Tuesday 23 April 2013

Broadchuch: At last something we're not to blame for. by Elfin Mackenzie.

So there was an amazing twist at the end of Broadchurch after all: a journalist WASN'T the killer. Everything in the programme until that point had led me to believe that our profession would end up carrying the can for Danny's murder as well as all the other incidents of intrusion, fatal hounding, theft etc that our fictional colleagues were shown indulging in.
Broadchurch, as has widely been remarked, was unrealistic on any number of levels - in the last episode alone the physical and then verbal attack on the killer while under arrest must have had police custody sergeants everywhere shaking their heads in disbelief. And it was unfair in its portrayal of many professions - the paedophile news agent, coke-pushing seductress hotelier etc. But it really most consistently dumped on, perhaps unsurprisingly, journalists.
Following Leveson, who else is so ready-made vilified for villainy? This show trial saw the public drip-fed day after day of (largely unchallenged) smears against journalists - we burgled Hugh's flat, stuffed notes into JK's kids' rucksacks etc etc. The inquiry cherry-picked the worst examples of professional conduct over several decades, largely ignoring the normal, decent stuff. Many journalists will have felt that by the end of this they were left just a notch above child molesters in the public perception.
Well Broadchurch took us beyond that - in this setting, if anything, the journalists were more despicable than the child molesters..
Here the two paedophile characters were both given sympathetic back stories - one was guilty only by the merest technicality (a few more days and it'd have been legal - and anyway he loved her forever after in a true and admirable way); the other may have been a killer but it was sort of accidental and anyway he never 'did anything' to Danny or any other minor; he loved his son sincerely. They were, as paedophiles go, rather nice
In contrast to the sanitising of the paedophiles, the portrayal of journalism was anything but nice.
Karen White, the Daily Herald journalist (for me, openly a fictional Daily Mail), was the personification of heartless ambition. She stole a soft toy from the tributes to Danny, used a completely against PCC approach (which would have meant instant dismissal in real life) to his bereaved 15 year old sister as leverage to buy up the victim's family then misled that family as to what such a piece would involve. But was her vile behaviour really her fault when she was under such pressure from her grotesque editor at the Herald who bullied and threatened her - and rewrote her copy to make it misleading?
And supporting this ghastly pair were a pack of unnamed photographers and hacks who thought nothing of jostling a bereaved mother on her way into church, or of taking pictures through the windows of private residence at which a dead child's memorial service was being held. Leveson had to go back almost 30 years to hear even a hint of such conduct - and even then in a testimony I know many journalists found highly questionable. One friend of mine remarked after the 'papping the memorial' episode: "I worked at the sharp end of Fleet Street for 40 years, doing countless funerals and death knocks, and I have NEVER seen anyone behave like this."
Olly Stevens, the young local reporter, was Karen's willing accomplice. From his insensitive 'naming Danny' tweet in Episode One, putting professional ambition before family loyalty, he was depicted as insensitive and frequently stupid. But was it really any wonder - he was begot by a drug addict liar after all.
Olly and Karen sealed their gruesome-twosome status with the inevitable shag. Afterwards he made an incongruous and jarring joke about anal sex. Charming.
And, crucially, together Olly and Karen identified Jack Marshall as a possible suspect. In outing him as a (relatively wholesome) sex offender, they set in chain a media hounding - front pages of 'real' national newspapers were shown outing Jack - that would lead to him taking his own death. Would this really have happened? No. It is almost inconceivable that newspapers would even be able to identify his past in these circumstances and even if they could, would they really splash the previous conviction of someone not even identified as a suspect? Their lawyers wouldn't let them even if they wanted to.
The appearance that this was a credible portrayal of the real media at work was enhanced by cameos from ITN news reader Mark Austin. Did he read the script before he agreed to take part in such a stitch up of his own profession? I do hope not.
Jack's death was the worst of it. But the programme was riddled with absurd inaccuracies: the murder of an 11 year old boy on a tourist beach was not a a story of national interest until Karen's interview splash. Yeah right - no one would cover that. The local paper had apparently only two staff, a wily editor and a rookie reporter, which, even in these hard times, seems a bit light; there were no deadlines, ever. People filed when they felt like it, if they filed at all. Most implausibly of all perhaps was the direct phone call from the chief copper to Karen after he'd finally cracked the case. Try that in April 2013 and you'd find yourself getting dawn raided by your own colleagues for misconduct in a public office, dodgy ticker or no.
In fact during the whole series the only moment that rang remotely true was when the more senior hack persuaded the more junior to do all the work on a story for which she would get the byline; now that at least I could believe.
Earlier this month the actress who played Karen, Vicky McClure, was unveiled as an ambassador for a charity, the Sophie Lancaster Foundation, which campaigns to criminalise hate attacks on young people like Goths and Emos who are often harassed and assaulted by strangers. It's a cause with which I have a good deal of sympathy. I really do.

