The Daily Mail’s front page coverage of the “operation to raze the squalid Calais refugee camp known as the Jungle” was quiet surprising. OK it started with its usual uniformed sensationalist use of language right from the headline “Riot police storm The Jungle” – anyone who has viewed the extensive film coverage (it was a worldwide PR event after all) could see that the gendarmes did not storm in; they walked in. Even the CRS, who are given to a great deal of sturm und drang, were fairly laid back for them – OK they did rough up activists and migrants alike, taking cheap shots against the Salam volunteers and No Borders activists trying to passively protect the obviously frightened youngsters in the camp, but that is nothing compared to their usual behaviour.
However, the thing that really jumped out of the page at you is the line “By Daily Mail Reporter”. What no Daily Mail reporter on the ground? A quick comparison with coverage in other newspapers clearly showed that large chunks of the text were cut and pasted from the Press Association (PA) news-wire article by Katie Hodge, with Associated Press (AP) pictures.** Now this is a very common occurrence in today’s 24/7 news media where, as Nick Davies in ‘Flat Earth News' named it, churnailsm has taken over from good old-fashioned journalism.
So, initially it looked as if the paper that has in the past boasted about its standards and the use of ‘senior and well-respected’ journalist on the ground collecting stories, had in fact not bothered to employ anybody to cover what it had been campaigning almost single-handedly amongst the tabloids, the closure of the ‘Jungle’. That and the usual stupid mistakes and bizarre spin, “Up to 500 officers were at the site - one for each remaining migrant”, implying that there might be up to 500 migrants in the camp when it was plain for anyone to see in the few days leading up to the eviction that there was fewer than 300 migrants present in the ‘Jungle’. Oh, and everyone else seemed to think that there were 600 police there but that is an easy mistake to make, estimating large numbers, as previous wildly oscillating estimates of the ‘Jungle’ inhabitants have shown.
Further inspection of the text and an earlier on-line version of the article (see a copy of the text here) published at 11:34 pm the night before, together with 2 articles [1, 2] in the Telegraph under the by-line Peter Allen, who has tried to cover the Calais story in the past with varying degrees of accuracy, reveal another source for some of the article (see below). In fact whole chunks have been tweaked used in both – lets hope he got paid twice.***
Other quotes from Jessica Nora Shadia of Dunkirk appeared elsewhere in the Guardian. Then that quote and the whole of the following 3 paragraphs appeared on-line at the Express and Channel4 sites, so it is difficult to tell where this came from originally. More wire service text?
As for the ‘real’ Mail text, we have to look no further than the first few paragraphs: “An operation to raze the squalid Calais refugee camp” – pure Mailese; “French riot police said to be armed with flamethrowers, stun guns and tear gas” – the flamethrower idea come from the Telegraph the day before, and yes the CRS are always armed with tear gas and stun guns, so no story there! We’ve covered the ‘500 officers for every ’remaining migrant’, so “many more asylum-seekers…are thought to have escaped the camp before nightfall”, well they didn’t so much escape as simply walk out just as the media were allowed to freely move into the camp. After all, the French authorities wanted as fewer migrants there as possible to make the who PR event run nice and smoothly.
And we go on, “military units are in reserve near the Channel Tunnel entrance in case of disorder”, dramatic but true – Natacha Bouchard for one was no doubt sad that she didn’t get her way and have the army used to destroy the ‘Jungle’; “efforts have so far been hampered by the presence of scores of camera crews and human rights organisation representatives” – not the Mail, we use AP pics on this story. Just what was being hampered by the presence of press and human rights representatives (those pesky leftie do-gooders!)? Certainly not the rounding up of 280 odd migrants by more than twice the number of armed police.
And that’s about it. There rest is lifted from wire service copy and Peter Allen’s ‘play up the Islam and defending the mosque’ angle. So all-in-all a thoroughly disappointing effort from the paper that has spent so much time, effort and newsprint in trying to demonise the Calais migrants. And what are they going to do now once the ‘Jungle’ problem has gone away? Except it hasn’t gone away and there will be lots of opportunity to play the ‘illegal’ immigration and Islamophobia cards in the days to come, as the ‘New squalid migrant camp pops up in Calais hours after the Jungle is razed’ story today proves (we will have an analysis and some other recent mail stories in MailWatch #4 Part 2 tomorrow).
* The original story was titles 'Next stop UK: As riot police storm The Jungle migrant camp at Calais, a defiant message from the asylum seekers' but the on-line version has been the subject of heavy and persistent editing, so there is no link to it. Instead the version in question is copied as text below. The same occurred with the Guardian article, also below.
