‘Redheads under the bed’ as a substitute for good reporting

By Christian Nielsen

 A story that redhead sperm is not welcome at a Danish spermbank has gone global, reflecting how good reporting is being crowded out of the media by ‘incredible free content’.

Tuesday 20 September 2011

A Danish sperm bank, reportedly the largest ‘supplier’ in the world, has started turning down redheaded donors due to lack of demand for their sperm, according to UK daily The Telegraph last week. “There are too many redheads in relation to demand,” the sperm bank’s director was reported as saying by Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet.

The Australian daily The Age chimed in with its follow-up under the homepage teaser: “Sperm bank bans ‘ranga’ deposits”. The article’s subtle chastisement of “Europe” – presumably because Denmark happens to be on that continent – for such discriminatory treatment of redheads is a joke in a country – call it Australasia since it’s in that region – where redheads are routinely ridiculed, as elsewhere. Surely, the title of the story gives Australia’s own prejudices away. “Ranga” is a derogatory term for redheads which (presumably) comes from ‘Orang Utan’ due to the ape’s famous reddish locks.

In a story I wrote about discrimination against redheads for The Chronikler last year (“Not so simply red“), I neglected to include this term as one of the many that redheads are unfairly saddled with. The Age seems to have corrected that omission for me.

Actually, the worldwide reporting of this Danish story is a typical example of how the media works nowadays. A local story which appears in Denmark on 13 August is retrofitted by a major UK paper, in this case The Telegraph, which in turn inspires another English-speaking daily, The Age, to do its own take on the story. But if you go back to the so-called source, Ekstra Bladet, you can see that it is attributing Newspaq as the source of the story and quotes.

Where is the reporting in that? Who’s checking facts? The bottom-line in today’s media underscores one irrefutable fact: real journalists and reporters are being crowded out by ‘incredible free content’. Reporting and news is being replaced by syndicated content, newswires, and ready-made PR material produced by the growing body of ‘communicators’ hired to get their employers into the news. It’s working. The facts have become secondary to what can only be called a ‘too-good-to-be-true’ easy story.   


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