Thursday, 26 January 2012

The Daily Mail and the "Strict Muslim" - Part 1

Quite a nasty article in the Daily Mail today entitled "'Strict Muslim' raped four women at knifepoint to 'punish them for being on the streets at night' about one "Sunny Islam" who has been jailed for a series of vicious rapes in London.

There is no evidence whatsoever that he is a "Strict" Muslim (although his family are reported as being so).

Section 12ii) of the Press Complaint Commission Code states "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.

On that basis, BFTF has complained to the PCC with the following :

"The man concerned did not act out of Islamic teachings.There is no evidence he was a "Strict Muslim". Using the phrase "Strict Muslim" implies that his acts were committed out of Islamic conviction and that it was the behaviour of a devout follower of the faith.This kind of demonising reporting has an adverse effect on community cohesion."

(You can read about the response to that complaint in Part 2)

BFTF has also sent emails to the companies advertising around the article, a typical one goes something like this :

"I'm hoping you can help me out with a concern regarding (company) advertising that I have. Yesterday I saw an article in the Daily Mail today entitled "'Strict Muslim' raped four women at knifepoint to 'punish them for being on the streets at night'". The article concerned a man named Sunny Islam who has been jailed for a series of vicious rapes in London.

The fact that he has been jailed is good news. The fact that the Daily Mail chose to imply (against all the evidence) that he was a "strict Muslim" and that this was the reason he carried out these crimes is not good news at all. Indeed, it breaks the Press Complaints Commission Code of Practice. This is of concern to you because it was an advert for (company) that I saw next to the story. Essentially, you are paying for the Daily Mail to publish this kind of material. And this kind of article has a deep and adverse adverse effect on community cohesion.

I feel sure that (company) does not want to be associated with articles that break the PCC code.

If (company) does indeed feel this way, it would be great if you could let the Daily Mail know about it, I would certainly regard this as a great response from (company). I appreciate that the details of any communications between you and the Daily Mail are confidential, but I would really appreciate it if you were to let me know that you had contacted the Daily Mail.

Responses were as follows :

UPDATE 27-JAN : Got a call saying that Tesco have no control over where the Daily Mail puts its adverts. BFTF told them if they could please put their response to me in writing.

UPDATE 13-FEB : Been bouncing emails back and forth a few times. Tesco have emailed that the issue ". . . has been passed to our Marketing Team so that they can raise this with the paper."

Marks and Spencer
UPDATE 13-FEB : Having emailed M&S saying that ". . .I understand that you do not have control over where the ads are placed. . ." BFTF was disapointed to receive a reply saying ". . . I am afraid we have no control over where stories are printed in relation to adverts with in the paper. . ."

UPDATE 20-FEB : Sent M&S another email informing M&S that they had not answered my question and pointing out, again that ". . .I feel sure that M&S also doesn't want its advertising pounds being used to pay for articles that break the PCC code and damage community cohesion . . ." and that "Perhaps M&S could contact the Daily Mail to tell them how you feel about this issue."

UPDATE 21-FEB : Received a response from M&S stating that BFTF's comments would be ". . . passed to our press team. They will address any issues they have with the location of adverts printed in the daily mail. . . " and that they ". . . now consider this matter closed. . . "

UPDATE 13-FEB : No response yet.

UPDATE 15-FEB : Received an email from Experian saying, rather curtly, that they "will not be making any comment on the contents of either of your emails."

Laura Ashley
UPDATE 13-FEB : No response yet.

UPDATE 18-MAR : Having received no response, filled in another online feedback form, adding that whilst it was understood that Laura Ashley couldn't control advert placement, they COULD tell the Daily Mail that they were unhappy with their adverts being placed against inflammatory articles.

UPDATE 30-MAR : After a little email tennis, received a response saying that that "the advertisements that appear next to the article are not fixed but are dependant upon the viewers browsing history. . . Unfortunately neither we nor the Daily Mail have control over which advertisements are displayed"
BFTF responded with "I understand that, under the current system, neither you nor the Daily Mail have control over where adverts appear. But I don't quite understand how that stops Laura Ashley from telling the Daily Mail that you are unhappy with the your adverts being placed against this kind of article. . . it would give me great reassurance if you could let me know what general messge you have given the Daily Mail regarding future placement of Laura Ashly adverts.

UPDATE 02-APR : Received a further response saying that ". . .Please be assured that any necessary action with the publication concerned will be taken as a matter of priority."

UPDATE 13-FEB : No response yet.

UPDATE 18-MAR : Having received no response, sent another email chasing this up.

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