How journalism works

I recently cancelled my long-standing subscription to The Times and Sunday Times because I was getting fed up with its selective reporting.

As any writer knows, you can change a story by choosing what to include and what not to include – so if you leave out important details you can create a misleading impression.

I can’t comment on subjects I don’t know about, but when the Times/ST reports on trans-related subjects it does that all the time.

As I’ve written before, parts of the UK media automatically side with people who bully children, and trans children in particular. And in recent months The Times and Sunday Times have been particularly bad.

Here’s an example from yesterday: Police Called In Over Gender Row.

Police were called when a tutor refused to address a transgender pupil by the correct pronoun, it emerged yesterday. Officers became involved because the behaviour counted as a hate crime, it was alleged.

The article quotes Susie Green of the charity Mermaids:

“Recently we had to get the police involved because a young student was being regularly misgendered by his tutor. The tutor dismissed it until he was informed that it counted as a hate crime. The matter has now been resolved by the police.”

And that’s pretty much it. I’m quite sure many people would read that and think “Police? For God’s sake, what an overreaction.”

Here’s the same story, this time in the Telegraph, with the same source (a story about supporting trans kids in schools in the Times Educational Supplement [paywall]):

Susie Green, CEO of Mermaids, a charity which supports transgender children and their families, told how the teacher had laughed in the child’s face and said “if you don’t want to be called a girl then don’t look like one”.

She said that the teacher and school’s management ignored three months of pleas from the transgender child and their parents and dismissed their requests, until she was informed by police that her actions constituted a hate crime.

She said that the child was so distressed by the teacher’s actions that their mental health suffered, and they took two weeks off school with anxiety and depression.

The pupil’s parents contacted Mermaids, and with their help, escalated the matter to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission and the police.

Ms Green said: “We spoke to a member of the police force, who contacted the CPS and clarified the position. The CPS said it was a hate crime.” [Emphasis mine]

Reading that, it’s a completely different story: here we have a teacher who deliberately flouts the Equality Act 2010, who deliberately bullies a child for three months and who only stopped when they were informed that they could be prosecuted.

In this version I’d suggest that the reaction is likely to be “Police? Quite right. What an arsehole.”

The majority of people aren’t trans and don’t have trans kids, of course, so whether The Times has some kind of anti-trans agenda may not seem relevant to them. But if the paper is willing to mislead its readers about something as easily checked as this, what else is it misleading you about?



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