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Vox Populi: Lessons And Points To Remember

The voice of the people is something that will become increasingly heard more and more.  The responses to the Trafigura/Carter-Ruck attempted gagging of reporting Parliament and now the huge backlash in response to a bile filled, vitriolic article by Jan Moir about the untimely death of Stephen Gately have amply demonstrated this.

The first was a complete miscalculation by a company whose dumping deeds in Africa were about to be exposed and who thought they could use the law to gag something that had already been declared ungaggable.  People at Trafigura may well have been thinking “Oh hell, this could be very embarrassing, we need to protect ourselves and quick. Let’s get some “reputation management” done” when they picked up the phone.

Now as anyone involved in the Phorm backlash will tell you, “reputation management” usually means a legal company making bullying threats to try and mask the truth.  Phorm have their own “reputation management” to whom they must surely pay lots of Schillings.  In the Phorm case it really hasn’t worked.  Despite using several PR companies and a “reputation management” company, Phorm’s share price has dropped like Jamie’s batting average and they have slunk off to the corner (well, Korea actually).  The latest hit to the Phorm bandwagon comes in the form of the APComms report, of which I will write later (It’s been a busy couple of weeks here so it might take a few days).

Carter-Ruck gave their advice and once The Guardian reported that it was under restrictions Twitter’s users and the blogosphere took over.  The rest of the story is here.

On to the Daily Mail, a newspaper which seems to run on spreading fear about asylum seekers and immigrants and continuing to push various conspiracy theories about the death of Princess Diana.  Jan Moir, one of its columnists, wrote a truly distasteful article about the passing of Stephen Gately, a member of Boyzone.

It didn’t take long for those on Twitter and Facebook to start responding.  E-mail campaigns to those whose adverts appeared by the Moir article took offMarks & Spencer acted with good sense and demanded their advert there be withdrawn.  The Press Complaints Commission’s website crashed under the strain of complaints from those offended by Moir’s article.  Charlie Brooker wrote a withering response to Moir’s article.  I recommend you read it.

The Daily Mail has since attempted to hide some of Moir’s vitriol by altering the original headline and URL of the page.  As Malcolm Coles points out:

The original headline and URL were:

  • Why there was nothing natural about Stephen Gately’s death
  • /femail/article-1220756/Why-natural-Stephen-Gatelys-death.html

So there are definite grounds for a scathing response in the manner of Charlie Brooker’s article.  Lambast Jan Moir for being homophobic and bigoted by all means but some of the critical responses were as bigoted as Moir’s article itself.

Calling her a “despicable old witch”, a “wicked witch” or any pejorative about witches is as prejudiced, bigoted and ignorant as claiming Gately’s death (of natural causes) was due to the fact he was gay.

I know a few who happily admit they are witches.  Kind folk, they are among the most supportive and caring of my friends.  It doesn’t take Stephen Hawking like knowledge and research skills to find out that contrary to popular and misguided belief, broomsticks are used for cleansing rituals rather than flight.  Media portrayal of the witch since about 1600 hasn’t been kind, so ignorance about the witch has been around for a while.  Doesn’t make it any the less prejudiced or bigoted though.

Lambast Jan Moir for being bigoted and homophobic by all means (after all it is well deserved in my opinion), but using phrases which are themselves bigoted and prejudiced severely weakens whatever argument you put across.

Regular readers of this blog will be aware of my catch-phrases.  Learning from what has been written here over this and the previous 297 posts isn’t rocket science (It’s been too long since I dropped that one in *smile*) and there seem to be clear patterns emerging:

  • People will increasingly use social media and the internet to highlight issues of importance to them
  • Companies will increasingly look to the law to cover their backsides and try to prevent dissemination of such information
  • Bad news travels fast.  Very fast.  Just ask Phorm, Carter-Ruck, Trafigura, the Daily Mail and Jan Moir
  • Bad publicity isn’t good publicity any more. The internet allows dissemination of information far quicker than newspapers.  Once word gets out, it spreads like wildfire and it gets indexed and screencapped by somebody
  • Despite this, some organisation still do not properly understand the internet and social media
  • People may wish to refrain from bigotry in their criticism even if severe criticism is warranted

Whether this will herald an age where companies and corporations behave ethically it is far too early to say.  In an age where misconduct, attempts to hide such and attempts to justify such are highlighted, challenged and dissected one would like to think so.

In the meantime it’s always nice to see the truth emerge and those responsible for bigotry and attempts to gag what had been ruled as ungaggable (thanks to Lord Denning for that) brought to light and severly chastised for so doing.

The voice of the people has been heard like never before.  I’m sure there will be more like Trafigura, Carter-Ruck, The Daily Mail and Jan Moir brought to book.

Published inbad managementbigotrybusinesscampaigningethicsjournalismlack of CluemediaTwitter

One Comment

  1. Yay, good job!
    I’ve been so MAD about the Jan Moir piece all day. I posted my response on my blog at but I couldn’t resist using a swear word.

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