Media

Man “falls on to tracks”

On Thursday I was on the southbound KCR (sorry, that’s the MTR East Rail Line) when the train came to a halt in the Beacon Hill Tunnel just north of Kowloon Tong station. 

Cue the usual announcement about a train being in the platform at the next station, but it soon became apparent that this was something more serious.  The MTR website eventually announced that there was “a trespasser at Kowloon Tong station”, though there was a less euphemistic version (now deleted) from @mtrupdate (an unofficial source of news about the MTR train service).

After about 25 minutes the train reversed slowly back to Tai Wai station, where there was no service in either direction and long queues for taxis.

The Hong Kong Standard managed this top quality piece of journalism:

East Rail services disrupted after man falls onto tracks dies

Train services on East Rail Line were disrupted for about 30 minutes after a man in his 50s fell onto the tracks at Kowloon Tong station.

The middle-aged man was certified dead by emergency services at the scene.

At about 13:46pm this afternoon, the MTR Corporation said normal train service is gradually resuming after the person has been removed from the track area at the station.

Trains between Hung Hom and Sha Tin station were suspended.

The grammar! The tenses!  “13:46 pm this afternoon”.  And the interruption was actually close to an hour, rather than 30 minutes.  But I can’t find anything at all from the SCMP.

When does the MTR plans to install platform screen doors on the East Rail line?  It seems that this will have to wait for the much-delayed (and misleadingly named) Sha Tin to Central link:

Delays on MTR link, lack of platform doors seen as suicide risk 

Sunday, 14 December, 2014

Delays to the long-awaited Sha Tin-to-Central link could have a human cost, suicide-prevention experts warned as they called on the MTR Corporation to speed up installation of platform safety doors at stations.

A total of 22 stations on the East Rail and Ma On Shan lines still lack doors, leaving open access to the track. They will be installed as part of the work on the new railway, which is due to open in 2018 but is behind schedule.

From 2005 to April this year, 27 people took their own lives on stations run by the former KCR - including all of those without platform doors. In the same period, Transport Bureau figures show, nine people killed themselves at other MTR stations, with none since 2011.

[..] A spokeswoman for the MTR said gates would be installed on the two lines during the Sha Tin-to-Central project, which would involve platform modifications and a new signalling system.

"As some East Rail Line stations are about 100 years old, the platform structure has to be strengthened and the curvature at some platforms has to be adjusted," she said.

But with the HK$80 billion project 11 months behind schedule - in part because of the discovery of relics at the To Kwa Wan station site - Yip fears more unnecessary deaths.

"We have talked to the MTR for almost a decade and it is a matter of urgency now," he said. "When you go to Kowloon Tong or Sha Tin, there is quite a bit of risk … there are more cases at these two stations."

Kowloon Tong station is less than 40 years old (and very busy), so why not start there?


SCMP promoting random old news

Outbrain links (on The Guardian, unfortunately) on 10 November

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…promoting an Education Post story from seven months earlier:

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Outbrain links (again on The Guardian) on 23 November

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…promoting an Education Post story from three months earlier:

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Even more absurdly, they have in the past promoted an old news story about schools and kindergartens being closed due to a typhoon:

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Of course, Outbrain is nonsense, as the New York Times rightly points out:

Publishers Are Rethinking Those ‘Around the Web’ Ads

You see them everywhere, and maybe, sometimes, you click: those rows of links under web articles, often augmented with eye-catching photos and curiosity-stoking headlines about the latest health tips, celebrity news or ways to escape financial stress.

Usually grouped together under a label like “Promoted Stories” or “Around the Web,” these links are often advertisements dressed up to look like stories people might want to read. They have long provided much-needed revenue for publishers and given a wide range of advertisers a relatively affordable way to reach large and often premium audiences.

But now, some publishers are wondering about the effect these so-called content ads may be having on their brands and readers. This month, these ads stopped appearing on Slate. And The New Yorker, which restricted placement of such ads to its humor articles, recently removed them from its website altogether.

Among the reasons: The links can lead to questionable websites, run by unknown entities. Sometimes the information they present is false.

Or not exactly false but very old.  Here’s another take on this:

Have Publishers Lost Their Minds With Outbrain?

