Monday, 13 January 2014

Newspapers are there to make a profit, not to provide accurate news.

It is sometimes easy to forget that the primary aim of a newspaper is to make money. We tend to believe what we read most of the time, but a lot of caution is needed. Often, accurate reporting comes second to getting the paper produced and when the pressure is on to meet deadlines, if that means an article is not accurate, then it seems many newspapers don't really worry about that too much.

Of course, as readers, we only really discover this when we have first-hand knowledge of something and we are able to compare the true facts with what a newspaper says about it.

Take the Daily Mail reporting today that the Pope is selling his Harley-Davidson.

The headline alone is mis-leading. It links Harley-Davidson motorcycles to Hells Angels. "The father, son and the Harley ghost: Pope proves he's no Hells Angel by selling his Harley Davidson to give proceeds to the poor".

This link is somewhat unfair to most Harley-Davidson owners, as many that I know, who would not sell their own Harley-Davidson's, are most definitely not Hells Angels.

The reporter cannot even spell Harley-Davidson properly. Nor can he spell angels it seems. Further down in the piece, he spells it as "Hells Angles". Oh dear.

The caption underneath one of the pictures states "At the time the Pope laid his hands on a disabled Angel...." I happen to know the man pictured is not a Hells Angel, but a HOG member. Similarly, the article goes on to say "Four days after the gifts were given to him, Francis blessed a crowd of Hells Angle bikers in a congregation at an open air mass in St Peter's Square". Really? There were many thousands of HOG members there, but to suggest these were Hells Angles (sic) is somewhat ludicrous.

So, the reporter, Chris Pleasance, has some facts right, but has largely embellished the article with untrue references to Hells Angels to spice it up somewhat. Either that or he simply didn't check the facts. Whichever is the case, it is very shoddy reporting.

Sadly, this is not the first time I have experienced poor reporting of something I personally knew about. I would say that I have read about six or so articles about things I had good knowledge of.  In every case, I have read the newspaper reports and was amazed at how inaccurate they were.

Don't believe everything you read in the papers!


VStar Lady said...

Gary is there anyone left who really believes what they read in the newspaper? But let's see if I can guess the facts: Pope gets two Harleys and a leather vest/jacket, Pope blesses a bunch of folks in leather vests and donates one Harley (complete with signed gas tank) to charity, alright. So I'm left wondering; why did Harley-Davidson decide to give two motorcycles to the Pope ... except they wanted publicity, and there's no such thing as bad publicity. Did they also give motorcycles to, selected from a random list,the Dali Lama, John Upton, Gary Paterson, Ephraim Mirvis, Herber Jentzsch and why didn't they give one to Henry Fonda?

Gary France said...

VStar Lady – Sadly, I think the same also applies to much of the news on television as well. You guesses are spot on. Harley-Davidson donated those items in a big blaze of publicity and no matter how bizarre the thought that the Pope might want or need a large motorcycle, the publicity was very good for them. Even the selling of one of the motorcycles gives Harley-Davidson great publicity – very few will be interested in the charity being able to raise money from the sale, but millions will want to hear how much the bike sold for at auction.

Chiller tek said...

Just a well the pope wasn't out riding his Harley in Queensland with 3 mates. He could have been thrown in jail for 3 years for that offence under the new VLAD laws here. Rediculous.

Most media outlets these days have there own agendas and can't be believed.

Trobairitz said...

Sensationalism at its finest.

They try to come up with a witty headline but fail most of the time leaving the public to shake their heads and wonder what they were thinking and/or offending their readers.

Do they really think that sells papers?

Dan Diego said...

Newspapers exist to push a political agenda; that's always what the media has been there for. Always.

Even now when the print media is going bust, political organizations subsidize many publications in order to sell their platform.

Many publications make no money from subscription sales--zero--and it's been like that for decades. Most if not all revenue comes from ad sales.

To illustrate this point, pick an item in the national news. Now, go to MSNBC/CNN/PBS, etc. and Fox and see the difference in the spin.

It is what it is.

Pick a media outlet that you trust and go with that.

(I’ll let you in on a secret: It’s all lies.)

Doug said...

Any non-motorcycle outlet is required to work as many motorcycle clichés into a story as they can. Since they are willfully ignorant it's all they can do to try and make the article appeal to the other ignorants out there.

Robert Wilson said...

I am not that upset about it. It was shoddy reporting and most likely a filler piece. You pointed out a lot of simple errors which tell me that piece was thrown together at the last moment because the publisher needed to fill in a couple of inchs or so of unsold ad space.

Dr. Flash Tattoos said...

Newspaper nowadays tend to sensationalize even the most trivial matter. As long as they get to print something, all they have to do is make a catchy headline and away they go.

Barry said...

a newspaper is outdated the moment the ink hits the paper

that said the Daily Mail vexes me- they have occasional gold nuggets buried among what is mostly celebrity-driven tripe