Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Rag Week

I like reading newspapers. I enjoy The Times, and love it or hate it, The Sun is very good at what it does. But the Daily Mail, the Wail, is beyond me. Everything's going to turn out badly; threats to society abound, freaks will kill us, food is poisonous. For The Mail, nothing's better than scare stories, and ludicrous exaggerations about how awful it all is. Tragedy over triumph sells.

But just recently the Mail has surpassed itself, any remaining editorial honesty finally flatlined. In Britain, it's recently been campaigning against the HPV jab, the vaccine against infection associated with the development of cervical cancer, using its usual mix of sensationalism and horrific stories as 'facts' are 'revealed' over the alleged dangerous side-effects of the treatment. The Mail's strident voice insists no vaccination programme must ever, ever go ahead.

But at the same time, the Irish edition of The Mail has been crusading for the immediate introduction of the HPV jab countrywide, claiming that despite the Health Minister's recent shelving of a plan to do this, '... the Irish Daily Mail will not relent and will continue to urge the roll out of the vaccine.'

So we have the simultaneous printing of lurid scare stories in one country, and a pro bono publico campaign urging the nationwide launch of the treatment in another. The editorial stance is solely whatever will sell the most newspapers, the seriousness of the health issue simply set aside.

Add to this the foolishness of expressing such contrapuntal views in neighbouring countries, where thousands of people, all speaking - and reading - the same language, travel between the two every day. Did the Mail group believe no-one would pick this up?

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