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.”