The Mirror lies about Michael Jackson. Can a LAUGH at them do what a complaint can’t?
At first I didn’t want to speak about your press. By now I have formed a certain opinion about it but was keeping it to myself thinking that any judgment on my part would be unethical as the media in my place isn’t much better. However now that so much dirt is being poured on Michael Jackson and everyone is gazing in astonishment at this outrage and no one is able to do anything about it, it is impossible to keep silent.
The fraudulent publications about Michael appear as a matter of routine every Sunday and drag his name through the mud in the most shameful and blatant manner possible.
First it was Wade Robson’s sudden recovery from amnesia (his lies were the real reason that brought Paris Jackson to a suicide attempt as she couldn’t understand how he could do it to her father), then came an astronomical number of “victims” no one has ever heard of, then they mentioned some fictitious millions allegedly used to silence those non-existent victims, and their latest lie is that all this crap is based on some “fbi files” which all of us have been searching ever since but could not find as it is impossible to find what is simply not there.
All the parties concerned except the most naive know that this is a deliberate slander campaign to distract us from the AEG trial and degrade the man who was innocent inside out, but no one can do anything about it – it is freedom of speech you know, so while the dog is barking the media caravan is going on, stamping out the truth and spitting on anyone who says that it is improper and indecent thing to do.
I hear that Taj Jackson, Michael Jackson’s nephew has recently complained to the British Press Complaints Commission about the terrible lies told about his uncle in the UK press.
It is worth trying of course, though the information I’ve learned about this PCC thing doesn’t sound too encouraging. First of all I’ve been to their site and their page on “How to make a complaint” openly says that they don’t deal in matters of “taste and decency”.
Evidently these days no one remembers what decency is as it is even listed by PCC as something arbitrary – in the category of “taste”, so let me remind them that the most indecent thing for the press is to tell LIES and once they cope with this problem all the rest of it will be relatively easy to decide.
Let me also remind them that the stories of certain LeMarques about Jackson, Macaulay Culkin and other youngsters rehashed now by the UK press are proven lies and this was determined already at the 2005 trial, so printing these lies now as some newly found “fbi files” is the biggest indecency ever possible.
However though this Michael Jackson matter is exceptionally easy to decide I wouldn’t be so hopeful of the fair decision on the part of the Press Complaints Commission, and the reason for it are the revelations about PCC made by tabloid journalists themselves.
According to a smashing documentary called “The Starsuckers” made by some honest journalists in the UK, PCC is a sheer fraud for the simple minds. Or a sham and a joke as the author of the documentary put it.
The maker of the film Chris Atkins says:
- ‘We are led to believe that editors are awake at night terrified of the PCC”, and that “the embarrassment, the shame of the PCC complaint is something they will take to their grave. This is how it is presented to us and Parliament.”
But then he says what the tabloid people frankly told him about this PCC:
- “The reaction of the journalist of the Sunday People was the exact opposite. So self-regulation of the press does not work. It never worked. It’s a sham. It’s a joke.”
The reporter the author of the documentary is referring to is a lovely girl working for the People tabloid who frankly talked to the author about the way they brush aside PCC. And judging by what the rest of the tabloids do it is their common opinion about this organization.
The episode where she talks about the PCC is actually the funniest in those parts of the documentary which are available on YouTube now.
It all started with the author feeding three tabloids some totally fictitious stories about certain celebrities and their cosmetic procedures. Though such intrusion into private life is not allowed by PCC and their Code of Practice, the three tabloids out of four didn’t hesitate to break these regulations as they can’t care less about what the commission thinks, says or does about their activities.
The author of the documentary was even offered a reward for his revelations – up to 10 grand from the Sunday People, for example – but no money was taken as a matter of principle.
The tabloids had to pay their price though as the author of the documentary video recorded their discussions. When watching them now you realize that there is no better way to deal with tabloids than record them and then show to the general public what they themselves say about their “news” and especially about the formidable Press Complaints Commission they are supposed to be so afraid of.
Chris Atkins says: “I wanted them to talk, and oh boy, they did talk!”
Here is one of their videos from Youtube:
I will limit myself to only one episode from this video.
Now this reporter is surely no longer working for the paper, but she can comfort herself by the fame she is enjoying through all these revelations and the publicity she is getting this way.
The girl is truly a star reporter.
This is what she says about the Press Complaints Commission:
Getting PCC is not great, but…
A lot of papers just brush it aside.
All it is just a little apology somewhere in the paper.
