Monday, November 12, 2007

Daily Mail or the misery of journalism

It is well known that if you want high-quality journalism, the Daily Mail isn't exactly what you should read. Now I can confirm this under oath, if necessary.
Nearly a month ago, I found in the Web the Daily Mail article BBC may be prosecuted for offering £40,000 to 'child-smugglers'. It begins as follows:
"The BBC was dragged into a fresh row over standards after police claimed it broadcast a misleading investigation into child-trafficking. The report, which led BBC1's Ten O'Clock News on Thursday, purported to expose Bulgarian criminals offering toddlers for sale to British couples for £40,000 each. But Commissioner Veselin Petrov, head of police in the Bulgarian city where the undercover report was filmed, has insisted that there is no evidence of organised criminals selling children. Petrov accused the BBC of entrapping 'Harry', the alleged trafficker, by offering him money, and threatened to charge the reporters with incitement, an offence that carries a prison sentence of up to a year. "
The Daily Mail Web site gives readers the opportunity to post comments. I submitted the following:
"Don't buy what Bulgarian police and government tell you! They have a mile long record of lies. They protect and cover up baby trafficking rings and other organized crime. When journalists expose the ugly Bulgarian reality, our authorities, instead of addressing the problem, rebut the allegations with lies, then try to prosecute the journalists. All honest Bulgarians congratulate the BBC for real investigative journalism."
However, my comment was never shown. Indeed, as you submit a comment, there is a disclaimer that "comments may be edited and not all will be published". However, I think my contribution was worth being published. There are only 16 published comments to this article, so there is room for one more. And none of the other commenters (most of whom are bashing the BBC) is from Bulgaria, which automatically makes my opinion special.
My guess is that the BBC has criticized the Daily Mail (I bet there have been plenty of occasions) and now the tabloid uses every opportunity to take revenge.
For the record, the findings of the BBC team were 100% confirmed by Bulgarian journalists. One of them, Martin Karbovski, even reported that when public attention is focused on a baby trafficking ring, the orphanages in the region receive an unusually high number of abandoned babies. This is because the traffickers keep a low profile and don't trade babies while the turmoil lasts, so the newborns produced specifically for sale and not wanted by their parents have nowhere to go but the institutions.

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