Outbrain is just another short-term fix that creates a long-term problem. You don’t have to take my word for it. Take it from one of the biggest-spending clients in the business, who clearly explained why this idea of buying traffic is sending premium publishers in the wrong direction.


Reckless media

Today’s SCMP on how the Hong Kong media reports suicides:

Reckless media reports encourage suicides, say experts at HKU centre

Experts from HKU centre say irresponsible reporting may trigger epidemic of people taking their lives and put pressure on families

Jennifer Ngo | South China Morning Post | Sunday, 08 September, 2013

Irresponsible media reporting of suicides encourages copycats and may even trigger an epidemic, warn experts from the University of Hong Kong's Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention.  It also caused additional hurt and put pressure on victims' families, a seminar heard yesterday. [..]

The centre yesterday released a guideline for media, developed with the Hong Kong Press Council, on how to report suicide cases ethically and avoid becoming a catalyst for copycat suicides.

Apple Daily is probably the worst offender, but the South China Morning Post (which presumably likes to think of itself as a respectable newspaper) is also guilty of reporting suicides in an irresponsible way, with information that can only have come from the police and speculation about why the individual chose to take their own life.  

Surprisingly, The Standard seems to be more responsible than the SCMP, managing at least to keep its reports more factual. 

I have been told that the reporting of suicides has improved compared to a few years ago, but it still falls a long way short of the guidelines that have been adopted by most British newspapers.  The story does not state whether any newspaper has committed to follow these new guidelines. 

Guidelines for Reporting Suicides

Reporting Approach

1. Editing

  • A suicide incident should not be placed on the front page of a newspaper or a media website unless it is in the public interest or is of grave public concern.
  • Avoid using a large headline when reporting a suicide incident.
  • Media websites should avoid cross-references with other suicide incidents reported on the website. Cross-references should instead be made to websites providing mental health services.
  • Avoid reporting past suicide incidents repeatedly.
  • Extra care should be taken when handling suicide incidents that involve notable persons, as their behavior is likely to be replicated because many view them as heroes or role models.

2. News Content

  • Avoid a detailed description of the suicide method or process.
  • Avoid using an emotional or glorifying tone to describe the suicidal behavior.
  • Avoid describing suicide as a solution.
  • Avoid presuming the reason for the suicidal behavior or simplifying the reason behind the suicide.

3. Use of Photographs

  • Avoid printing sanguinary, violent, revolting and/or pornographic photos.
  • Handle photos of the suicide victim or the suicide scene with care, and pixelate or blur the picture when appropriate.
  • Do not use made-up conversation or plots to describe the suicide process, consequences of or reason for the suicide.
  • Avoid using computer graphics or animation to describe the process, consequences of or reason for the suicide.
  • Avoid enlarging photos of suicides or suicide attempts, such as photos depicting a person jumping off a building.

Appreciation of Privacy

  • Respect the victim’s family privacy to avoid adding to their pain and sorrow.
  • Consideration should be given to the victim’s friends and family. Avoid the over reporting of a suicide incident, as it might affect their emotional recovery.

Education and Prevention

  • Consider including the signs of suicidal behavior in news reports to alertpeople who could offer help to people at risk of suicide.
  • Provide solutions and ways to seek help whenever possible in news reports,such as through comments and opinions from psychologists, social workers and teachers.
  • Provide information on and contact details for mental health and counseling services in news report to assist and support at risk people and their families.

It’s hard to believe that Apple Daily would sign up for this, but surely the South China Morning Post could do so.


Conservative Tories

I have read this several times, but I still don’t understand.  Aren’t all leading Conservative politicians in the UK also Tories?

Seeking the Right Way to Win: Why Conservatives on Both Sides of the Atlantic Are in Crisis

By ANDREW GIMSON  |  Time Magazine | Monday, Apr. 16, 2012

Conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic are in crisis. To British eyes, the race for the Republican nomination looks like a disaster, with no consensus emerging about what a modern Republican party can offer. But U.K. Conservatives do not appear to have any solution to the ideological morass of their American cousins.

