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Daily Mail loses advertising revenue after homophobic Gately article backlash

category international | gender and sexuality | feature author Tuesday October 20, 2009 18:14author by tampon - ( iosaf ) Report this post to the editors

featured image
Stephen Gately's Funeral
Photo © Michael Gallagher

Today's (October 16th) edition of the English newspaper "The Daily Mail" carried an opinion piece by the English journalist Jan Moir. The homophobia and inherent hatred voiced in the article led to an extraordinary amount of comments on that newspaper's website which together with reaction from other newspapers saw the title of the article changed by mid afternoon. By late afternoon an internet campaign had begun to pressure advertisers who use the Daily Mail to cut their support.

The loss of revenue to the English newspaper might be the most serious blow to its editorial policy of articulating and pandering to middle English prejudice ever. As such the article which prompted this reaction merits archiving.

Homosexuality was once known throughout Europe as the English vice. Why it was so is as curious as the notion that to this day "French" is a code word for felatio in the sex trade. We have no reason to believe that felatio was ever a peculiarly French sexual activity no more than we could suspect the English had any more homosexuals in their population. I suspect the English vice terminology came about more as a slur on English intolerance of homosexual men and women in their midst. I have often thought it a peculiar exception of the shared history of the island nations of Ireland and Britain that the history of gender sexuality should have been so strikingly different. The Irish as a people have never shown as much hatred for homosexuals of male or female gender as their neighbours whereas the English went to bitter lengths to criminalise and ostracise homosexuality.

Long before the story of Irishman Oscar Wilde or even the story of Irishwomen Eleanor Butler & Sarah Ponsonby [the Ladies of Llangollen c/f http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ladies_of_Llangollen the vitriol which still churns in the belly of the most redoubt English heartlands as articulated now by its newspaper "The Daily Mail" could be seen. Why else did we mark recently the posthumous apology offered Alan Turing, the master cryptographer of Bletchley Park, one of the fathers of computing & man subjected to chemical castration? http://www.indymedia.ie/article/94021

Jan Moir's hate piece today was originally published in print and on the web with the title "Why there was nothing 'natural' about Stephen Gately's death." The title has since been changed (at 16h14 Irish time) on the online edition to "A strange, lonely and troubling death . . ."

Moir argued that healthy 33 year old men do not put on their pyjamas and fall asleep on the sofa to never awake and implied that Gately death had something to do with his homosexuality, the club he had visited in Mallorca and then somehow thought it made sense to argue that his death was of itself a reason to oppose "civil partnerships" which is the British equivalent of gay marriage.

It is an irony that Gatesly and his partner had chosen to live in a state, (the Spanish state) where marriage is considered to be equal in rights and duties regardless of gender. As has often been noted by the homophobes the most liberal gay marriage law on Earth and as has often been noted by lawyers the simplest legislation to present : "regardless of gender" was only three words to sort out the mess.

Jan Moir wrote :-
Something is terribly wrong with the way this incident has been shaped and spun into nothing more than an unfortunate mishap on a holiday weekend... The sugar coating on this fatality is so saccharine-thick that it obscures whatever bitter truth lies beneath. Healthy and fit 33-year-old men do not just climb into their pyjamas and go to sleep on the sofa, never to wake up again.Whatever the cause of death is, it is not, by any yardstick, a natural one."


The Irish Independent and Belfast Telegraph, each a rag raised in the traditions of late 19th century Irish politicians, the former championing William Martin Murphy a stalwart of Roman Catholicism, the latter still holding true to the tradition of Edward Carson who prosecuted Oscar Wilde - had already published in their coverage of Stephen Gately's death the words of his mother.

She felt that his death, found to be natural by the coroner and specified as having been caused by a pulmonary oedema or build-up of fluid in the lung could have been a long undetected risk of a hereditary heart condition carried in Stephen's father's family.
http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/entertainment/music/n....html
Presumedly then, his sexual orientation and death means only one thing - that he bred no sons who might carry this condition & die suddenly and unexpectedly despite seeming in Moir's words to be "Healthy and fit 33-year-old men". Historically & I write historically in the same wide brush as I nod to the problem of what "The English vice" meant - Pulmonary Oedemas or "the dropsy" has been as cruel and sudden a killer of the seemingly healthy as "apoplexy" or cerebral aneurysm.

They may strike any one of us down without warning & kill us almost instantly :- all of us - you, I, our neighbours, the Daily Mail's Jean Moir & really these conditions which are so cruel and sudden as to have never made mention in the scripts of the TV series "House" do nothing more for social legislative debate about partnership than encourage us all to write wills & testaments, take out life insurance and organise our funeral rituals to our liking.

