Studying as I am to become a journalist, I tend to find myself not only reading or viewing news stories, but also criticising them as well. I use the word criticise not only to offer a negative view of a story, but also a positive one. However, today I saw a link provided to the following story written by Liz Jones for the Daily Mail:
I would urge you to read that piece of journalism, and then tell me how on earth that woman got paid for it. It’s awful.
If I’ve put you off reading it, it’s an article whereby Jones describes a night where she retraces the steps of the murdered Joanna Yeates on the evening of her death.
Why? What the hell has it got to do with Liz Jones? Joanna Yeates’ killer is still at large, and with the wounds of her tragic murder still obviously stinging her family and friends, Jones and The Daily Mail have opted to pour a bumper bag of salt into those cuts with this belittling trivialisation of her final hours.
Some soundbites from the offending article:
“I wish she had spent what were probably her last hours on earth somewhere lovelier. The food is awful (I ask for a veggie burger and it comes without the burger – and without the bun!) but the young women behind the bar are sweet with huge, wary eyes.”
Oh, that’s really interesting, Liz. Thanks for that.
“She [a girl Jones has met in the bar] was working in the bar on the night of December 17, when Joanna was having a drink before heading home. ‘I don’t remember her,’ she says.”
So your interviewee has offered what to the story? That’s right: nothing.
“I find Tesco, and go in. I almost buy that upmarket pizza; the choice tells me Jo wanted a lovely life, something above the ordinary.”
Of course, the pizza demonstrates everybody’s hopes and dreams.
“Isn’t it interesting that you can snatch a young woman’s life away from her in the most violent, painful, frightening way possible, take away her future children, her future Christmases, take away everything she loves, and yet there are elaborate systems in place to ensure you do not cross a bridge for only 30 pence?
Finally, a man in a taxi jumps out, and runs to me brandishing a 50p piece.
‘Not all men are monsters,’ he says, grinning. Maybe not. But one monster is all it takes.”
So now we’re comparing a murder to the dodging of a bridge toll fare? This really is journalism at it’s worst.
I’m no fan of the Daily Mail, but this is horrendous even for them. It feels like one of those classic ‘so bad it’s good’ pieces, but then I think it comes full circle and becomes ‘so bad’ again.
Thankfully I’m not alone in my thoughts, as this parody of the story on The Daily Mash website indicates.