Sunday, 7 February 2010

Racism rears its ugly head

In the world of PR, the key to getting your story out is to engage with journalists who'll embrace your 'angle'. So it's back to school for Angela Bucknor, Head of Marketing for Waltham Forest College, who mistakenly thought that the Mail on Sunday might be interested in a story about the educational establishment's diverse student body.

As a way of showcasing how much has changed in the last seventy years, tutor Gaverne Bennett decided to recreate a picture of the college's students that was originally taken in 1940. Whereas most of the students in the black and white photo were preparing to make their contribution to the war effort, today's intake are pursuing a wide range of vocational courses, from fashion and hairdressing to cookery and interior design.

Perhaps Bucknor naively assumed that the Mail would be happy to see evidence that not all young people are feckless, hoodie-wearing layabouts. But she didn't count on the seething undercurrent of racism that runs through the paper's journalistic output.

Matt Sandy's article prefers to focus on the fact that the students speak 76 languages and hail from a number of countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan and Croatia. There's also a pointed reference to the fact that one of the courses offered by the college is 'English as a Foreign Language' - making no mention of the fact that this shows a willingness on the part of the students to learn English, and thereby assimilate into British culture more effectively.

However, the most depressing element of this story is the views of the readers, as evidenced by the 'best rated comments' listed beneath the article:

And that's why the country has gone to the dogs....
- Daz, Hants, England
Change for the better? I don't think so.
- Jonty, Wales
The bottom picture makes me feel sad . Is it a misprint or a joke ( or a shamefull reality ) that it says it is now teaching "english as foreign language " ?
- david, plymouth uk
Like rubbing salt in an open wound.
- Robert, Derby
Have a look at the knife/gun crime figures within the U.K. for the 1940s' photo period and compare them to the 2010 photo period. What do you think is the major contribution to the massive increase in figures?
- Mike Jones, Hampshire
The picture says it all with what is wrong today
- Margaret, London

I imagine Nick Griffin almost choked to death on his crumpets when he read the paper this morning. Better luck next time...

1 comment:

  1. Oh it's so depressing! The Daily Mail's bad enough but the comments make me wanna top myself.