Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Daily Mail Opportunism

Well, the Daily Mail strike again. Reading like something I would have written at Daily Mail Death Articles, today the Mail decided to smear the names of the family and friends of a dead child, along with that child herself, with a healthy dose of OMG INTERNETZ and OOH LOOK AT THESE CELEBRITIES thrown in to boot. The whole slice of hideousness reads like a scene from Paul Dacre's most enthusiastic wank-fantasy. Titled Ecstacy death girl, 15, 'idolised drug taking musicians and was hooked on the internet' [istyosty link], this piece shows Arthur Martin and Tamara Cohen up for the subhuman smut-peddling scum that they are. It's red pen time here at Forty Shades of Grey Towers...

She was a promising schoolgirl from a stable family background. But Isobel Jones-Reilly had become sucked in by the drug-taking exploits of the celebrities she idolised. Lots of teenagers 'idolise' celebrities. Lots of celebrities take drugs. Ipso facto, it's celebrity's fault that this happened. Probably.

In the early hours of Saturday, the 15-year-old died after taking a cocktail of illegal drugs at a party at an academic’s house.

Isobel, described as a ‘member of the Myspace Generation’, used at least seven social networking sites and would spend hours posting comments about drugs and celebrities. She also posted pictures of herself with famous faces, including one of comedian Russell Brand, a self-confessed former drug addict. Social networking sites are ubiquitous nowadays. I myself have profiles on at least six social networking sites that I can immediately think of. That doesn't mean I'm an internet addict, it means that I'm a member of this generation. Young people talk about celebrities because, well, it's pretty much all they get shoved down their throat. Is it any wonder when all mainstream media, especially a certain rag (who's name might rhyme with Faily Heil) insist on stuffing them on a diet of prattle and gossip about 'stars' like it's actually important? Also, I really can't stand Russell Brand, but to link the fact that he used to take drugs (as I understand it, he has been clean for some time and now talks about how meditation is his get-out-of-consciousness method of choice) to the death of a 15 year old girl from drug-taking really is low. Could this be to do with the fact that he has a film out soon and this might get them Google hits? I'd put money on that.

But one of her teachers blamed her downward spiral on an addiction to the internet. Jaye Williamson, who was Isobel’s English teacher at Chiswick Community College, in West London, said: ‘She was into the kind of things that teenagers get into, but she got hooked on the worldwide web. She was part of the Myspace generation. She got caught and we are devastated.’ Firstly, what in the name of holy fuckery is this girl's English teacher doing giving soundbites to the gutter press? In what way is it any of her business? I would very much hope that she is disciplined over this. Being a teacher does not mean that you are placed to comment on any part of a student's private life. How does Williamson know what Isobel did with her spare time? But now we see where the Mail have got their conjecture that makes up their appalling headline.

Isobel, known as Issy, had been at a party on Good Friday at the home of Brian Dodgeon, an academic in children’s development. Paramedics tried to revive her, but she died in hospital.

Last night Mr Dodgeon’s daughter Beatrice Hadjipateras, 14, and two of Isobel’s classmates Jamal Clarke and Harry Barton, both 14, who also took drugs that night were still in hospital under observation. So we decided to hound him and smear his name in public.

The 60-year-old academic was arrested on suspicion of possessing drugs and child abandonment and later released on police bail. Yesterday, his partner Angela Hadjipateras, 54, was interviewed under caution by detectives. If these parents had these drugs in the house and the teenagers found them and randomly decided to take them, I will eat my hat. I've been a teenager.

Parents of Isobel’s friends told how the promising student failed to realise the dangers of taking Class A drugs.

Diane Bardon, 50, whose son David was at school with Isobel, said: ‘Like many teenagers she idolised musicians who took drugs and it was hard to tell them the pitfalls of copying such behaviour.

‘These bands seem to have it all and the kids just want to copy them. It’s just desperately sad that it’s ended in the death of such a beautiful and lovely girl.’ Mrs Williamson said her son was also at the party but left early because his parents asked him to be home by midnight. ‘He was picked up by a friend of mine. Otherwise, God knows what might have happened,’ she said.

'I would see Issy in the corridors and I used to pull her into the classroom to make sure she did well at school.’ Who the hell is this woman? I'm also willing to bet that the Mail phoned all the parents of people who were friends with Isobel until they found one that was daft and insensitive enough to give them a quote that accorded with their narrative. This is where they got the second assertion for their headline, by the way.

