Saturday, 21 March 2015

If You Want To Be Strictly Accurate...

An interesting phenomenon which becomes apparent when being an established blogger is the nature of the readership - it never fails to amaze who actually reads the bog. Despite being dismissed as "electronic version of pub gossip", bloggers can sometimes make a real difference.

With this in mind it's interesting that for the first time this blog has had readership from the European Parliament. Since my previous post was published yesterday on why a 2015 EU referendum cannot happen the hit rate from the EU Parliament has been very significant.

It's hard to pin down influence of course, but sometimes media reports which belatedly begin to write about very familiar themes in similar language can be difficult to explain away as mere coincidences.

An example would be in a piece in today's Telegraph; 11 things we've learned about Jeremy Clarkson. The piece relates to Top Gear's Stig delivering a petition to the BBC's London headquarters to call for the return of the show's host, Jeremy Clarkson, while being transported on this - pictured below:

The vehicle is virtually identical to the one which was used during a protest outside the UKIP Spring Conference in Margate back in February:

It was universally described as a tank, however as EUReferendum noted:
If one wonders just how naff the Daily Mail can become, one just needs to visit the headline of their piece on the Ukip spring conference in Margate. There, we are told, the Ukipites were "gatecrashed" by "NAZI dancing troupe goose-stepping through Margate in front of a Second World War tank".

Notwithstanding any other errors, the vehicle in question is not a tank – it is an Abbot FV433 self-propelled gun. And it is not of World War II vintage. It was actually introduced into British Army service in 1965. I remember it well as, about that time, I was nearly flattened by one when it came hurtling down a track on which we had pitched our tent (don't ask).
Therefore and rather interestingly half way down Telegraph piece today, we have this by the author of the piece Anita Singh, Arts and Entertainment Editor:
A man dressed as Top Gear's Stig has delivered the petition to the BBC's London headquarters in a tank (or self-propelled artillery, if you want to be strictly accurate).
This provokes two interesting observations. One that given the media as a whole have described it as tank, that Anita Singh acknowledges accurately it might be something else such as self-propelled artillery - of where there is only one source to report this - suggests strongly blogs are read.

The second is the dismissive tone of describing self-propelled artillery as "if you want to be strictly accurate". These are two completely different types of military vehicle.

To give an analogy, in the spirit of Clarkson and Top Gear, we could say that the car pictured below is obviously a Mercedes-AMG GT which has 4.0-litre V8 biturbo and produces 462hp. This allows it to achieve 0-60 mph in as little as 3.8 seconds.

But of course "if you want to be strictly accurate" we would note the picture is actually one of an Enzo Ferrari.

What a good example that is of a newspaper publicly acknowledging that "being strictly accurate" is an optional extra.


  1. do you think the ukip mep's have been getting some information and knowledge from this blog?
    sorry, silly me.

    1. I've no idea...I didn't specifically mention UKIP MEPs in this piece.

      Basically I was making more of a general observation. For example there was a marked change in the language of Open Europe after we complained and wrote about it regarding the Norway Option.

  2. Quite honesty TBF, although I too would want to point out the difference due to my having worked on the Abbott's capability, I really don't think it makes a great deal of difference to the man in the street. It look like a small tank because it is a tracked vehicle with a big gun sticking out the front. Stories about anti-EU UKIP demos or Clarkson's antics don't need to get too bogged down in detail. If you're writing a story about fighting vehicles (e.g. those that were crossing the Russian/Ukraine border) then yes, you do need to be accurate.

  3. TBF, I'm with regarding accuracy; it has to be of prime importance when reporting on matters otherwise one could not take anything that is written for granted, having then to verify from other sources. In which case why bother reading what the original author has written. The cavalier attitude of journalists with regard to accuracy and veracity is at the core of why they are not trusted.

    As for the matter of the self-propelled gun, all that was needed was for the journalist to refer to it as such, and omit the snideness of the way it is reported. Not being able to restrain herself is quite revealing of this particular journalist's personal qualities.

  4. Despite being dismissed as "electronic version of pub gossip", bloggers can sometimes make a real difference.

    Especially en masse. Usmanov.