You get a slap on the wrist.
You get reported by PCC…
But there is no money!
Yeah, it’s a really odd situation…
And the PCC is run by the newspapers editors…
Yeah, it’s like a self-regulating thing…
It’s really odd, but…
The wide smile on her face and a good laugh over that odd PCC thing at the end of the story is probably the most precious part in all her revelations.
So the way the tabloid girl explains it to us, the Press Complaint Commission is run by editors of the very newspapers whose publications we are complaining about.
In other words, when the Sunday Mirror and Daily Mail lie like crazy about Michael Jackson, we need to complain about their lies to the editors of these very papers and their colleagues, with whom they are most probably great pals after all that sitting together in one commission.
Even if PCC agrees that the so-called “fbi files” are the totally fictitious horror stories made by some crooks, the only punishment the paper will get will be a slap on their wrist.
And all that will be required of them after that will be a tiny apology saying that there were some “inaccuracies” in the several months of slander and dirt against Michael Jackson.
If readers notice this apology “somewhere in the paper” it will leave them forever guessing what was a lie and what was the truth in the pile of crap they have already consumed.
But in most cases no one will notice anything at all – same as no one noticed a tiny announcement in the USA Today saying that there was no match between Jordan Chandler’s description and Michael’s private parts which modestly appeared the next day after all of them went into a frenzy with their front page stories over the news of the settlement.
The most important thing we’ve learned from our star reporter is that there is no money to lose for the tabloids even if the most outrageous lies are told, and that money is all these people care for.
Matters like decency have long ceased to bother these guys, so once the wrists are slapped the lying machine will cynically start anew and all this will be done in the name of the freedom of press of course.
British humor, you know.
* * *
In the supplement you will find a little more information about the Mirror Trinity Group which includes the Mirror, People and the rest of the 107 papers run by this big media group in the UK as well as some ideas from the authors of the Starsuckers documentary on how to deal with these monsters.
- The Sunday Mirror is the Sunday sister paper of the Daily Mirror. Their weekly circulation is around 1,846,000. The Mirror papers are part of the Trinity Mirror group which also includes The People (who we are familiar with through that talkative reporter). The circulation of the People newspaper is roughly 700,000.
- The Trinity Mirror group prides itself on the quality of their news: “Whether via page or screen, our audiences get the trusted, reliable news service they have come to expect.”
- They also say that they have “an award winning portfolio of newspapers, websites and digital products” and are “one of the UK’s largest multimedia companies employing over 5000 people across more than 60 locations around the country.” They are indeed a big media group which includes the following national and local newspapers:
- The Daily Mirror / The Sunday Mirror
- Daily Record / Sunday Mail
- The People
- Accrington Observer
- Anfield & Walton Star
- Barking & Dagenham Yellow Advertiser
- Bexley Mercury
- Birmingham Post / Birmingham Mail / Sunday Mercury
- Bootle Times
- Bracknell Standard
- Brent & Wembley Leader
- Buckinghamshire Examiner / Buckinghamshire Advertiser
- Chester Chronicle
and all the rest of the 107 papers listed on Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Trinity_Mirror_titles
You will probably be interested to see the people who bring all this splendid news to millions of people in the UK. Here are the members of the Trinity Mirror board:
Incidentally, when I was also looking at the members of the Press Complaints Commission I found that one of its seventeen members is a certain Tina Weaver, who worked as as Deputy Editor of the Daily Mirror in 1997–2001 and then was Editor of the Sunday Mirror in 2001–2012. Her successor in the Sunday Mirror now is Lloyd Embley.
So PCC always had the editor of these Mirror tabloids on its board…. In March 2013 Tina Weawer had to step down from the PCC. What happened I don’ t know but the official PCC text mysteriously states that she will not consider the complaints from the publci “while the inquiries continue”. So someone is inquiring into the activities of this lady? Interesting…
And here is what the Starsuckers’ authors have to say about the tabloids, the way they obtain their information and the true value of their so-called news. The authors actually suggest going on to fool the tabloids and it is only the need to lie about celebrities which makes me doubt their method – but otherwise the tabloids operational process described by the authors makes a hilarious read.
If we know more about how they do it, their stories will automatically become worthless, and a good laugh at their ways will probably be the best outcome as no one will take them seriously any longer. Everyone will take them for what they really are – a place where each can sell the product of their own invention and where people are competing with each other for money in their humor, imagination or nastiness.
