Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Rock music kills child, claims Daily Mail

The death of Isobel Jones-Reilly is a terrible thing, a terribly sad story.

But no story is so heartbreaking that it's not going to get the Mail moralising and blaming everything in the modern world:

Ecstasy death girl, 15, 'idolised drug-taking musicians and was hooked on the internet'
Right from the first three crappy depersonalising words of the headline on Arthur Martin and Tamara Cohen's shabby piece sets the tone for a careless, thoughtless long honk as the Mail drags the body of a dead teenager up and down the streets.

Let's start with that claim she was "hooked on the internet". You might think that if Isobel really was hooked on the internet, she'd be getting lambasted in a different part of the Mail for sitting in her bedroom looking at a screen. Her very real death was in the very real world, surely?

But how does the Mail know about this being addicted to the web, except for when she had switched the computer off and gone out with friends?
But one of her teachers blamed her downward spiral on an addiction to the internet.
Jaye Williamson, who was Isobel’s English teacher at Chiswick Community College, in West London, said: ‘She was into the kind of things that teenagers get into, but she got hooked on the worldwide web. She was part of the Myspace generation. She got caught and we are devastated.’
"Part of the MySpace generation" pretty much tells you to what extent Williamson is an expert witness on these matters. To be fair to Williamson, her quote sounds like something somebody who is still upset and confused by the death of a young person they knew might mumble out if being badgered for a quote from a shitty journalist.

Certainly, the Mail offers no other evidence for this "addiction" to the internet, and doesn't seem to consider for a moment that 'doing stuff on the internet' is what people do now. It reports memorial events organised online and scrapes Facebook photos and YouTube videos from tribute sites without seeming to realise that this is the sort of "being sucked in" to the internet that is meant to be the bogeyman in the story.

So what of Martin and Cohen's second bold claim, that Isobel "idolised drug-taking musicians"?

Did she edit a fanzine called something like 'Works and Plectrums'? No.
Had she shot a YouTube video in which she cheered while waving round pictures of Pete Doherty? No.
Have Martin and Cohen got details of a tattoo she had reading "Bands who take drugs are cool"? No.

Their claim seems to be based on one single quote:
‘Like many teenagers she idolised musicians who took drugs and it was hard to tell them the pitfalls of copying such behaviour.

‘These bands seem to have it all and the kids just want to copy them. It’s just desperately sad that it’s ended in the death of such a beautiful and lovely girl.'
And who gave this line to the Mail?
Diane Bardon, 50, whose son David was at school with Isobel
So the parent of another child at her school farts out a suggestion that maybe she was "idolising" drug-taking musicians "like many teenagers" - a vague and empty claim that, you'll note, can't even stand itself up by suggesting a name or two of whose these musicians might actually be - and suddenly it's up in the headlines.

There's a dead child, a mourning family, and all the Mail is interested in doing is kicking the corpse to see if it can somehow blame the internet and rock music. What a triumph for journalism.


Lucas Kain said...

Yeah, let's blame it all on the internet and rock music. As if the musicians of other styles don't use narcotics. And what does the internet have to do with this? I mean, of course, there are different factors which affect children, but if the parents take a nice approach, stuff like this can be fully avoided. Telling your kids some people are banned and then shouting at them is not the way. This way, they want it more. Anyway, enough ranting. Cheers!

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