Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Buy the magazine or ...

... the entire monolithic world of Islam will rise up as one and kill this cute, helpless puppy!

In case you thought we were just kidding about Fox News, we weren't. Here's an actual cute puppy (you can tell, because not only Fox but the highly reliable Daily Mail, whence the story originates, devotes headline space to pointing out its cuteness) whose only offense is trying to remind you not to call 9-9-9 unless it's an emergency, and what thanks does it get? Outrage! Anger! Furor!

Let's spend a little time on how "Cute police pup outrages Scottish Muslims" got to be the Sixth Most Super-Important Story in the World for Fox. After all, we've got slain pregnant women, missing teens, Iranian terror meddling, Saudi snarkiness about oil prices, the return of the Zodiac killer, and progress in Iraq to deal with. And before Fox goes overseas, it could look to its own affiliate here in Motown, which has actual video of an off-duty cop shooting the teen who tried to carjack him!

What Fox wants you to take away from this is that these people will never fit in. As Fox has relentlessly documented (often with the help of the British press), Muslims hate Barbie, Valentine's Day and children's stories. Cute puppies were only a matter of time.

The role of the British press is worth a bit of attention, because British press practice is often a lot different to what we're used to here in the colonies. What we do around here is called the "inverted pyramid" for a reason: broad assertion goes on top, then comes some evidence to support it, then some more evidence. What the Mail (and, to be fair, the still-respected-for-some-bizarre-reason Times) excels at is making the assertion, then conveniently leaving out the parts where your average American journalist would put some sort of quote or comment that actually supports the lede. Here's the Mail:

A postcard featuring a cute puppy sitting in a policeman's hat advertising a Scottish police force's new telephone number has sparked outrage from Muslims.

It'd be second nature for your average US J-grad (you guys can go ahead and check in if you want to) to, you know, follow up with some Tayside Muslims expressing their outrage.* Take it away, Daily Mail Reporter!

Dundee councillor Mohammed Asif said: 'My concern was that it's not welcomed by all communities, with the dog on the cards.'

Shock outrage furor.... er, not welcome!

'It was probably a waste of resources going to these communities.'

Furor outrage shock ... could we talk to some of his constituents, please?

Well, the short answer is "no," and there's a reason for that. If you start asking people direct questions about whether your lede is true, you might find out that it isn't. Much better to just sort of waltz around, tossing in the occasional quote that sounds sort of like it might be kind of close to the topic. That's one of those British journalistic skills that we can only look on and despair.

So a reminder, from yesterday's entry. Some news organizations screw up every now and then (and spare a kind thought for your friends in peril at McClatchy; they're trying to cover the same amount of front with 10% less infantry than they had a month ago). Some news organizations make stuff up as a matter of policy. Guess which one Fox is?

* Extending it to all the Muslims in Scotland is Fox's doing. There's a lot to be said for enterprise.

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5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not for nothing is one of Boris Johnson's favourite ways of rejecting a story to call it "an inverted pyramid of piffle".

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