The Obscurer

Month: November, 2008

Kinder Murder

The Obscurer can today exclusively reveal yet another appalling case of a child who has been cruelly killed at the hands of their parents. Of the parents themselves, found guilty of manslaughter in court yesterday, there is little that need detain us, so in covering this story our focus will shift immediately to search for someone else to be implicated in the blame for the tragedy. According to a family friend, once more it appears that concerns were repeatedly raised about the care the deceased child had been receiving, and that perhaps, if action had been taken earlier, the terrible events could have been avoided.

Speaking anonymously to The Obscurer, one of the child’s former babysitters told us: “It was an awful situation, an accident waiting to happen. I couldn’t just stand by and let things go on as they were, I had to do something, but when I tried to raise the alarm no one would listen to me. I was interviewed several times, once at length, but nothing happened. I was fobbed off. No one seemed to care…I used to have a lot of time for the media but not anymore. I must have gone to the newspapers, what, twenty, thirty times, but they weren’t interested and the stories got spiked. Those journalists have blood on their hands.”

We put this to the head of social services for the borough concerned who responded angrily: “Yet again the newspapers have failed our children. Unfortunately this matter was never referred to my department, and so we were unable to take any action to save this child’s life. How many more children are going to have to die unnecessarily before the press sorts out how to communicate efficiently and effectively and shares such vital information with the authorities? After a recent Law Lords’ inquiry the media promised it had put its house in order and vowed to assist local authorities in their work, but cases like this show that to be a lie. In my opinion heads should roll, immediately, starting with the editors and working downwards taking in all the hacks who were involved in this horror story. Otherwise this kind of thing will keep happening, again and again.”

Speaking on behalf of all newspapers, the Society of Editors refused to take questions but did put out a statement: “Everyone who was involved in covering this case has been shocked by these events, but it is important to put into perspective what has happened here. Journalists did not murder this innocent child, the parents did. That may be the easy, simple answer, but it also happens to be true. While it is understandable that people want to look for someone else to blame, it should be remembered that the people truly responsible are the ones who were found guilty in a court of law. Our internal investigation shows that all journalistic procedures were followed correctly, and despite some misleading statements now being made by various social workers there is in fact no compulsion in law for the media to inform the authorities of any welfare concerns. There is probably also something about the Data Protection Act, I think, and confidentiality. With hindsight it is easy to see that more could have been done, but the journalists who interviewed the whistleblower at the time did not have that luxury, they had to cover the story with the facts at hand, and there was simply no way they could have known how big this story would become. In addition, it is important to remember that at the time of the tragedy, resources were being concentrated on whipping up a storm over something and nothing a BBC presenter had said, and the whole profession was stretched.”

However, a self-styled Media Expert explained that in the current climate such situations are inevitable, and bound to reoccur: “The problem stems in part from cost savings that are being made at almost all media outlets, where experienced journalists have been made redundant and replaced with underpaid, overworked and poorly trained newcomers. Few of these people actually practice “reporting” in the traditional sense, and they are often employed to do little more than regurgitate press releases and think-tank reports in the house style. When faced with a real person telling a real story they barely have a clue what to do, and looking beyond the headlines and past the lazy assumptions of their target readership is actively discouraged. Preconceptions also play a part; in this case the mother was on benefits and the father an asylum seeker, groups that journalists have been inculcated to demonise daily, so there was little sympathy with the situation from the start. Add in that many journalists have been trained to view social workers as little more than nannying, town hall snoopers who take too many children into care and are an unnecessary drain on local authorities’ – and by extension, Middle England taxpayers’ – budgets, and it is easy to see why the case was not referred on. Sadly, once the journalists involved had made their judgement on the story they did not question it until it was too late.”


The Last Noël

We’re sunk. The liberal elite has won. According to Private Eye

It’s official – Christmas is cancelled at the Daily and Sunday Express. Chairman Richard “Dirty” Desmond, worried about a verbal or physical backlash from the swathes of journos he is throwing out into the snow as the global recession bites, has announced there will be no staff knees-up this year.

At previous Christmas parties Dirty Des has bored the balloons from the ceiling with speeches about circulation figures and ad revenue of each and every title in the Northern and Shell stable while his minions take rapturous advantage of the free booze on offer. But the thought of being drowned out by well-watered hacks bemoaning the loss of their jobs and pension rights has proved too big a worry or Des.

So that’s that then; Christmas had finally and conclusively been banned, and after I’ve already wasted good money – £9.99 – on a pink DS Lite carrying-case for my niece. Will Toys’R’Us issue a refund? Perhaps I’ll save it for her birthday, so long as that hasn’t been similarly proscribed.

But I suppose it was always going to end this way: that after fighting a valiant rearguard action battling the assorted forces of those politically correct councils, right-on quangos and other propagandists of multiculturalism, after making up uncovering countless examples of the authorities’ relentless “War On Xmas”, it would be the Express that remained the last man standing; but it would still ultimately be forced to cave in in the end, to abandon Christmas, and so hammer the final nail into the festival’s coffin.

At least it didn’t go down without a fight.

Indoor Fireworks

After spending the week on holiday in Cornwall we arrived home on Saturday to the sound of rockets, Catherine wheels and bangers, the work of both the local kids and of the fireworks display at the nearby Bethesda school. While ferrying our stuff from the car into the house I decided to switch on our aged PC, to give it time to warm up so it would be ready for use once we were all settled in the house. Unfortunately it decided to join in with the bonfire festivities; clearly unhappy at having been left idle for the past week, once I had plugged it in it emitted a pop, a crack and a vaguely cordite-like odour.

Hence the reason why I’m currently sat in Cheadle library tapping away on a borrowed PC, and this post is my way of saying that The Obscurer will be undergoing an enforced hiatus until my computer is either repaired or replaced, and who knows when. I may still issue the odd update on Twitter – although I won’t be publishing those here, you’ll be glad to know – and if you are pining for your irregular dose of my ramblings then please feel free to browse those archives; there’s badly punctuated nonsense on all manner of subjects over there. More likely is that you and I will take a well deserved break from each other, and quite right too. But fear not, I will return. Eventually.