As I write now, the Daily Mail article by Jan Moir has sparked over 700 comments. This is a record for one day's commenting on the website of that newspaper.
You can read it here http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1220756/A-str...WfOy5

In addition the article has sparked coverage and reaction in many other newspapers.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/greenslade/2009/oct/16/...447af
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/oct/16/ste...-moir

Marks & Spencers that shop which prides itself in selling first bras and underwear more than expensive precooked meals was this morning the principle advertiser visible on the Daily Mail webpage where the article appeared.

They have now withdrawn their revenue.

Due perhaps in no small part to the commentators who attacked Jan Moir on her newspaper's website and equally to those who connected with this FaceBook page set up to put pressure on the Mail's advertisers.

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=151083562155&ref=...share

author by pucapublication date Fri Oct 16, 2009 20:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

M&S have pulled their ads from the particular web page where the story appears and moved them elsewhere on the Mail site as far as I know. They have not pulled their revenue from the Mail. This story is probably driving up traffic to their website and so may well increase rather than decrease revenue. For people campaigning to have ad revenue pulled from the Mail this should be kept in mind.

author by teeny bopperpublication date Fri Oct 16, 2009 21:17author address author phone Report this post to the editors

We can go to UK Press Complaints Commission website to lodge a complaint about Moir's article on the basis that it breaches sections 1, 5 and 12 of its code.

1] Accuracy :

i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures.

ii) A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion once recognised must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and - where appropriate - an apology published.

iii) The Press, whilst free to be partisan, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.

iv) A publication must report fairly and accurately the outcome of an action for defamation to which it has been a party, unless an agreed settlement states otherwise, or an agreed statement is published.

5] Intrusion into grief or shock:

(i) In cases involving personal grief or shock, enquiries and approaches must be made with sympathy and discretion and publication handled sensitively. This should not restrict the right to report legal proceedings, such as inquests.

12]
Discrimination:

(i) The press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual's race, colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability.

ii) Details of an individual's race, colour, religion, sexual orientation, physical or mental illness or disability must be avoided unless genuinely relevant to the story.

go here to make a complaint :
http://www.pcc.org.uk/

author by Jan Moirpublication date Fri Oct 16, 2009 21:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Some people, particularly in the gay community, have been upset by my article about the sad death of Boyzone member Stephen Gately. This was never my intention. Stephen, as I pointed out in the article was a charming and sweet man who entertained millions.

However, the point of my column-which, I wonder how many of the people complaining have fully read - was to suggest that, in my honest opinion, his death raises many unanswered questions. That was all. Yes, anyone can die at anytime of anything. However, it seems unlikely to me that what took place in the hours immediately preceding Gately's death - out all evening at a nightclub, taking illegal substances, bringing a stranger back to the flat, getting intimate with that stranger - did not have a bearing on his death. At the very least, it could have exacerbated an underlying medical condition.

The entire matter of his sudden death seemed to have been handled with undue haste when lessons could have been learned. On this subject, one very important point. When I wrote that 'he would want to set an example to any impressionable young men who may want to emulate what they might see as his glamorous routine', I was referring to the drugs and the casual invitation extended to a stranger. Not to the fact of his homosexuality. In writing that 'it strikes another blow to the happy-ever-after myth of civil partnerships' I was suggesting that civil partnerships - the introduction of which I am on the record in supporting - have proved just to be as problematic as marriages.

In what is clearly a heavily orchestrated internet campaign I think it is mischievous in the extreme to suggest that my article has homophobic and bigoted undertones.

author by Áinepublication date Sat Oct 17, 2009 09:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Credit where credit is due in this case, the quick and vocal response to Moir's article was created in no more than an hour via Twitter. I'm sure we're all quite used to social networking sites stirring up reactions like these pretty quickly but I must say that even I was surprised at the speed and level of this, which was spearheaded quite incredibly by Stephen Fry, Derren Brown and the Guardian's Charlie Brooker. Charlie Brooker's response in particular is a very good one and although the OP posted already, I urge everyone to read it: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/oct/16/ste...-moir