Wednesday 27 March 2013

The Hysteria around Lucy Meadows - An Alternative View

UPDATE: The anonymous tabloid hack behind the Lucy Meadows blog - who will henceforth be known by the pen name of Elfin MacKenzie - is in the process of compiling an article on TV's Broadchurch, which should be ready for publication sometime next week. Many thanks to those who - despite holding a less than complimentary view of tabloid newspapers - were prepared to tweet links to this blog so that the public could see both sides of the debate.

The following is a blog written by an anonymous national newspaper hack who - as you will learn from reading it to the end - has more insight than most into the events before, during, and after the tragic death of Lucy Meadows.

'There is a petition in circulation which has now had 180,000 signatures in just a few days. It's entitled: "The Daily Mail: Fire Richard Littlejohn for victimizing Lucy Meadows, possibly leading to her committing suicide.

"You've probably heard about it. Transgender teacher Lucy is widely reported to have killed herself last week after being harassed over Christmas and New Year last by a pack of press - and insulted and belittled by columnist Littlejohn. On Monday there was a vigil outside The Daily Mail's offices demanding his dismissal."

A blog published by The Guardian newspaper earlier this week (26/3) begins: 'Her emails show she was stalked by journalists: "I'm just glad they didn't realise I also have a back door. I was usually in school before the press arrived and stayed until late so I could avoid them going home" Parents were offered money for photos of her. It's a wonder she even got out of bed in the morning – I doubt I could.'

The original report into her death in The Guardian published last week begins: "Lucy Meadows became pretty good at avoiding the press. She slipped out of her back door before the paparazzi arrived and crept round to school long before lessons started, staying in the classroom way after hometime. But it was difficult, the primary school teacher told a friend via email in January, knowing there was a price on her head. "I know the press offered parents money if they could get a picture of me," she wrote on New Year's Day, just before she contacted the Press Complaints Commission (PCC), asking for journalists and photographers to stop hanging around outside her school and home"

(Incidentally The Guardian accompany their article with a photograph of Lucy's school taken by Cavendish Press - the very press agency that they allege were stalking her presumably taken at the very moment they were doorstepping her.)

The Independent's report referred to her being 'hounded' in its headline. "Transgender primary school teacher who 'took own life' had sought protection from media hounding before her death"

Even usually well-balanced influential blogger David Allen Green seemed not to even question the idea that she was hounded by the press. "At the moment we do not know how she died and, if it was the case that she took her own life, what the releveant circumstances were. But what we do know is that Lucy Meadows was monstered by tabloid newspapers when news emerged that she was transitioning from male to female. Suddenly she became...a figure in sensational news reporting."

And Hugh Grant and Alastair Campbell have used the case as yet another stick with which to beat the press, the former retweeting claims that Lucy was 'monstered' and the latter tweeting: "I hope journalists are doorstepping Dacre, Murdoch and Littlejohn for their reaction to Lucy Meadows' suicide."

Yet there are problems with all this assumption of 'monstering' and 'hounding'.

Firstly the dates. Having read a selection of the coverage above, over how long a period would you think Lucy was pursued by rabid packs of journalists and photographers? A week? Two weeks?

In fact the answer seems to be one day, at most two. The story broke via a local newspaper on Wednesday 19 December 2012 and was picked up to be published in a handful of regional and national newspapers - The Manchester Evening News, Metro, The Daily Mail, The Sun, The Daily Express, The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Star - the following day. Most have exactly the same quotes which suggests they relied on the same agency report and did not send their own staff reporters to cover the story.

