Saturday, September 30, 2017

British Press Anti-Tourism Falsehoods

It was the Daily Bulletin what did it. Or rather it was readers of the Bulletin website what (who) did it. The Sun, bless it, came up with a report which was headlined thus: "Adios! End of an era as Brits ABANDON Majorca after hundreds of ‘arrogant locals’ demand holidaymakers go home." (Note, by the way, the shouty capitals for abandon.)

This was The Sun picking up on last Saturday's massification demo and spinning it into one of its regular let's-have-a-pop-at-Mallorca stories. There were photos of the demo, which would have been very easily obtained from Twitter, and then there was the report itself about those Brits abandoning Mallorca. As I read it, I began to think hadn't I read much of this somewhere else. I had. The comments in the report, upon which it was mainly based, were lifted straight from reader comments on the website. They had come from three people who had left their remarks. Three people. One of whom had referred to arrogance.

It was cheap stuff on behalf of The Sun (and there was no acknowledgement as to the source; indeed The Bulletin had no idea the comments were being used). That paper, though, is in something of a war with others in the knocking-Mallorca circulation game. We have, for example, The Express with its absurd "anti-tourist riots" that it has been highlighting in recent weeks, when there have been no such thing. Indeed, The Express had virtually the same headline as The Sun regarding the demo and it also used those same limited reader comments in the Bulletin, except it threw in "hate" towards Brits, which was its own pure invention.

This "hate", though, is revealing. It takes us to Brexit and to the stances of papers in the UK. For many Brits, Mallorca is their experience of Europe, and Europe is the hated target for the manic Brexiteers, such as The Sun and The Express.

The demo last Saturday, and this will have escaped both papers, did have legitimate messages. They were about the nature of tourism: of the way in which wealth is or isn't distributed; of employment; of impacts on the environment, on society and on resources. All of which was perfectly valid. There were 3,000 people, most of them young, voicing the type of idealism that the young do.

The problem with the demo, though, was that it just played into the hands of the likes of The Sun. Or maybe this is what its organisers had wanted. The Sun's report, far more so than that in The Express (and thereby probably lies its own tale), was reproduced all over the place and spread across social media, generating a total and utter distortion of the reality of so-called anti-tourism.

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