Two Old Codgers

How the World strikes us

Every single day the twelve UK newspapers scream headlines at us. Some are one day wonders, others are harbingers of stories that will go on for days, weeks, months or even years. (Brexit as one example).
Some of these long running stories are fed by what I call the media frenzy. Mostly ‘Bad’ news, after all there is nothing exciting for a journalist in ‘Good’ news.

I have picked out a couple of such stories but I am sure you will have others lodged in the dusty files of your memory banks. They seemed so important at the time but the media drops them like a hot brick when something else turns up. Do you reckon we will have difficulty remembering the Brexit storm in a few years time?

Take a look and see if they mean anything to you

Just before midday on 5 January 1993 the Braer oil tanker ran aground off the Shetland Isles in hurricane-force winds, spilling almost 85,000 tonnes of crude oil. It hit rocks in Quendale Bay, just west of Sumburgh Head, on the south tip of Shetland. According to WWF Scotland, at least 1,500 birds died and up to a quarter of the local grey seal population was affected. But the weather limited the full extent of the damage as much of the oil was swept out to sea.

The crude oil that the Braer was carrying was also lighter and more easily biodegradable than other North Sea crudes. Jonathan Wills, a Shetland journalist who researched the disaster, said everyone was "horrified" because The Braer was carrying twice as much crude oil as the Exxon Valdez, which had run aground off Alaska four years earlier. The Alaskan oil spill had caused a devastating environmental disaster. Mr Wills says: "We were expecting the worst but it did not really happen. The wind blew the oil away.” However, there was the usual media frenzy. For days, if not weeks, we were given the impression that the Shetland Islands were covered in oil and virtually finished.

I can only paraphrase from memory but perhaps six or twelve months after the event I saw a TV interview with a spokesman from the island. “Most of the Island was not affected, but tourism was seriously hurt as people believed what the read and heard. Just one bay bore the brunt and even that fairly quickly cleaned up. We did not really suffer from an oil spill but we certainly suffered from the effects of the media”

In 2007, News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire were convicted of illegal interception of phone messages. According to the News of the World, this was an isolated incident, but The Guardian claimed that evidence existed that this practice extended beyond Goodman and Mulcaire. In 2011, after a civil settlement with Sienna Miller, the Metropolitan Police Service set up a new investigation. In July 2011, it was revealed that News of the World reporters had hacked the voicemail of murder victim Milly Dowler. Prime Minister David Cameron announced that a public inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005 would be chaired by Lord Justice Leveson on 13 July 2011. For something like four years were bombarded with TV, radio and newspaper reports about this scandal.
News of the World

The News of the World was a national red top newspaper first published in 1843 as a result of the inquiry it ceased publishing in 2011. The total cost of the Leveson Inquiry was £5.4 million.

Prime Minister David Cameron, under whose direction the inquiry had been established, said that he welcomed many of the findings, but declined to enact the requisite legislation. Part 2 of the inquiry was to be delayed until after criminal prosecutions regarding events at the News of the World but the Conservative Party's 2017 manifesto stated that the second part of the inquiry would be dropped entirely, and this was confirmed by Culture Secretary Matt Hancock in a statement to the House of Commons on 1 March 2018. The total cost of the Leveson Inquiry was £5.4 million.

Others that quickly spring to mind Alfie Evans, Madeleine McCann, MPs Expenses. What would you add to the list, nothing prior to the Relief of Mafeking?

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