Here is the story from those who really know – http://www.starsuckersmovie.com/how-to/:
We spent several weeks cooking up and then selling fake celebrity stories to the British Tabloids, and we were shocked at how terrifyingly easy it was. We were offered some decent sums for this, but we couldn’t take any money it would compromise our ethics… but there is nothing to stop YOU from getting rich out of this. This simple guide will have you fleecing money out of the British Tabloids in no time.
The society of professional journalists has a few things to say on the subject of journalistic ethics:
- The duty of the journalist is to … seek truth and provide a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues.
- Conscientious journalists strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist’s credibility.
- Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible.
- Identify sources whenever feasible. The public is entitled to as much information as possible on sources’ reliability.
- Always question sources’ motives before promising anonymity. Clarify conditions attached to any promise made in exchange for information. Keep promises.
Sadly these ethics seem as archaic as a guide to sending a telegram. The rampant commercialisation of the newspaper industry has meant that tabloid newspapers will pretty much print anything as long as it sells papers and gets clicks on their website. And as celebrity stories make the most money, these are the ones that are most likely to be drivel.
How Tabloids Print Lies.
- Dodgy leads. All tabloid newspapers pay money to sources once the stories get published. In the world of celebrity gossip this is guaranteed to encourage people to cook up stories to make a few quid. If you saw the drummer from McFly getting out of a cab and walking into a restaurant, and called The Sun newsdesk this is hardly going to hit the front page. If, on the other hand, you told them that he was wearing a pink Tutu and singing “She’ll be Coming Round the Mountain”, they would pay for you to dine at the Ritz.
- Bad checks. Journalists know (or should know) that paid sources are prone to gild the lilly with their stories to push up the price. The celebrity world is riddled with flakes, bullshitters, alcoholics, layabouts, coke heads, speed freaks, acid baskets and – worst of all – PR’s. The basic fee for a celebrity tip in a nightclub is £50, which is co-incidentally the going rate for a gram of cocaine. Celebrity journalists know this more than anyone, so they are supposed to check the veracity of their sources before they print anything. So if you had tried to flog a paper your McFly drummer story, it would be extremely simple for the newspaper to check it out by calling up McFly’s PR’s: “Hello, this is The Sun newsdesk. We’re looking at a story about your client skipping out of a black cab in a pink tutu singing show tunes… what? He’s in Paris? Oh, right, sorry to disturb.” Simple. But in reality this often doesn’t happen as the journalists are too overworked to perform this basic check, or they couldn’t care less.
- Exaggeration. The journalist has the story, but there’s another celebrity tutu story running that day. So the journalist adds their own spice and the headline becomes “Drummer from McFly gets out of taxi naked singing Nazi showtunes”.
- Churnalism. A phrase coined by Nick Davis (author of Flat Earth News) that neatly sums up how most modern journalism now works. Once our McFly story goes onto the wesbite of that particular Tabloid, it is instantly read online by journalists working for all the other tabloids, broadsheets, newswires, gossip magazines, blogs and BBC News. All of which are massively under resourced and over worked and are working to insane deadlines, so they all immediately grab the story, add their own little bit of spice, and run it as though they broke the story themselves. The result is that the lie gets mutated and amplified all over the world in minutes.
How to sell a fake story
Ingenuity and improvisation are the keys to succeeding at this and we would very much appreciate any feedback from both successful and unsuccessful attempts, so we can update these tips. But the very basic rules are:
- Be funny. Humour is a far more valued commodity to a tabloid journalist than the truth, so the more they laugh the less they check.
- Don’t be nasty. The more unpleasant the story, the more likely the celeb is to get angry and reach for their lawyer. This is not about libelling celebrities, but about showing how celebrity journalists will print anything. If it’s funny and silly no one is going to bother suing, and the newspaper is more likely to run it.
- Have a name. This is very important to the journalists as a way of standing up a story (Clint Eastwood’s character in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly would have had real problems here) so make up a fake name. Silly names are also good – please let us know which ones you get away with (Neve O’Loony was our best fake source yet, just so you know the standard you have to aim for)
- Have a phone number. This is extremely important to tabloid hacks, as no-one ever lied who had an operational telephone. Buy a pay as you go sim card for a fiver – you will easily cover the cost with your first story.