A cursory glance might lead you to another conclusion. That's because British Prime Minister David Cameron is nominally a Tory, and so is the country's other major Conservative political figure, London Mayor Boris Johnson.

Wikipedia has this to say:

Tory - Current Usage

In Britain after 1832 the Tory Party was replaced by the Conservative Party, and "Tory" has become shorthand for a member of the Conservative Party or for the party in general. Many Conservatives still call themselves "Tory" to differentiate themselves from opponents, and the term is common in the media.

Boris Johnson?  All very well as London mayor (Boris or Ken – what a choice) but does anyone really seriously believe that he could become prime minister?  Being tipped as a future party leader is pretty much a guarantee that it won’t happen.


Ridiculous

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The Sun really is a ridiculous newspaper.  Their front page today has this nonsense about a ‘Brown Monday’:

DEFEATED Gordon Brown yesterday sparked fears of a City meltdown after trying to hijack a Tory-Lib Dem deal for a unity government.

His bid to rise from the dead by persuading the Lib Dems to prop him up raised the prospect of a stock market "Brown Monday".

World markets were expected to dump the Pound as the deadlock at Westminster continued to cause widespread political and financial chaos.

A deadline for coming to a coalition deal last night was missed - opening up the prospect of a massive wobble when the markets opened at 7am today.

Mr Brown made a desperate late bid to get the Lib Dems on side.

Despite claiming he was acting in the nation's interests, his meddling was not welcome by City experts as he threatened Nick Clegg's delicate talks with David Cameron.

City experts?  Pah..  So how is the Pound?  Here’s The Guardian

9.49am: Looking at Britain again, and the pound has strengthened against the dollar to a morning high of $1.4984 (from $1.48 last Friday). This has compounded (for now at least) speculation of a 'Brown Monday' on the markets as investors ditched the pound because of fears of a Hung Parliament.

12.04pm: The pound perks up after the Bank of England's decision to leave interest rates on hold. It rose 1.4% against the dollar to hit the day's high at $1.5017, but was little changed against the euro.


Lost and found

Appropriately enough, it was while waiting to travel in cattle class that I read this article in Newsweek about flying in a first class suite on the new Airbus A380 (A Room of One’s Own).

What really horrified me was this part:

From the moment you arrive (generally in a dedicated hall decked out like a fancy hotel), you are greeted by a personal attendant, a kind of butler/sherpa who quietly whisks you toward your aircraft, sending you sailing through exclusive check-in, passport control, and security lanes so fast you barely have time to unlace your shoes.

Such personal attention is seductive—and dangerous, as I discovered on the first leg of my journey. On my way out of New York, I was so distracted by the presence of my minder that I temporarily forgot my suitcase on the X-ray belt.

Oddly, the online edition goes no further, but if you read the print edition you will know that the journalist only realized his mistake as the plane was about to take off.  That’s unlucky, you might think.  Well, yes, except that Singapore Airlines allowed him to disembark and go back to pick up his bag.  This delayed the takeoff by 40 minutes.

Now, if I were onboard an A380 waiting to fly long-haul, I would feel very upset if I had to wait that long because an absent-minded passenger had left something behind.

So is it just coincidence that this tale (which I think reflects badly on both the journalist and the airline) is missing from the online edition?


A big mistake

Santander 001

Time magazine has a story about Santander: The Most Boring Bank in the World.  Except that it seems not to be so boring:

Santander's only stumble has been steering some of its private-banking clients into Bernard Madoff's Ponzi machine through its Geneva-based Optimal hedge funds. It moved fast to make good, offering to repay 100% of the sums invested. Santander says 94% of its Madoff victims have accepted, costing the bank $648 billion at current exchange rates. It also returned $235 million to the Madoff estate in a settlement of claw-back claims with U.S. trustee Irving Picard.

Still, for a bank that can get a bit smug about its meticulousness, the Madoff stain, albeit minor, will be hard to rub out. It's also one of the reasons why Santander's private-banking business is in the red. "We were caught in a fraud, but it was still a mistake," concedes chief financial officer Juan Antonio Alvarez.

$648bn is a really big mistake.  Talking of mistakes, I wonder if possibly the figure should be $648 million.  Just a thought.