I must say though, I fear people letting this get a little too far out of hand. Complaining to the IPCC is the right move, in my opinion. Reporting Moir to the police for supposedly inciting hate, which I heard tell of last night, is taking a step too far in this case. I personally believe that the article (which I have read fully, contrary to Moir's own scepticism) was pure stupidity - she argues against scientific evidence to suggest that something else must have happened to Gately. This annoys me solely on the basis that she is speculating with no evidence, rejecting professional conclusions, but also because of the idiotic belief that celebrities can't just die like any of the rest of us. Is it only me who is getting sick of the idea that when someone is famous and dies, something sinister must be the cause? Regardless, it was stupid. It was also somewhat homophobic - I don't necessarily think it was intended to be. However, Gately's sexuality was completely irrelevant to his death, and by alluding to it at all, Moir suggests that this is a topic clearly worthy of some sort of controversy. Further, her references to those who have entered civil partnerships and died tragically are one-sided. Most importantly, the article was insensitive. Not only because it chose to poke a wound that may have been healing after the cause of death had been concluded, but also because it was published on the day of Gately's funeral.
The family claim not to have read the article, will not read the article but know what is contained within it and are "very, very disappointed". They supposedly will not make a complaint.

Anyway, I'm rambling - I just think that people should maintain a level head in the wake of this controversy. Going mad with it will only mean not being taking seriously. I read this article last night, and I think it's a useful reference point: http://broadstuff.com/archives/1920-Jan-Moir,-the-Web,-....html

author by Sue Denhampublication date Sat Oct 17, 2009 17:39author address author phone Report this post to the editors

cos thre Press Complaints Commission website has a link that says ...

IF YOU ARE COMPLAINING ABOUT THE JAN MOIR PIECE IN THE DAILY MAIL PLEASE CLICK HERE.

Related Link: http://www.pcc.org.uk/complaints/process.html
author by spellerpublication date Sun Oct 18, 2009 01:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Gately

author by groanpublication date Sun Oct 18, 2009 13:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Another dodgy English newspaper "The Telegraph" published a list of the 50 most annoying things about the internet last week. number 1 is the almost scientifically demonstrable fact that "As an [online] discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one." So states Godwin's Law, the observation first made in 1990 that still stands today. Many online communities counter this moronic rhetorical device by ruling that the first person to make a Hitler comparison loses the argument by default. "

Point 14 is this :- "Comment pedantry"
If the US Constitution had been published online, you can be sure that the first comments would have picked apart the spelling mistakes, and blamed the slapdash attitude of Adams, Jefferson et al for undermining the prospects of the nation. Some commenters seem blinded to the essence of online offerings by their irresistible urge to mark.


So if the last commentator can point out the spelling error in the article and title fulfilling number 14 - it only seems fair to say the Daily Mail and Jan Muir are worse than Hitler and the Nazis and leave the last link as the following :-
http://home.comcast.net/~wolfand/

if it pisses you off too much just hit "ESC" till it ends.

author by Michael Gallagherpublication date Sun Oct 18, 2009 15:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It's not that often that people get to the heights of 'stardom' and achievment from working class areas with the reputation that the Sheriff Street locality has. Although some of the problems there are in the extreme, the amount of positive things going on in the community far outweigh the negative, but hardly get a mention in rags like the Daily Mail. The article in that paper is just one example of how a lot of the right wing media show their true colours in the way they try to sensationlise certain stories, a typical media trick in getting more publicity for their rags. Celebrities are easy pickings for these so called journalists. If the Mail reporter has any principles at all, she would apologise to Stepehen Gately's family.

I met Stephen in the early nineties at a dance competition, -not long before Boyzone became well known- and he came across as a very grounded, confident, pleasent and positive young man. Reminding me to "Make sure you have the name right." if the photos I took were ever published.
Talking to some of the locals on both days of the funeral, the respect, pride and admiration that came through for Stephen and his achievements were in abundance. Anything that showed their North Wall community in a positive light was always appreciated.
Some people had being waiting up to five hours for the hearse to arrive, one incident though, really brought home to me about how well intentioned and positive that community is.

On Friday evening as the hearse approached the church, people around "hushed" the muttering crowd and you could hear a pin drop. After a few seconds, a young boy broke the silence when he shouted at the top of his voice while running to his mother, "Mammy mammy, I forgot to do me homework"! A few of us within earshot just laughed, a radio reporter was visibly moved. The boy was only about five or six years old.

