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Was the Mirror right to feature that crying girl on their foodbanks front page?

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MirrorFrontToday’s Daily Mirror front page is a hard-hitting one. Foodbanks have helped feed almost 350,000 children in the space of a year – 930,000 people have been helped in total.

It’s a scandal and it’s growing.

So naturally, it’s a big story and the Mirror is right to highlight it on its front page today.

But has it got it right?

The striking image of a crying child looking directly at you means you have to take a good look at the front page. The headlines suggest that she’s crying because she’s hungry.

So far, so textbook journalism.

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But, as has been quickly pointed out by fellow journalists,it’s not a picture taken specially for the article. The clue is in the picture credit on the website version of the story. It’s a stock photo from the Getty/Flickr.

Nick Sutton, a BBC journalist who tweets #tomorrowsfrontpages, revealed that the picture was taken five years ago and was about a little girl crying over the loss of their ‘pet’ earthworm. It’s about as far removed from the subject matter as possible.

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Is it ethical? Is the Mirror just using this to manipulate us into thinking something else?

Almost certainly.

The Mirror has a history of ‘shock issues’ – back in the 60s and 70s it would run stark, memorable front pages on issues of the day, including seal clubbing and elections. This is a front page that harks back to its glory days.

However, it’s a mistake to use a stock image in this way. They could have called on the services of Griffin, one the best modern cartoonists, or found a way of emphasising the million people helped without resorting to manipulating emotions using a picture of a child upset because of an earthworm. 

 

And don’t even get me started on the Mirror’s use of the typeface Interstate for its headlines… but that’s a whole other blog. 

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