Saturday, 2 August 2008

Just when you thought it was safe........

..... to talk about the Hamptons.

Oh dear. I've had a flurry of emails this morning drawing my attention to a tabloid article besmirching our dear suburb of Worcester Park. The Daily Mail has decided that to compensate for being late to the Hamptons curfew they need to be more inflammatory than any preceding article by printing stuff like:

'It's like living in prison,' blasts another, furious that children living in the 'poor' end of the estate should be treated differently.

The affluent Hamptons homeowners are equally forthright in defending the terms of the curfew.

'What do they expect?' asks one such resident, 'an open invite to a cheese-and-wine party?

and continues by reporting on the social housing in a completely unselfish way by saying:

And far from indulging in tennis tournaments or amateur dramatics, their inhabitants have been blamed for a sequence of rather less respectable pastimes.

In a spate of petty vandalism, communal bins and a shed have been set alight and empty bottles of alcoholic drink have been found littered across the green expanses.

While it is impossible to say for certain who is responsible, TVHA, which manages The Hamptons' social housing properties, has responded by asking its tenants to sign an agreement ensuring that children are not allowed out after 9pm.

and then alleged quotes from other Hamptons residents about the rest of Worcester Park:

'You people who live outside The Hamptons should feel bloody lucky that you have these calibre of people living there (not being snobby), but it will benefit you in the long run with house prices, etc. etc.

'Here we are also trying our hardest to integrate with the local community by opening up our private tennis courts to 'outsiders' for your use as well as ours, but that opportunity has been ruined by people who misuse them.'

Others are more caustic: 'I understand that the social housing folk of The Hamptons are not happy with one allocated parking space each, so they are parking on other people's private property.

The first of those is a direct quote from The Worcester Park Blog post "Come Friendly Bombs" here, as is at least one of the other quotes in the article. Nice to know that the journos have done their research on the ground in Worcester Park then!!!

No matter what the rights and wrongs of the arguments are about the Hamptons it's certainly not being helped by the media sticking their noses in and printing a whole bunch of inflammatory anonymous quotes that may or may not be entirely fictional. The article closes with three actual quotes from named people or organisations but prior to that they're printing quotes from potentially anybody. If anyone reading this has been approached for a quote on the Hamptons I'd be interested to hear what you were asked, what was printed, what wasn't printed and whether what was printed accurately reflected what was said.
I know Worcester Park has written an article in August's Worcester Park Life about the Hamptons so we'll see if anybody from the mainstream press picks up on that...... I doubt the publicity is going to help St James get their appeal or revised plans for the Hamptons expansion through so in principle I don't mind some objective and factual reporting of the issues but I do object to the kind of journalism that, when it finds a fire, pours petrol on it and leaves the people to burn while they take photos of the damage.
You can read the whole Daily Mail article here.
Thanks to Liz, Andy, Jenny and another Andy for the morning emails!


Worcester Park said...

I was approached for the article - indeed I spent a good 20 minutes on the phone to Tom from the Daily Mail talking through the issues. I did point out to him that the comments flying around on the blog were quite probably tongue in cheek and quite definitely included a huge amount of goading from both sides, but nonetheless they have been lifted (without credit) from my blog and as a result Worcester Park has been painted as a thoroughly intolerant place.

The Daily Mail - don't you just love the outrage on every page!

Anonymous said...

I can't for the life of me understand why the comment about tanks and tunnels wasn't published too !!!... surely that would have sold them a few more issues.

Andy said...

Heh, the Daily Heil or Daily Hate Mail as it's known in our house.

Michael said...

What I would like to know is ...WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU ALL DOING READING THE DAILY MAIL!!!!????

The Brinkster said...

READ the Daily Mail!?!? Are you NUTS?? I don't mind linking to the articles on their website for free (thereby providing them with no money whatsoever) but I wouldn't BUY one. Harrumph.... the mere suggestion.

If you want to read a blog by someone who dislikes the Daily Mail professionaly, rather than as a hobby, then try Bad Science