Agendas, Newspapers and Trains

Published on 21 November 2005 in , , , , , , , , ,

I love a good piece of unbiased, non-partisan, well researched reporting from my news sources. Which is why I tend to avoid This Is Local London.

Alas, I was pointed in the direction of a lovely piece about rising fares on Silverlink’s train services.

You know it’s going to be a quality article when the second paragraph comes up with this gem:

While Mayor of London Ken Livingstone has frozen most prices for those using Oyster cards from next year, passengers paying cash for tickets will see the cost of trips within a single zone rocket from £1.30 to £3.

This is Local London: Fares are set to double on North London Line

Of course, as anyone who knows anything about the nations railways will tell you, Ken Livingstone has absolutely no control over rail fares or indeed railway companies. So you’ve got to love the way the article brazenly words the paragraph in such a way that it strongly implies that the fare rise is all Ken’s fault, without actually physically saying so. Which of course means that the casual reader will cast his or her eye over the piece, and know who to blame. Nothing like a good agenda is there?

Yes, it’s got to be said. Doubling the price of train fares isn’t nice. And I wonder how the people responsible – privatised train company Silverlink by the way, not Ken Livingstone – have managed to get that approved. That’s assuming it has been approved anyway, and the rest of the story isn’t a pack of lies. Whatever the truth though, trying to rest the blame on the Mayor of London is quite frankly disgraceful.

It’s quite clear the article’s author/editor know TfL and Ken have absolutely nothing to do with it, because there is not a single quote from TfL on the matter of the price rise. Not one single word. So either when asked for a quote, TfL said something along the lines of “nothing to do with us, mate” when asked (in which case the writer knew the score) or they were never asked for a quote on that subject (in which case the writer knew the score)

Indeed, the only quote comes from Green Party politician Darren Johnson who says:

“It is quite unfair people will be hit hard. As long as there are so many anomalies, I just think it’s so unfair to have a massive increase in fares. It needs a re-think.”

Which is fair enough (or should that be fare enough) until you consider the paragraph before that:

Darren Johnson, Green Party London Assembly member, has branded the price hikes unfair’, and believes that Mr Livingstone should suspend the inflation-busting rises until the Oyster sensors are installed.

Now this is not a direct quote, so we can only hope that Darren Johnson didn’t actually say that, and is sat at home feeling very annoyed about being made to look like a complete buerk. Because even if Oyster sensors were installed, the fare structure has bog all to do with Ken, so installing them won’t make a single difference to passengers pockets.

But that doesn’t really matter because having read this, the papers aim will have no doubt been made – Ken will get a few more anti-votes – perhaps enough for him to be replaced next time round, perhaps by someone who’s anti congestion charge maybe?

Still today’s printed piles of rubbish, are tomorrows fish and chip wrappers. Or some relevant metaphor for the online world anyway.