Their are many more talented children like Stephen Gately, Luke Kelly etc that will come to the fore, all they need is a fair chance.

author by spellerpublication date Sun Oct 18, 2009 23:19author address author phone Report this post to the editors

People would have been right to complain if there were mis-spellings. I presume even a self-righteous fool would feel a change would be in order if the founding fathers had spelled it "Declatarion of Interpendence"

author by tampon - ( iosaf )publication date Tue Oct 20, 2009 13:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

In a new twist to the story which ought make us think about the operation of franchises of British tabloid newspaper titles in Ireland, especially one of such undoubted English heartland prejudice (be it English of the home counties or the English ex-patriot community considering the Daily Mail is the most bought English newspaper in Spain & Portugal thanks to the swathes of territory occupied by British pensioners) the "Irish Daily Mail" has protested that it is completely seperate from the English one.

Since the Guardian played such a role in the reaction to Muir's column (20,000+ complaints now made) I think their coverage ought be linked to http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/oct/20/jan-moir-ir...-mail

Oh! & I apologise for mis-spelling Gately's name in the article. However, I do not apologise for misspelling Muir's. hee hee.

author by Fred Johnstonpublication date Tue Oct 20, 2009 13:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I don't think it serves any purpose to compare Stephen Gately with Luke Kelly. There is no comparison possible, as anyone who heard the great Luke in his hey-day will recall. It is normal enough for all manner of comparisons and eulogies to emerge at times like these. But I am conscious that two young Irish airmen died in the same week and that Joseph O'Connor, in a poem in The Sunday Independent, compared Stephen Gately to young soldiers on the Somme or at Ypres, which I found objectionable. One can only feel sympathy with this young man's relatives and family. But the Somme and Ypres were not any form of entertainment: as many Dubliners who lost relatives there, no matter how long ago, will acknowledge.

author by Michael Gallagherpublication date Tue Oct 20, 2009 14:58author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Hello Fred,
I should have clarfied (for the uninformed) when my mentioning Stephen Gately and Luke Kelly in the same sentence, that they both were born and reared in the Sheriff Street area. I didn't mention their particular talent or otherwise.
Although in a different style to Luke, Stephen Gately could sing, Luke couldn't dance, as he said himself about his part in Jesus Christ Superstar.

Anyone from a working class background who has struggled to survive and make something good and worthwhile of their lives, whether that be in work or otherwise are -in my opinion- heroes of some sort.

Talent is relative and so are opinions.

author by Tazzy77publication date Tue Oct 20, 2009 21:23author address author phone Report this post to the editors

While readers and critics alike were right to use this forum as a response to the unequivocal ‘gay-bash’, the cynic in me feels that it probably only served to highlight this article and thus drive traffic to the daily mail website. Moir herself seems to understand this, adding fuel to the fire with her statement “ I think it is mischievous in the extreme to suggest that my article has homophobic and bigoted undertones” The fact that her statement was un- remorseful and claimed that assertions such as “The circumstances surrounding his death are more than a little sleazy” and “Another real sadness about Gately’s death is that it strikes another blow to the happy- ever- after myth of civil partnerships” are not homophobic will only succeed in fuelling the outcry further and driving even further traffic to the website.

Further, it is interesting that the complaints only caused advertisers to pull their ads from that given page. Meaning that they did not want to hurt the papers’ revenue but also, did not want to be associated with the negativity surrounding the article. I would have thought any one would have been jumping at the chance to advertise on the page spurring so much traffic.

Related Link: http://ledamythsatara.blogspot.com/
author by Diarmuid Breatnach - personal capacitypublication date Wed Oct 21, 2009 01:09author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I am delighted that this piece of homophobic journalism generated such a storm of protest. However, getting the press to control outbursts of a homophobic, racist or just inaccurate nature is far from easy. Moving advertising sideways (like supermarkets targeted by Palestinian solidarity activists temporarily removing Israeli produce from the shelves) is one tactic of avoidance.

Regarding Irish editions of British tabloids taking a different stand to their parent, I recall once when the British parent newspaper suggested that the Birmingham Six had got off on a technicality, while their offspring in Ireland argued the exact opposite.

Some may remember that the outrageous front page accusation of the Sun that Liverpool FC supporters had robbed the dead at the Hillsborough disaster led to a massive boycott of that rag in Liverpool but didn't change the newspaper's policies (though perhaps induced some future caution).

Others may recall that the Greater London Council (later abolished by the Thatcher government) withdrew advertising from the Evening Standard and the Sunday Express after disgusting cartoon depictions of the Irish. The papers lost a lot of advertising revenue but did not change their policies.
I and many others were involved for years in struggling against the racist depiction of the Irish in British media. The Press Complaints Authority were of no use whatsoever (although they did once take some newspaper to task on them quoting all the dead in the war as killed by the IRA -- the complaint came from Information on Ireland, who were able to quote statistics on numbers of dead attributed variously to the IRA, to the RIC, British Army and Loyalists).

