Friday, 8 August 2008

Walworth Road shooting - atrocious reporting by Daily Mail

You may have noticed yesterday that in my first post about the shooting on the Walworth Road that I quoted several sources; BBC News, Sky News and the Daily Mail. I included a brief excerpt and link to the Daily Mail, without saying much, and indicated that they are not my preferred source. It appears that the first Daily Mail report has vanished... However, I did manage to find a Google cache of it here. The report that replaces it with the "innocent victim" remarks can be found here.

What's so interesting about the report's disappearance is the way that the initial report was entirely inaccurate. The first report rather implied that Ryan Bravo was a member of a gang and that he entered a rival gang's territory. I'll quote from it furthur down. You'll notice in my posts that I never speak of race/colour unless they're in some way pertinent to the story in question. eg. I might report on the "Black LGBT Pride march", but I wouldn't report, "Leeona Smith, a black woman from Vauxhall won an award". I don't see race as particularly useful data in relation to a killing/award ceremony etc. Although, I have to confess that I /do/ want to be told about instances of racial discrimination, so there's a careful line to be trod. However, there are rarely reports that state, "Lots of white traders have manipulated the market and caused huge losses".

But, despite it's political incorrectness so to do, I want to raise the question of whether the Mail would have posted its initial story if the victim had not been black. The initial report didn't mention that the victim was any particular colour (although they did mention the colour of the moped riders), but I just think that the inaccurate report reflects the Daily Mail middle-england bias of the kind of story they'd /like/ to report on from South London, irrespective of its veracity. If I were the parent/friend/partner of Ryan, I'd sue them for serious inaccuracy. Of course, I caught the online version very quickly, and don't know if it ever went to print...

So, let's look at some of the discrepancies:

Report 1:

"One man, who asked not to be named, said the youth had deliberately crossed into a rival gang's area as an act of bravado.

'If you cross over you are going to make sure everyone knows about it. It was a statement,' he said.

'He wanted to be a big man. That is why it happened. It is a gang zone around here. He is from the wrong side and came down here trying to act the big man." ...

'I have known him for years, ever since he was a kid. He did not go to school, he was in a gang.'"


Report 2:

"The teenager shot dead at a supermarket in London was the innocent victim of a dispute between two street gangs, it has emerged.

College student Ryan Bravo, 18, was caught in the line of fire as two or more gunmen tried to shoot the two youths after they strayed into the wrong territory."

In report 1, the police are quoted:

"Police sources said the victim was not a major gang figure. 'He is not known to Trident - he is not a major player. That does not mean he wasn't involved in more petty postcode rivalries.'"

It seems to me that saying somebody is "not a major gang figure" rather implies that they might be a minor figure! Luckily, that's all sorted out later...

Report 2:

A local resident said: 'He was a good boy. I didn't ever know him to get into any trouble.

'My son and him were always talking and laughing together. As my son would say, he was a gentleman – he didn't have any "street name" or anything like that.'

How is it in any way acceptable to publish a report that is later found to be almsot entirely inaccurate? Does this happen often?

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