It was never, apart form the Littlejohn column the next day, Friday 21st, followed up anywhere - or ever returned to, until Lucy's death.

The school broke up on Friday 21st December - so the maximum number of days when Lucy could have been staying late and going through the back garden to get to and from work while avoiding pursuit was two.
And how many reporters or photographers were involved? A dozen? 20? More?

The news editor of a national newspapers who covered the initial story said: "It wasn't a very big story for us at all. We went out on it for one day only. The local agency, Cavendish, did too. From what I can establish the Mail didn't even send anyone. There was only a handful of people there for one day, two or three. I have no idea where the suggestion that parents were offered bribes for a picture comes from. It just doesn't ring true. We didn't ask anyone to do that and I'm sure no one else did. You'd just get in trouble."

And this suggestion is borne out by the cuttings: the coverage was typically not as high profile or as anti-Lucy as you may have been led to believe by The Guardian and Independent.

The Sun, for instance, carried the story only only page 35. It barely ran to 150 words and was relatively balanced in its view on whether parents were for or against the teacher's decision to come back in the January term as a woman.

Its parental reaction in full was as follows: 'Parents had a mixed reaction to the announcement. Dad-of-three Wayne Cowie, 35, said Nathan [Lucy's name before her announcement], who has taught at the school for four years, had been seen dressed as a woman while shopping in the town.

He added his son was now coming back from school "asking about transvestites. My lad is very confused and upset about it." But Rebecca Briggs, 33, who has two children at the school, said: "There are only three people who have complained. The rest of us fully support Mr Upton and his transition. All the children love him and will continue to do so when he is Miss Meadows.".'

Despite the widespread depiction of the Press Complaints Commission being toothless, in fact newspapers live in fear of having an adjudication made against them and almost invariably leave someone alone as soon as requested.

As the PCC website explains: "In cases where someone is in a particularly vulnerable state and does not wish to speak to a journalist, we can help by sending out a message to editors making clear that the person does not wish to speak, before any such approach is made.." In practice this process takes place in just a few hours. If Lucy had requested 'the dogs be called off', they would have been - that very day.
Finally there is the question of culpability, whether this alleged hounding and the comments by Richard Littlejohn, as the petition puts it, "possibly led to Lucy Meadows committing suicide."

The very underpinning premise of all of this - that Lucy was hounded into killing herself - would itself fall foul of the key media rules on reporting apparent suicides as per The Samaritans' media guidance. One clause here advises: "Avoid simplistic explanations for suicide....although a catalyst may appear to be obvious, suicide is never the result of a single factor or event and is likely to have several inter-related causes.

Accounts which try to explain a suicide on the basis of a single incident, for example unrequited romantic feelings, should be challenged."

I have investigated and written this as a defence of legitimate and lawful news gathering. I make no comment on Littlejohn. But like or loathe him - and from what I have read this week thousands of people want him not just sacked but dead - I think anyone who claims he caused Lucy's death is as guilty of wrong reporting as the very newspapers they hold in such contempt.

Post script: 20 minutes after I finished writing this I read that the inquest into Lucy's death, as is normal, had been opened and adjourned without hearing evidence. But one new fact which did emerge was that Lucy had attempted to take her own life at least twice before. Coroner Michael Singleton told the short hearing: “I understand there have been previous attempts to commit suicide. I don’t know if they are relevant or not.”

It remains to be seen if those attempts pre-date any publicity. I wonder if anyone from The Guardian or Independent will resign if they do.' By Elfin MacKenzie.

Tuesday 19 February 2013

Tim Ireland Blog Removed

Due to a complaint from Jellyfish about the use of some of their pages on the blog which exposed how Tim Ireland was using the firm's resources to attack their own clients, Google has removed the post.

Suffice to say it will be put back up somewhere very soon - without the Jellyfish pages so as to not infringe their copyright.

Over and out.

Tuesday 12 February 2013

Just Who is Richard Bartholomew (Besides being another abusive internet Troll that is)?

UPDATE: Two anonymous trolls have asked to have comments published in which they abuse TT for being an anonymous troll. If either promises to see the irony of such a request TT promises to re consider their pleas (before telling them where to go).

The first thing that should be said about this blog entry is that it has been a long time coming. Richard Bartholomew AKA @Barthsnotes is an unemployed librarian who has been smearing and slandering TT for 12 months.

