that many people who comment here have not done any research regarding what is happening in Sri Lanka. Over the past 30 years, over SEVENTY THOUSAND PEOPLE HAVE DIED because the Tamil Tigers belioeve they have the right to appropriate part of the island of Sri Lanka for themselves. (Think IRA and multiply by 10).

    The tigers have an annual budget of US$ 600,000,000, operate an army, airforce and navy, take children under 10 into their schools for indoctrination and put 12 year olds on the front line with guns and suicide pills. The developed and perfected the human bomb belt, the vehicle ram bomb, and have assassinated three heads of state (as well as a few ex-Prime Ministers like Rajiv Gandhi).

    They are currently keeping thousands of civilians against their will as human shields, and have abandoned their fancy uniforms so as to look like civilians themselves. They have, and are using, large military weapons, such as tanks and Field Guns, inside an area that the Sri Lankan government is refusing to use anything other than face-to-face weapons in so as to minimise the impact on Tamil civilians.

    The Tigers have operated a commercial shipping line – mainly moving drugs and arms – and have an extortion pyramid that takes money from over a million people all over the world. They take the food supplied by the ICRC in the no Fire Zone, and SELL it to the Tamils they claim to be protecting.

    ALl this information is available from researched and multi-source checked articles on the Internet. Please go look. In the mean time, talk to some people who know that Tamils and Sinhalese people live side-by-side, in harmony and peace, in the south and centre of Sri Lanka; in fact the majority of Sri Lankan Tamils have and want nothing to do with the Tigers, and just want to get on with their lives.

    Last point. There can not be a political solution as long as Prabakharan is the leader of the Tigers. He is wanted in three countries, not including Sri Lanka, for criminal acts, and has already been sentenced for the assasination of Rajiv Gandhi. If he walks out in public he will be abducvted and taken to Indoia no matter what the Sri LAnkan government may do to try and protect him.

    Declaration
    I am English, white, married to a Sri Lankan, with many close friends of both Tamil and Sinhalese ethnicities.

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  5. “Can anyone tell me the address off…” And assumedly, by obtaining the pair’s addresses, you will go round to their houses with a creepy smile, a sledgehammer and a Vaio and/or copy of Nouse, bang on the doors, and school these two god-awful excuses-for-what-passes-as-journalists in how an article should be written?

    It might just be your “personal style” – if so, well done, you’re well on the way to blazing a trail in the vein of Giles Coren or a similar fleshwaste of a journalist – but you do come off incredibly, painfully, smugly in this article, as if you were yourself the veteran Fleet Street hack and these two Telegraph journalists are student journalists, rather than the other way round.

    Also, the point of this article itself being… journalists sometimes rumour or misappropriate things? Sometimes stories don’t turn out to be anything? Sometimes articles seem to be pointless and badly written? Here, there are three paragraphs here relating to bad journalism and only one which really says anything vaguely relating to the political situation in Sri Lanka.

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  6. Oh yes, what a jolly bunch of nice people these LTTE supporters are! They’ve been financing for years an organisation that has re-defined the phrase “Women and children first”. It now means “Put them in the front line to protect our beloved terrorist leaders.” Why weren’t these protesters outside the homes of the LTTE organisers and the offices of the Tamil language newspapers who have been financing this bunch of political thugs for the last 30 years?

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  7. This is coming from somebody writing for Nouse????

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  8. As I have said before, most of my Nouse articles are taken from another website which is aimed at getting younger people involved in political activism and international issues. If you don’t like the style, I’m sorry it’s not to your taste.

    This article was attacking bad journalism. Aislinn Simpson did not quote the source of the “growing fears” – could be internet forums, a close personal source, Elvis Priesly, a talking Chipmunk, anything. If the headline reports growing fears, is it so unreasonable to expect the news piece to say where it received this information from? Especially when the rest of the article contradicts both the validity and the importance of the headline. It’s lazy at best, scaremongering at worse.

    The second part: James Kirkup reports a rather happy scene. Slightly different to this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7YVaZTy1yU , which seems a lot more heated. Why so heated? Well, James doesn’t know or seem to really care. Considering he is a professional journalist, being paid a considerable salary by a daily national newspaper, describing a scene that is literally right outside his window, the fact he is flippant about his ignorance of the situation is painful. His argument is also rather puzzziling; ‘I could moan and gripe about these protesters for lots of reasons, but I like them for the single reason that their still out there’. Er, what?

    “It would be like calling people who waved Tibet flags terrorists because Tibet was no longer recognised as a country by China” & “waving Tamil flags isn’t exactly “worrying”; If Tibetan nationalists were recruiting child soldiers and regularly recruiting suicide bombers for terrorist attacks, I would be worried that a large number of people think it’s OK to wave Tibetan flags. There is nothing illegal about waving a flag, but as Robin Willaims put it “Y’ Know the confederate flag is just a symbol of state rights”… Sure and the swastika is just a Tibetan good luck charm. …”

    Ask someone who’s lost their child to Tiger press-gangs if the Tiger flag is a worrying thing. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/apr/25/sri-lanka-tamil-tigers-rebels-children

    “So propaganda against the Tigers is something you can happily spin out, but what the Tamils were protesting about is a little too much research is it?”

    I didn’t know the UN was a propaganda/spin machine. If it is, hair-splitting over newspaper articles is the least of our worries. I have written an article that is critical of the Sri Lankan government and Defence Secretary Gothabaya Rajapaksa
    http://richardlemmer.blogspot.com/2009/01/article-on-tamil-tigers-for.html

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  9. Oh, and…

    “Can anyone tell me the address off…” And assumedly, by obtaining the pair’s addresses, you will go round to their houses with a creepy smile, a sledgehammer and a Vaio and/or copy of Nouse, bang on the doors, and school these two god-awful excuses-for-what-passes-as-journalists in how an article should be written?”

    “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…and I would like to post it to them or deliver it to them in person, but of course I’m not really going to do this because it’s just a joke and to explain this is a joke would of course kill any tiny shred of humour there was in the idea of awarding Crap Journalism Awards, but I would hate for people to think by asking for a journalist’s address I must be a sledgehammer wielding creep, so I have to spell out the implicit connection between the sentence beginning with “Can anyone…” and the sentence begging “For Aislinn”, for the proposition “for” may lead to some confusion as to whether the two ideas – being the procuring of a journalist’s address and said journalist winning an award – are indeed some way connected, which they are.”

    Much better? I wouldn’t mind the vitriol if I was attacking UN policy or advocating martial rape – I’m just pointing out dodgy journalism. This is just a student paper, and I already have my own self awarded Crap Journalism awards hanging over my head. But is it crazy to be annoyed that quality newspapers feel the need to push out material that is either incomplete or unnecessary?

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