For some reason TV and radio appear more vulnerable or responsive to complaints. Perhaps all that an outburst of rage at injustice can realistically achieve in our society is to make the target a little more careful in similar circumstances in the future.

If I remember history correctly, it was an attack on the miners' strike in 1926 in an editorial in the Daily Mail that led to the first action in the General Strike as the printers refused to print the story and were locked out.

author by prolefedpublication date Wed Oct 21, 2009 10:10author address author phone Report this post to the editors

That last post made some good contemporary and historical points about the role of the Daily Mail in fuelling anti-Irish and other feelings among the reading public. The editorial differences among tabloids between their British and Oirish editions is a telling indictment of the cynical commercial hypocrisy that reigns among editors, subeditors and hacks employed by these papers. Let me add that similar, sometimes more subtle, hypocrisy is practised among staff employed by the posh Oirish versions of 'serious' British Sunday newspapers. The same duplicity is there, the same concealed sneering attitudes towards the designated section of the Irish reading public.

The Oirish versions of tabloids have had a down-dumbing impact on the writing style, content and editorial attitudes of homegrown downmarket Irish newspapers. This has been leading Irish society towards cultural debilitation and self loathing, and is something we should be deeply concerned about.

Yes, we can use blogsites to spread the word about devious journalistic practices. We need to consider practical forms of effective action too. Complaints, complaints and more complaints are one thing, and can have a temporary curtailing effect, but the onward descent to the bottom common denominator of banality is slow, steady and relentless. I think boycotts need to be considered. I think quiet campaigns of information aimed at encouraging individuals and families to sign pledges never again to buy targeted publications can be planned and mounted by concerned enlightened citizens. OK, cynical publishers sometimes say that if people don't like what appears in print they needn't buy the Daily or Sunday. Such dismissive comments can be taken at their face value and multiplied into effective numbers, and that needs community based planning. Don't just complain about prolefeed: do something real and lawful about it.

author by Fred Johnstonpublication date Wed Oct 21, 2009 23:16author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Sadly, 'dumbing down' in Irish newspapers has been a direct result of the assault on the Irish print media market from UK-based newspapers; even The Irish Times has fallen victim to this trend and The Sunday Independent is probably our most notable example.

author by readerpublication date Thu Oct 22, 2009 02:10author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Ireland is a copycat society in many areas of life and culture. Leaders of society look over their shoulders to make sure their attitudes and policies are not out of line with mainline trends in the USA and Great Britain. Radio, television and the print media become derivative and gradually adopt American trends. We are closer to Boston than to Ballyvourney.

author by tampon - ( iosaf )publication date Fri Oct 23, 2009 10:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The woman whose column has now attracted a record number of complaints made through the proper channels to the UK Press Complaints Commission has returned to her column to offer an "apology".

It deserves nothing but contempt for the simple reason that it begins "The truth about my view on the tragic death" and then makes happy mention of the "silent majority" who wrote a few hundred letters to her to express support for her vitriol. To rub salt into the wound, the Daily Mail columnist makes mention of "role models".

I finish this comment by asking rhetorically - do any of us think this kind of journalist is a role model for the young who are considering a career in print?

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1222246/The-t....html

author by iosaf mac dpublication date Thu Dec 17, 2009 18:45author address author phone Report this post to the editors

If we cast our minds back, thousands of us made complaints to the PCC about Jan Muir's article & the PCC people even set up a complaint procedure to accomodate the record number of complainst. But as I was to find out in the weeks following when complaining about another matter (the publication by the Guardian of pictures of protester and activist photographs as taken on a British police intelligence spotter card with an invitation by the Guardian to identify them) the PCC only formalises its complaints if you (the complainee) are directly involved. I had asked the chaps over there in the PCC office as they sent me and the editor of the Guardian notifications of the various stages of complaint why they had entertained thousands of complaints from people about Jan Muir's article unless they were presuming those thousands of people were ex-boyband members, happily living in civil partnership in the mediterranean & unhappily suffering from a hereditary condition which heightens the risk of a pulmonary oedema.

Well, it turns out that the thousands of people who got uppity including many readers - didn't after all have their complaint taken seriously.

Thus Andrew Cowles decision to continue with his complaint (as a person directly involved in the matter) merits not only reporting on this thread but consideration for all those who might in future want to know how to complain about the UK press


http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/dec/17/stephen-gat...-moir

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