For victims such as the MP Nadine Dorries and Glen Jenvey the online stalking and abuse from this bespectacled buffoon has gone on for much longer.

All the while Bartholomew has done this under the presumption that no-one can find him.

Well that ends today.

It should also be observed that several tweeters and bloggers have pointed out that no expose on Tim Ireland would be complete without writing a line or two on his fellow online stalker-in-chief. Bartholomew too has posted abusive tweets and blogs about witnesses to the Leveson Inquiry, while all the while telling more than a few porkies of his own.

Laughably he whimpered last that TT was "threatening his family" by simply saying that he was going to be writing about him next.

Well @Barthnotes the only risk here is others seeing what a very, very sad man you are.

                                         JUST WHO IS RICHARD BARTHOLOMEW?

For a start he isn't very different from Tim Ireland, in that he is a classic under achiever who regularly attacks others for no reason other than they appear to be more successful than himself (not hard).

And as with @Bloggerheads he has the coward's pack mentality when it comes to attacking the weak and the vulnerable.

Take, for example, this blog he wrote on former activist Glen Jenvey knowing full well the latter was in the midst of a having a nervous breakdown.

And again here in the same blog - in which Bartholomew callously mentions how Mr Jenvey has talked of suicide:

Comparisons between the two don't end there, however.

@Barthsnotes appears to take the same childish view of the world which says he can freely attack others without any of it coming back to him.

Foolishly he also assumes that because he has a relatively common name, it will be impossible to find him.

Take, for example, this typically oddball entryon the website

 Well guess what? TT has.

The picture and bio are definitely right - but the place is very definitely wrong. Another example, perhaps, of how @Barthsnotes thinks he can hide from the people he abuses on the internet.

In fact an advert in the Hastings edition of Friday Ad reveals his true wherabouts - with Bartholomew advertising offering ghost writing services (shurely shome mishtake) from a local phone number.

That number is the landline for the home this oddball in his forties shares with his elderly mother Rosemary, secretary of the Hastings Writers Group from whence @Barthsnotes tries so hard to hide at their fortnightly meetings.

Indeed Bartholomew gives the same area for his location on a very odd sounding dating website:

Bartholomew describes his blog as a blog about religion but it is principally a political blog. It takes an anti-Christian line attacking low-hanging Christian victims such as African preachers and US Bible belt cranks. 

He has also been known to work with al Qaeda supporting blogs such as the now removed to get ammo on his Christian and Jewish victims. Some of Bartholomew’s smears are highly personal and he is decidedly dishonest.

The religious posts are cover for the blog’s real purpose which is attacking the likes of US-based Jewish researcher Robert Spence, the Conservative Party and the anti Islamist English Defence League. 

Bartholomew is very wary about putting his personal details on the web and revels in anonymity yet he still smears and slanders innocent people and is so brazen as to condemn anonymous internet attacks. So it is just and fitting that his victims should know the following details about him and where he resides so they can finally take legal action against this sad, middle-aged loser:

The Bartholomews’ property has a value in the region of £197,000.00 but the property is in his mother’s name. His mother, a divorcee, rents out rooms to lodgers at this property to help make ends meet. 

Indeed, she has even published a book on how to do so. Sadly, it hasn't done  too well and she’s trying to sell all the unsold copies have ended up on EBay.

Bartholomew is listed as a member of the Society of Indexers and is a qualified librarian - quite appropriate for a keyboard warrior on twitter.

For some extraordinary reason, Bartholomew worked for a few months as a visiting lecturer several years ago at the School of Oriental & African Studiesin London after working with a TEFL qualification as an English teacher in Japan. He also once posted a blog for the Guardian Newspaper but the Guardian Group has since disassociated from him. 

Bartholomew is unemployed (though he would call himself self-employed) and has a patchy financial history and benefits record. He seems to own very few assets. It seems his day job is helping out at the boarding house him Mum runs. 

The plain facts of the matter - and one he is desperate to keep hidden - is that @Barthsnotes is a sad, deluded leftist with no scruples who for years has hidden behind the fallen blogger and stalker Tim Ireland.

He deserves to be exposed. His anonymity has now officially ended.