Press review: Thursday 15 May 2014
Three weeks ago Stephen Sutton thought he was about to die and posted a farewell photograph of himself on Facebook. He had set up a page called Stephen's Story to chart his progress in working through a bucket list of things he wanted to do in whatever time he had to live. They included raise £10,000 for the Teenage Cancer Trust.
When his Just Giving fund passed £572,000 last month, he decided to raise the target to £1m. The combination of the ambitious target, the joyous bucket list and this thumbs-up picture made him a tabloid 'hero'.
For the Mail he was the "boy who inspired the nation" and it was quick to claim credit for the surge in donations, proclaiming:
"In the 72 hours since his story was featured in the Daily Mail, donations have poured in at an astonishing rate of more than £400,000 a day."
Stephen's story made its first appearance in the nationals a month ago, but it had attracted the Sun's attention six weeks before that:
Sadly, the article never appeared in his lifetime. The paper probably regarded it as a timeless piece and it was busy with its breast cancer tie-up with the Copafeel! charity. A weekly health section can't overdo the cancer coverage.
Today, however, the paper's splash is by Christina Earle, a journalist who usually writes for the health pages.
"Gutsy teenager Stephen Sutton lost his fight with cancer yesterday - after declaring in his last interview with the Sun: "You get only one shot at life. I need to make every second count."
The paper state four times on the front and inside spread that this is his last chat/final interview with the Sun. And those last three words are key.
The impression is that the paper had spoken to Stephen recently. Maybe it had, maybe Earle had been sent back to talk to him after the March interview. Or maybe this was a judicious reworking of a story that had been sitting in a notebook for two months.
What is pretty certain is that Stephen's final interview was not with the Sun.
On Monday the Mail ran an exclusive by Rebecca Hardy which carries much that had not appeared in print before. It is an excellent interview, written without flam or sentiment. Today, the paper carries a personal piece by Hardy about conducting that interview. Again, it is worth a read.
A couple of weeks ago, the Mail was claiming credit for Stephen's fundraising success. Today it is humbler and much the better for it.
As readers we have been enriched by Stephen's story, as have the coffers of the Teenage Cancer Trust. But did we in turn enrich his last days?
There is something about the way the Press have tackled this story that makes SubScribe feel uncomfortable - the petty deception of today's Sun splash, the barrage of offers to help him to complete the bucket list, the sense that the Press were claiming ownership, I can't quite put my finger on it.
Stephen Sutton was a star in his own world long before Fleet Street took up his cause. Today's "credit to the nation" headlines are well-meant but also patronising. Who are we to sit in judgment on this young man - however positive the verdict?
War reporting is a dangerous business and Syria is a particularly dangerous place. Since the uprising started three years ago more than 150,000 people have been killed and more than a million made homeless.
Estimates of the number of journalists killed vary from 63 to 150. About 30 have disappeared or are being held hostage. One American journalist has been detained since August 2012.
In the past few weeks two Spanish and four French journalists have been released after months in captivity.
Today the Times reports that its much-decorated partnership of Anthony Loyd and Jack Hill were hijacked, tied up, beaten and, in Loyd's case, shot. They managed to escape after a few hours and make their way across the border into Turkey.
The story makes the splash to the paper. It is certainly the most dramatic of the day and for we in the journalistic community, it is the most interesting and disturbing.
But given the scale of the slaughter and devastation in Syria, is the relatively brief - if terrifying - ordeal of two journalists a worthy lead to the world's most famous paper? Or is it a touch incestuous?
The Independent reports today that far from Romanians and Bulgarians overrunning the country after the lifting of restrictions on January 1, there were actually fewer of them in work here in the first three months of the year than there were in the previous quarter.
The paper focuses on Ukip 'scaremongering' and says the statistics prove the party was wrong.
There is no doubt that Ukip has been scaremongering, but it was far from alone in that. The doomsday statistics were produced by Migration Watch and reproduced with glee by the Express, Star, Telegraph, Mail and Sun. These were the arch-scaremongers. They seized on every report, every piece of speculation, every working paper to hammer home the threat to British jobseekers or the pressure on the welfare state.
Today Migration Watch is sticking by its estimate that 50,000 Romanians and Bulgarians could be expected to arrive here every year and Nigel Farage is interpreting the ONS figures on which the Independent story is based as proof that the coalition's immigration policy isn't working.
Some people will never be convinced that this country is not better off as an island populated entirely by white English-speaking people that is no longer part of Europe. They are wrong.
did the Press help
or take over
the end of his life?
An extended version
of the review
post on the left
Syria: the toll
The American journalist Austin Tice, above, went missing from his home in Damascus in August 2012. He is one of about 30 journalists who are being held captive or who have disappeared since the start of the uprising three years ago
What makes journalists carry on filing from the world's danger spots? Three veterans pay tribute to Marie Colvin, above, who was killed in Syria, and explain their motivation
'A Bulgarian travel agent asserts that all routes to Britain are fully-booked until next Thursday. The Mail
and the Telegraph have been telling us that all week, that budget airlines have put on extra planes and that tickets are 'changing hands for £3,000'.
Odd that. A quick Google reveals that I can fly direct from Bucharest or Sofia tomorrow to a choice of cities, including London and Manchester, for about £150. If I am more flexible on dates, EasyJet will bring me into Gatwick for £38'
Scare stories don't help
The Express believes Romanians and Bulgarians will cost us £1.4bn in benefits by 2021. How did it reach that figure?
Immigration and the Express
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