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01/16/2020

A British newspaper has been ridiculed online for its controversial front page. The Daily Mail published a picture of a young black man lying on a street looking at the sky, with an article about the “staggeringly high rates of crime” facing young black men.

A British newspaper has been ridiculed online for its controversial front page. The Daily Mail published a picture of a young black man lying on a street looking at the sky, with an article about the “staggeringly high rates of crime” facing young black men.
This is not the first time that the Mail has been criticized for this kind of reporting. Last year, Mail correspondent and columnist Jonathan Freedland wrote an essay titled “Why it never occurs to journalists to ask black people for their views” in which he complained that when black people spoke out on matters that were crucial to their lives, they were branded “unpatriotic” or even “un-British” as if that was a reason to not ask important questions about issues that are fundamental to black people’s lives.
The Mail’s latest cover story features a photograph of a man with his face partially obscured and the headline: “A British teenager was killed by a gang of five young criminals in a terrifying knife attack.” The man looks at the sky. He apparently took photographs during the attack but there is nothing to indicate exactly which street, road or house he was in. It is possible that he was in any number of places.
According to the story, the victim was stabbed and killed in a gang fight, a terrible crime for which the attackers were convicted. There is no mention of the victim’s race or age. According to BBC, the victim “was one of the youngest people in the UK to be convicted for murder since the legal limit of 16 was introduced five years ago.”
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There is nothing to indicate the exact locations of the assault or the date and time it occurred. But what is more important is the photo, which depicts a young man sleeping. In an editorial earlier this month, the New Statesman described this picture with this blunt sentence: “[O]ne of those two things is never going to go unnoticed by the people who write the stuff about crime that is published in the Mail.”
The fact that the Daily Mail uses two men sleeping in one image — one of a dead man and another of a sleeping man in another — speaks volumes about their priorities. In a world where young black men are much more likely to be the victims of violent crime, when they speak out on issues central to their lives (e.g., the need for job opportunities, education and housing), then the paper publishes an article about a young man whose portrait may have no bearing on this aspect of his life. The Mail treats the image of a man dead in a fight to serve as the equivalent of a white victim whose picture appears prominently to draw attention to the fact that he had been a victim of violent crime. And this is not a photo that the paper would run under any other circumstances.
The article also appears to have a double standard when it comes to women (though it does not take long to figure out in what way they are treated differently — see here and here for two examples). This is not the first time the Daily Mail has been criticized for focusing on the gender of the victim. The Sunday Times highlighted a 2014 article by the paper in which it quoted a man who had been hit with a brick and a knife. He said, “A drunk girl came up to me and tried to attack me,” but her victim status was not mentioned and only his gender was mentioned when there was no mention of his race.
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