** You certainly wouldn't blame the Mail photographer who did the 'Bloody siege of Calais' story [see], he is definitely a marked man. On that tack, it seems that some journalists will stop at nothing to get their story, even masquerading as No Borders activists in order to be taken into the confidence of Calais migrants. Just a little gripe, but such acts of duplicity have at times undermined the rapport that activists on the ground have put a lot of time and effort in to achieving. So the next time one of you journos doesn't find themselves greeted with smiles and openness, it's probably down to one of your 'trade' having just undermined the trust that you had spent time building up with us!
*** Especially as he wrote about migrants and left-wing protesters fighting with police. [See]
Next stop UK: As riot police storm The Jungle migrant camp at Calais, a defiant message from the asylum seekers
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 9:36 AM on 22nd September 2009
An operation to raze the squalid Calais refugee camp known as the Jungle was underway this morning, led by French riot police said to be armed with flamethrowers, stun guns and tear gas.
Up to 500 officers were at the site - one for each remaining migrant in the shanty town of tarpaulin tents and rickety shacks.
Many more asylum-seekers hoping to reach Britain are thought to have escaped the camp before nightfall so they can avoid being sent back to the European country they first entered.
Military units are in reserve near the Channel Tunnel entrance in case of disorder and efforts have so far been hampered by the presence of scores of camera crews and human rights organisation representatives.
A total of 278 people have so far been detained, French police confirmed.
Minor scuffles broke out and a dozen immigrants who were refusing to move were dragged and carried out of the camp by police. Some were still eating their breakfast in tents when police descended on the site. [second sentence a direct lift from the Press Association]
Around 150 migrants were standing quietly behind banners marked 'we need shelter and protection, we want peace'. [PA]
Some camp dwellers, many of whom were children, were dragged away by police officers and put into waiting buses. Others were escorted out. [PA]
Protesters, some in tears, shouted slogans at the police, including: 'Shame on France.' [PA]
Aid worker Sylvie Copyans, from the group Salam, described the heavy-handed police response was ‘disproportionate and sickening’. [PA rewrite]
To highlight this she told how a frightened Afghan boy called Ali was torn from her arms by police as she wept.
She said: 'I tried to hide him, he was very, very frightened.’ [PA]
Jessica Nora Shadia, 25, from Dunkirk, said: 'It's shameful. They treat people like animals. Children were being pushed to the floor as if people have nothing. It's so sad. [Guardian/Express/Channel4]
'We tried to help them,' she shrugged: 'What can you do.' [Express/Channel4]
An aid worker who declined to be named, added: 'I think it's not human. They dragged people out of their tents. It isn't fair. [Express/Channel4]
'These are people, young people, they deserve so much more than this. It's a scandal.' [Express/Channel4]
According to aid agencies, the immigrants were being taken in buses to police stations to be processed. [PA]
From there they will be sent back to the countries where they entered the European Union. [PA]
It was thought that many will end up in Greece, one of the main points of entry for the immigrants. But aid agencies have predicted that many will end up back on the streets. [PA]
Today French immigration minister Eric Besson insisted that the clearing of 'The Jungle' was an important step in making Calais ‘watertight’ to illegal migrants.
Just before the clearance operation began he said: ‘I want us to dismantle this camp which is a base for people traffickers.
‘There are traffickers who make these poor people pay an extremely high price for a ticket to England.
‘This is not a humanitarian camp. It's a base for people traffickers.’
But migrants, most of them from Afghanistan and Iraq, last night sent out the defiant message: 'The only place we are going from here is Britain'.
A 22-year-old from Kabul, who gave his name as Rezna, spoke for many when he said: 'We're determined to stay as close to the port as possible because it's the way to England. Nothing will stop us getting there. We are all absolutely determined to start a new life in Britain.'
The sheer squalor of the camp is one reason for its closure. Piles of rubbish lie strewn everywhere and the stench of rotting food and human waste fills the air.
Many of the camp's inhabitants, and most of the women and children who were there, have already fled, leaving behind a hard core of young men.
They are resigned to losing their temporary shelters but pledged yesterday to defend their makeshift mosque - by far the best-built structure on the camp. [Peter Allen rewrite]
'We are expecting the worst when the police arrive, but will defend our mosque at all costs,' said Rachid, a 21-year-old Afghan. 'It is extremely important to us. It is a holy place where we pray night and day - the police must not harm it.' [Peter Allen]
Mansoor, 32, another Afghan, said: 'We do not want any trouble, but fighting sometimes breaks out because of the way we are treated. If they show disrespect to our mosque then we will respond accordingly.' [Peter Allen]
The French authorities had waited until the end of Ramadan before tackling the Jungle. [Peter Allen]
The camp is a magnet for people from all over the world determined to cross the Channel and reach Britain. Once here, they claim asylum or disappear into the black economy. [Peter Allen]
Home Secretary Alan Johnson said yesterday he was delighted about the impending closure. [PA]
He shrugged off calls by Antonio Guterres, head of the UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, who called on to take some of the inhabitants of the Jungle, arguing it could be the 'right solution'.
