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No Smoke Without Headlines

by J. C. Greenway
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This is a guest post for ten minutes hate by writer, Nick Bryan

The Jo Yeates case rumbles on; you may have heard that a neighbour of the victim has now been arrested and charged, and the borderline libel has begun. One thoughtfully phrased S*n headline described him as ‘THE QUIET DUTCHMAN’, which brought two points to my mind:

  1. Clearly the author of said copy is already working on a trashy novel about the Yeates case
  2. They must be pretty annoyed that this new suspect can’t fly

Anyway, this is nothing new, not even within this case. Some ‘creepy”’ teacher was questioned a couple of weeks ago, and the ‘PORTRAIT OF A KILLER’ articles were everywhere before he’d even reached the damn police station. The fact he wasn’t charged is probably the only reason he has any chance of a normal life now.

Of course, news outlets telling us what to think isn’t anything new. Some make more effort to conceal their biases than others, and even that layer of restraint melts away when faced with the arousing prospect of an election. Who could forget The S*n’s Election Day 2010 front page, which resembled a news headline in the same way a toilet resembles the Venus de Milo?

It’s somehow okay in politics, it seems, because we don’t want the poor newspapers to be left out whilst everyone else has an opinion, and no-one’s died or anything. And of course, there’s always cheating footballers, who are basically the bitches of the tabloid press. If that won’t persuade them to keep it in their pants, god knows what will. But what happens when they start applying this lens of simplistic finger-pointing to murders and suchlike? Well, this shit mostly.

There are meant to be contempt of court laws stopping massive character assassinations, as it could prejudice a jury. Imagine they head into the courtroom, only to realise the man sitting in the dock is on the front of their newspaper, under a massive headline saying ‘HE DID IT’. Not sure what’s happened to those laws. Maybe someone should go find them.

Lastly, I feel bad writing about news media beating current affairs into a narrative without linking to some of Charlie Brooker’s excellent work on the subject in NewsWipe. So here he is, in a poignant clip about school shootings. A cheery note to end on, yes?

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