Follow these 4 rules and you should have your fake stories running round the world in no time. Additional tips:
Start with a kernel of truth. Do a small amount of research about which celebrity you are intending to make something up about. We found that certain paparazzi websites are updated almost real-time, (mrpaparazzi.com is great for this) so you can get a good handle on which celebrities have been where the night before. The tabloids own gossip pages are also useful for inspiration, and if it’s based on a happening that’s been printed in their own pages then – by some wonderful circular logic – they will naturally believe it to be true. If you create your own story based on real celebrity comings and goings, it is much more likely to stand up. Remember the tabloid journalists you are trying to convince are just sitting in an office looking at the same internet sites as you to back your story up.
Most tabloid celebrity stories are about celebs either doing or saying things. So you can go for a simple “Sarah Harding was drunk coming out of club” or “Lilly Allen said that her new album is great” but these aren’t going to get much traction as these banal titbits fly around all the time. To get something prominent you need to give it an unusual twist. So once you’ve found out that two well known celebs were in a west end club, you need to invent your own details. Maybe they had a tug of war? Maybe someone dazzled there fellow diners with a display of knee slapping, which was only topped by a page 3 model showing off her skill at playing the spoons?
Also avoid anything too fantastical – “Peaches Geldof was seen levitating over the Thames” is unlikely to be picked up by even the most gullible tabloid hack with the possible exception of the Sunday Sport. Then again we have seen some pretty insane stories appearing in recent years, so it’s worth trying something physically impossible every now and then to see if you can get away with it.
Who are you? How did you come across this story? Tabloid journalists prefer eyewitness sources, but they will also accept “my mate told me that” sources as well. Quite often people call up who happened to see something or randomly overhead a quote. Maybe you were on your sisters birthday in Café de Paris when David Walliams farted “God Save the Queen”. Maybe you’re a cab driver and you overheard Jamie Winstone saying he used to be a member of the boyscouts and still goes on camping trips in his shorts and his woggle. Make it potentially believable but keep the details vague, so they don’t have much to pull you up on.
Timing is key. Tabloids have a print cut off between 4-6 pm, so it’s good to wait until the afternoon to call in. This is because they will be sitting there with empty pages to fill and under intense pressure to produce something hot. Also if you call in an hour before they go to press it gives them no time to check your story out.
Who to call? We would always call the same story around several papers, which increases your chances of getting it run.
The Mirror 0800 289 441. Desperate for tips, and probably the easiest paper to get nonsense stories printed. That’s what 10 years of having Piers Morgan as editor will do to a newspaper. Our researcher did so well selling them nonsense that they actually asked her to come in and work for them. Be warned – once we called up to check what the payment would have been for a story that they had run, but they said that they wouldn’t pay anything.
The Daily Star 0208 612 7373. Also pays well for stories. We had several successes here. Also prone to add their own fantastic details which is always good for a laugh.
The Sun – 020 7782 4100. Pretty gullible, but has peculiar print cut off at 10.30 am for showbiz stories. Also pays very well, we would have got £600 for our lead story in the Bizarre column of Sarah Harding being a fan of Quantum Physics.
The Express – 0207 098 2982. Chronically understaffed so lots of opportunity to feed them nonsense. Though in fairness the Sunday Express was the only paper to turn down the medical records sting, so hats off to them.
The Call. It’s worth rehearsing a few times with a friend and practise thinking on your feet. The best liars do so by first convincing themselves (think Tony Blair and Iraq), so try and imagine yourself actually in the club or bar, and get as many details in your head as you can. When you call stay in character and try not to laugh. It’s no good if you start the call as a Geordie and end it as a Scot (though this did happen to us and they still ran the story). They are likely to ask you:
-How you got to see what you saw
-A few details about you
-How much the celebrity had had to drink
-What they were wearing
If they ask anything that you think might rumble you it’s best not to guess. Say you can’t remember, that you were drunk, or that you need to check with your mate and then call them back. Don’t worry too much about sounding unreliable… they print stories from unreliable sources every day of the year.
The money. Prices range form £50 for a couple of lines at the bottom of the page, to £600 for a lead story in the Bizarre column in The Sun. They only pay out for a story when it’s printed, and make sure you get the price agreed in the phone call, and hold them to it (some papers are notorious for reneging on deals, so make sure it’s properly agreed)
To get paid just give them your real bank account details and your fake name and the payment will go through – people have told us this works. They can’t do anything with these details against you and they’ll never find out it was a hoax anyway.
If at first you don’t succeed… keep on trying! Sometimes our calls led nowhere, other times we had several stories running at once. It’s impossible to predict what journalist is going to fall for which story, so it’s best to play the numbers and do lots of stories to lots of papers over time. Have different characters and accents and keep on calling, and remember to let us know of your successes!