Mr Johnson said genuine refugees should apply for asylum in the country where they entered the EU. [PA]
He said: 'I met with Eric Besson...to discuss the issue of illegal immigrants in northern France.
'I stressed the importance to our joint relationship of closing the Jungle at Calais and was delighted to be told that France is honouring our July agreement in Evian by closing the camp by the end of the week.
'The UK has a robust system for dealing with both asylum seekers and immigration and provides protection to those who are genuinely in need. [PA]
'Reports that the UK will be forced to take illegal immigrants from the Jungle are wrong. [PA]
'Both countries are committed to helping individuals who are genuine refugees, who should apply for protection in the first safe country they reach. [PA]
'We expect those who are not in need of protection to return home.' [PA]
Hundreds of police clear Calais migrant camp
By Katie Hodge, Press Association
Tuesday, 22 September 2009
French police today cleared a controversial immigrant camp in Calais known as 'the jungle'.
Hundreds of officers surrounded the camp at first light, rounding up dozens of people who had been living in the tent city on the edge of the Channel port.
There were minor scuffles as the camp dwellers, some in tears, were led away.
Dozens of protesters had also gathered at the site ahead of the operation and began chanting slogans at the police.
Around 150 migrants were at the camp, standing quietly behind banners which declared: "We need shelter and protection, we want peace."
But aid workers said the news that the French government was to close the camp, confirmed last night, prompted many more to flee.
As the police moved in, the activists began shouting: "No borders. No nation. No deportation."
About a dozen migrants who were refusing to move were dragged and carried out of the camp by police.
Some migrants were still eating their breakfast in tents when police descended on the site.
The camp had been home to hundreds of mainly Afghan asylum seekers, some of them just children.
Home Secretary Alan Johnson said he was "delighted" about its closure.
Britain has ruled out taking them in, and Mr Johnson said genuine refugees should apply for asylum in the country where they entered the EU.
Speaking after talks in Brussels with his French counterpart Eric Besson yesterday, Mr Johnson said reports that Britain could be "forced" to take the immigrants were "wrong".
EU justice commissioner Jacques Barrot had reportedly demanded a change in European law to allow a "significant number" to be fast-tracked into Britain.
But Mr Johnson said: "The UK has a robust system for dealing with both asylum seekers and immigration and provides protection to those who are genuinely in need.
"Reports that the UK will be forced to take illegal immigrants from the 'jungle' are wrong.
"Both countries are committed to helping individuals who are genuine refugees, who should apply for protection in the first safe country that they reach.
"We expect those who are not in need of protection to return home."
However, Keith Best, chief executive of the Immigration Advisory Service charity, warned that shutting the camp would simply shift the problem to another part of Calais.
He said: "I remember seven years ago when (former) home secretary David Blunkett and the then French minister of the interior Nicolas Sarkozy congratulated themselves on the closure of the Red Cross centre at Sangatte, but the hundreds of asylum seekers merely moved to the dockside of Calais.
"The liquidation of the jungle will have the same transitory effect."
"What is needed is a commitment by the French authorities at all levels to admit asylum seekers to their procedures promptly.
"At present it is very difficult to claim asylum in France as those to whom I spoke admitted.
"The French are not playing their part in allowing people to claim asylum in Calais, despite their obligation under the Refugee Convention."
Moments before the police launched today's operation, about 100 people were huddled around a fire in an attempt to ward off the cold as the Muslim call to prayer rang out.
Fifteen-year-old Sail Pardes, from eastern Afghanistan, has been at the camp for six months and is hoping to make his way to England.
He said: "The most important thing is to get to England. I want to go to school and become a better person."
Sylvie Copyans, of aid group Salam, said some of the immigrants have been in the camp for up to eight months.
She said: "It's exactly like when they closed Sangatte. It's now exactly the same. They are saying no immigrants in Calais, they can't stay here. But if they are made to leave they will just go to another squat. It's more and more difficult every day."
She added: "They are young, they have a lot of hopes and wishes. They are brave and courageous. They often have no family, that is difficult for them."
Some camp dwellers were dragged away by police officers and put into waiting buses. Others were escorted out.
Protesters, some in tears, shouted slogans at the police, including: "Shame on France."
According to aid agencies, the immigrants were being taken in buses to police stations to be processed.
From there they will be sent back to the countries where they entered European Union.
It was thought that many will end up in Greece, one of the main points of entry for the immigrants.
But aid agencies have predicted that many will end up back on the streets.
The French authorities said there were 500-600 officers involved in today's operation.
They detained 278 people, of whom 132 declared themselves children, according to the Prefect of Pas-de-Calais Pierre de Bousquet de Florian.
The adults were being taken to various police stations and the children to "special centres", he said.
Four police divisions had been drafted in to help, including the national anti-riot force the CRS.
French immigration minister Eric Besson was expected to speak to journalists in Calais later today.