Saturday, 22 February 2014

How the Daily Mail misreported the Hobbycraft language ban story to suit it's agenda

You have to be very clever to be able to mislead people without telling lies.  Most of this Daily Mail story is true.

But it carefully tells a very different story to the truth.  Here is how they distorted the facts so the story could fit it's anti-EU, anti-worker view of the world:

Line 1. "Foreign workers employed by arts and craft chain Hobbycraft have been told to speak English or face the sack."

This wording implies that the workers are not speaking English.

So how is this misleading compared to the truth? What is the truth?

The truth is that all workers were given an instruction....that English must be spoken all the time during the working day except in rest areas.  This includes private conversations. Prior to this foreign language ban, English was spoken to a high standard by the workers, virtually all the time, and in any case, always when used for work related communication.

The first line is a deception that hooks readers in straight away. Critically, the wording used does not tell readers that the workers are speaking English to begin with. This is a crucial aspect of the truth - for anyone wanting proper context. The failure to report this fact is a clever way to manipulate readers into reaching the conclusions the DM wants them to.  In fact, nowhere in the article is it mentioned that these workers already speak English to a high standard!

Line 2. "Staff at the supplier's distribution warehouse in Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire, were hauled in for a meeting this week after difficulties arose with different nationalities conversing only in their native tongue."

This is the only line in the story that I believe is fabricated.  Yes, workers were "hauled in" (and threatened.) However,  I am convinced that it is pure fabrication to have written, "after difficulties arose with different nationalities conversing only in their native tongue.". 

Having spoken to workers at the site, nobody has said that there were any individuals who spoke only in their own language.  I believe the DM concocted this part of the story so that the employer is presented as having issued a reasonable request in response to a problem of the workers making.  I do not believe the DM could provide a source to substantiate this claim.

I could go on, but two lines of any Daily Mail report is quite enough for me!

This Daily Mail article generated over 1200 comments, and nearly 6000 shares.  From there it was picked up by other news agencies all over the world and numerous UK radio phone-in shows.  I have done three radio interviews this week as a result of it. A less sensational version also appeared in the Daily Mirror, which attracted 2 comments and 26 shares.   Quite a contrast!

The DM will be delighted that this little story triggered much national debate about "Should foreign workers have to learn English?". 

It's a clear strategy of the Right in the UK....twist any half-truth you can get that might encourage misinformed people to hate....hate benefit claimants, unions, foreigners and the EU. This clever but sinister strategy stops people from talking about the things that are real and actually matter, such as NHS sell off, mass unemployment, zero hour contacts or growing malnutrition in our children.

Had the story been truthfully been told, it might have gone like this,

"Workers who speak good English virtually all the time threatened that all private conversations will be regulated and must also be in English...or face a disciplinary investigation".   

But this truth - the actual truth, would not have cast foreign workers in a bad light.  The truth would not have made nice middle-class Hobbycraft look like it was doing the right thing. Instead, the employer might have looked like an overbearing bully. 

Thanks to the DM, these decent workers have been totally misrepresented to the world. Thousands of misinformed people have written unkind things about them, and have praised the employer.  

Meanwhile the whole episode has enabled Hobbycraft to make some new friends:
Top / All

It's not just the BNP. The British Patriot Society and a host of other far-right organisations have joined in.  

If the story continues to rumble on, the respectable Hobbycraft brand will eventually suffer.  If management are smart, they will think again and build some bridges with it's dismayed Burton workforce. The workers deserve absolutely none of this.

No comments:

Post a Comment