Can You See Through the ‘Spin’? Part 2

The playing fields of England’s public schools may be a far remove from Israel’s occupied territories but for many journalists the same principles apply. Spin and slanted journalism go hand in hand in both arenas. So whilst at first glance following may seem innocent and even funny, the overall effect is to deceive and distort. Resulting in a story of genuine human pathos being buried behind the façade of ‘balanced’ journalism:

Teacher Viewed Nudes On His Laptop

By Simon de Bruxelles writing in The Times 21 May 2002

A MATHEMATICS master at a public school was on sick leave yesterday after pupils complained that he was viewing pornography on his laptop computer while invigilating an examination.

Richard Jowett, a senior teacher at Marlborough College, where fees are £16,500 a year, forgot that he had left the computer linked to an electronic display screen in the examination room.

Twenty minutes after sitting down to take the mock AS level mathematics exam a girl pupil looked up and saw images of naked women on the screen. The pupil who has not been named is said to have gasped and fled the room.

Edward Gould, the Master, said in a statement yesterday: “While invigilating a practice examination involving 17 pupils three weeks ago, Richard Jowett used a computer and entered a website for 13 minutes containing still photos of naked adult women. The classroom monitor was on and some pupils saw the photographs.” He said that an investigation led to disciplinary action, but refused to say whether Mr Jowett would be returning.

Yes, it is quite funny. In fact it almost sounds like something from an old “Carry On” film, full of gentle humour and unspoken innuendo. Or at least that is how its been framed.

However this writer happens to live near Marlborough College and after making a few inquiries among the pupils there a very different picture began to emerge. For a start the girl who first saw the photos did not, as reported, gasp and flee the room: and this was according to friends of the girl herself. In fact the pupils we spoke to seemed either unconcerned with the whole incident, or genuinely sympathetic toward Mr Jowett. One young girl even said that he was a “sick” man suffering from “cancer.” The Times however omits to mention this critical human element; instead we get a one-dimensional portrayal that amounts to little more than a cartoon caricature. Of course it might make readers smile but that is not real journalism, that’s entertainment. And if London’s premier newspaper can distort the facts in a relatively innocent story like this: what are they doing with other, more important stories?

Or as one young pupil put it: “It only goes to show that you can’t believe everything you read in the papers.”