Isobel and about 15 of her friends were at the party in Ladbroke Grove. Mr Dodgeon and his partner had left for the night, leaving the children unsupervised. It is understood that some of the teenagers started taking a mixture of drugs – thought to include Ecstasy, amphetamines, LSD and ketamine – at about 2am.

Police are investigating whether the drugs were brought into the house or if they were found in the house at the time of the party.

Two hours later, Isobel suffered a cardiac arrest and collapsed. Neighbours were woken by screams – and within minutes, paramedics arrived and took Isobel and her three friends to St Mary’s hospital, in Paddington.

Jeremie Mbiola, 15, a classmate who was at the party, said watching his friend collapse had changed his life forever. ‘I can’t believe what I saw with my own eyes and I now keep getting flashbacks,’ he wrote on Facebook. Mail journalism at it's finest. Stalking the Facebook profiles of children connected to a tragedy to picture and quote-mine (In the article, there are five pictures of Isobel - all of them obtained from social networking sites).

Yesterday, more than 150 classmates and relatives attended an impromptu memorial on Chiswick Common, near Isobel’s home in Acton. As friends sang songs in tribute, parents questioned why there were drugs at the party. I'm guessing - and bear with me here - that there were drugs at the party because the kids decided that they wanted to take drugs and bought some. It's horrible, and it's stupid, but it happens.

One father said: ‘My boy was at the party but he shouldn’t have even been there. When I found out, I went to pick him up at 11.30pm. He didn’t take anything. They hadn’t gone looking for stuff by then. It was about 2am they found them and by 4am Issy was dead. I heard she died in her friend’s arms.’

Mr Dodgeon’s boss at the University of London’s Institute of Education, Professor Chris Husbands, said: ‘The Institute was deeply sorry to hear of the tragic events.

‘My senior team and I will be meeting...to make appropriate decisions on the way we will proceed.’

[SUB ARTICLE] Academic who left children to party alone

As a respected academic and former social worker, Brian Dodgeon is exactly the sort of parent you’d trust with children.

He and his partner, charity manager Angela Hadjipateras, are high-fliers who doubtless want the same for their daughter.

Their £1million terrace home in Notting Hill in West London is a testament to Mr Dodgeon’s success, after a modest upbringing in Blackpool with his parents and elder brother. There, he excelled at school and won a place to study maths at Bristol University, graduating with a first-class degree. Property porn. Colour me surprised.

His partner works for a charity supporting development projects in Africa, and the pair have been involved in running the charity Stepping Stones to tackle prejudice surrounding HIV.

A friend of Mr Dodgeon said he was a ‘liberal dad’ with an active social life, who held lively house parties.

‘I’ve been to quite a few of his parties but I’ve never seen any drugs there,’ said the friend. ‘You might see the odd guy staggering around but that would be from alcohol, like at any party. He’s a liberal guy, like most middle-class people from Notting Hill. He would have been the sort of person to let his daughter have parties, but I would be surprised if he had left them alone.’

‘Brian is very sociable, he works as a DJ sometimes in 1960s music. He’s a great dad and has never mentioned any problems with his daughter. I can’t imagine in a million years he would buy drugs. My first thought is it must have been the kids who brought them in. They are a lovely normal middle-class family.’

Neighbour Michael Sutton, who has known Mr Dodgeon and his partner since they moved to the area 15 years ago, saw the ambulances arrive in the early hours of Saturday. He said: ‘We got on well with them. I’ve seen them going out cycling’.

Mr Dodgeon may have first-hand experience of families blighted by substance abuse. After graduating, he took  qualifications in social work, and was a  social worker for Hammersmith and Fulham Council in 1975. He currently works at the Institute of Education, researching social problems including alcohol consumption. He also works part-time teaching Alexander Technique, a relaxation method.

Mr Dodgeon will answer police bail in June. Last night, he and his partner were at their daughter’s hospital bedside. What does this show us? Nothing. It's just an attempt to paint this 'liberal' man as ultimately connected with the death of a 15 year old, when all that really happened is that she was friends with his daughter and was at his house when she died. He wasn't there. His own daughter is in hospital. Leave the man alone. It is perfectly normal for a group of 15 year olds to be left in the house alone. He is not a monster.

[SIDEBAR] A rap fan caught in a downward spiral

 Described as ‘extremely popular’ by her teachers at Chiswick Community School, where they said she was doing well, photos and stories of the youngster paint a picture of a contented life with her family in Acton, West London.

But as she entered her teenage years, she became engrossed in an intense social whirl.

At one point, she wrote of her life: ‘It’s drugs, it’s sex, it’s family and every minute I make mistakes. I don’t mean to but I do and I’m sorry for those mistakes.’

The teenager described herself as a ‘down to earth girl’ who ‘people like to hate’ in another entry.

On one of her most prolific online profiles, Isobel, a huge fan of controversial rappers 50 Cent and Kanye West, posed as a 21-year-old.

More recent pictures show her with dyed red hair, smoking a cigarette and drinking from a can of Strongbow cider. Again, what does any of this have to do with anything? Does it tell us anything about her death? No. It's just typical Mail internet scaremongering, combined with a smidgen of  'rap-music-is-evil' on the side.

So what does this show us? Nothing. It's just another example of the tabloid press jumping on the bandwagon of a young girl's tragic death in order to flog a few more copies and get better Google hits. They have no shame about smearing the name of a respected academic in order to push their hateful 'modernity-will-kill-your-children' ideas forward, and again show their truly reprehensible nature by using out of context quotes to sully a dead girl and make it look like her death was her own fault.

A child died. Three children are in hospital. The media spin their narrative, and this is what we hear. This is the fault of the parents! It's the fault of celebrity! It's the fault of the internet! It's not. The children, as hard as it might be to hear, decided to obtain some drugs and take them. From the fact that one of them died and others were hospitalised, I will stick my neck out and say that they got some bad drugs, which were probably stronger than, or contained something different from, what they were expecting. They played russian roulette with their health and are now suffering the horrendous consequences of their actions. They and their families have to live with this. So why is the media queueing up to make them look even worse? This is a tragedy, not an opportunity to have a self-indulgent mass-froth at everything that the media feels is wrong with the world. Use this to educate children on the dangers of drugs, not to push forth a hateful invective and ruin lives further.


  1. Gah. This story is so transparently shit. Fit what quotes & details they can to the story they've already decided to write: Nice girl from a good family (not like those estate chavs where you expect it; she could be just like yours; fear it!). But then she was led astray by modern music, celebrities (some of whom take drugs) and THE INTERNET.

    Although, Nat, if you expect us to believe you're not addicted to the internet, you clearly take us for fools...

  2. I wonder how much of the Daily-Mail-worrying suff teenagers do is down to the Daily Mail and the like telling us that we all drink, take drugs, have sex e.t.c. though.

    Seriously, 'waa, music and celebrities and teh interwebs tell kids that taking drugs n' stuff is normal, so they all do it' seems to be all that they're saying here, so they make it seem like everyone does it. Hypocrites.

  3. 'this piece shows Arthur Martin and Tamara Cohen up for the subhuman smut-peddling scum that they are.'

    'subhuman'? I think calling people subhuman is pretty low to be honest. We are all human. Even Daily Mail journalists.

  4. Human, yes, and I'd even say we call our bugbears "subhuman" to avoid confronting what humans are capable of. But Mail hacks are definitely in the lower percentiles when it comes down to things like size of shred of humanity.

  5. I don't think Alex you are qualified to judge another person's humanity any more than anyone else. I have no evidence you are more or less human than those journalists. But liberals love to make out the Daily Mail are 'scum'. Why? Because they write as if other people are 'scum'?

    So who is worse?

  6. Elly:

    You say: "We are all human. Even Daily Mail journalists."

    You must realise that the above sentence is the same thing as that which you are criticising?

    I suspect you realise who is worse, it's called context. Calling someone a name for doing something horrible is a far smaller crime than circulating a newspaper with hateful rhetoric and frankly libellous claims.

  7. I was being ironic. I meant 'even Daily Mail journalists' from the perspective of this post and Alex's comments.

    I don't think Daily Mail journalists are any worse or better than Guardian journalists or bloggers.

    Sorry if I was not clear enough.

  8. Awful, awful.

    You've put it really well Nat.

    There was an interesting article in the guardian a while back that said drug use (pills and coke in particular) was actually going down in young ppl (weed and heroin always remains quite steady) for the first time, and part of the reason was because the celebs that are shown in the media as drug addicts, such as Lindsay Lohan, Amy Winehouse and Pete Doherty were seen as 'uncool' because they were generally looking quite a mess. Which is just a theory, i guess like the DM one is 'just a theory' but i thought it was quite interesting. In the past, drug taking celebs were 'cool' (i don't think taking drugs is "cool" btw) such as Keith Richards or the rave years, but now they're seen as quite ridiculous, tabloid fodder.

    Obviously you would not read that story in the daily mail.