Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Part 27 - Here Comes The Sun (© Jamie Ross)

I’m not an angry man. In fact, I’m so cowardly, weak and placid that my bottled up rage will almost definitely one day manifest itself through me rampaging around the streets of Kinross, naked besides a blood red bandana, maniacally thrashing around with a crude homemade machete - possibly screaming and weeping about the time that Jamie Webb stole my Golden Charizard card in primary three. Today was so very nearly that day.

As I mentioned in my last entry, this blog was featured in The Independent on Monday. It was a very easy process, I was asked to choose five or six of my favourite entries, edit them down into a 3000 word article and have it ready by the weekend. Monday came, the article looked good, I had an obscene amount of hits on the blog and my Twitter army of cancer fans reached an astronomical 143. That may not sound like much, but ask yourself how many Twitter followers Stephen Fry had when he was 20. I’m not saying that this makes me better than Stephen Fry, but that is exactly what I’m secretly thinking.

As the day went on, many nice people got in touch to say that they enjoyed the article or wished me luck for my scan next month. Not everyone thought this was necessary which is probably just aswell, I don’t want to end up berating anyone who attempts to contact me like Ringo Starr, but there is one group of people who I would have appreciated a quick note from - namely the entire features team of The Scottish Sun. Apparently, they loved the article so much that they decided to publish 2000 heavily-edited and copyrighted words of mine in a double-page feature, complete with photographs of me that I’d never seen before. This was without asking me, notifying me, paying me, or consulting me. In fact, the first I heard of it was when someone texted my Dad this morning.

In any media coverage of this blog, I’ve painstakingly made sure that it’s been presented for what it is - an attempt at comedy writing about a situation I happen to find myself in. This isn‘t what The Sun decided this was about, though. Apparently, these thirty-thousand words are just one massive faltering cover-up which helps me pretend to the world that I don’t spend my entire current life perilously close to drowning in my own tears.

They led with the stomach-turning headline of ‘Blog of Courage’ and tediously droned on about what a “brave teen” I am. I’m astonished that it didn't come with a huge cut-outable photo of my smiling, pale face for housewives across the country to hold their shriekingly oversentimental candlelit vigils next to - most likely with ‘Kinross Princess’ emblazoned in massive lettering across it. There seems to be some insane belief amongst idiot headline writers that having cancer instantly makes you brave. It doesn’t. It makes you bald, podgy, ill and bored - ‘Blog of Sheer Tedium’ would have been a far more appropriate headline. I had to wake up my Mum at 4am last week specifically so she could remove a below-average sized spider from my room - that‘s your sodding megahero, The Sun.

It’s not just the sheer, horrific tweeness of the article that makes it amongst the worst things ever to happen to me either:

They edited it to within an inch of its life, as if they were hell-bent on whittling it down to the twenty least entertaining and most disjointed words of each blog. It makes me look like an utterly abysmal writer who got in the paper thanks to a dying wish foundation scheme.

They put words such as “MOCKED”, “FORCE” and “SILENCE” in huge emboldened letters outwith the main text, presumably for the benefit of the vast majority of Sun readers who can‘t read full sentences. They've specifically chosen words which make it sound like I’ve been living in a Nazi concentration camp for the past seven months. I may have used these words at some point but, if they really had to summarise seven months of weekly entries in three words, I'd have suggested “TESTICLE”, “BALLS” and “COCK”.

They inexplicably used a picture I had never seen in which my eyes are closed. They used a family photograph which I only allowed to be used in The Independent. They made me inadvertently write in the fucking Sun, effectively destroying all the good work that‘s gone into my writing CV recently. All of this, need I repeat, without asking me, notifying me, paying me or consulting me.

Since sending them a massive, furious and pretentious email whining at them to "respect my artistic merit" (piss off, I was angry) they’ve come to the conclusion that stealing the copyrighted life’s work of a 20-year-old cancer patient isn’t really the coolest thing to do. They’ve offered me a fee, although it’s far smaller than the one I got for The Independent despite the fact that it‘s almost exactly the same content, albeit terribly edited. Apparently, this is because “it’s already been in The Independent” - as if it were I who had forced these dreadful people to spit out 2000 of my words in their gutter paper, seemingly in an entirely random order. What an awful bastard I am.

Well, The Sun, lest ye forget that I have a full 143 Twitter followers.

Minions - unleash hell.

I did have the link to the article here but it's since been hastily removed from their website due to an increased realisation that what they did was both twatty and illegal. If you want to voice displeasure about it you could get in touch with David Dinsmore, the editor of the Scottish Sun. You can get his email address and follow developments of this at http://www.bloggerheads.com/archives/2009/04/david_dinsmore.asp.

I also linked this specific blog entry in a comment at the bottom of the Sun article under the cunning guise of 'Jamie_Brave_ Ross' which was swiftly removed. It's my sodding story!

Anyway, here's the lovely, authorised Independent article.

23 comments:

Ann said...

I know you were angry at the Sun using your piece without consent. The Sun is read by a lot of our armed forces, as I can testify when I got home yesterday to find that my Stepson and his fiancee who are currently on holiday with me and who both serve onboard HMS Chatham had read the article avidly. So I thank you for raising their awareness of the condition, and they and I send you best wishes.

Tim said...

Ann: You don't make it clear if you think The Sun doing what they did without consent is a good thing, a bad thing, or both. If you could clarify your position, I'd be most grateful.

Jamie: I must say that I'm appalled, but not entirely surprised.

Pardlerum said...

I am overjoyed that we can now post insightful comments to Jamie's blog. Unfortunately I have nothing to say.

Pardlerum said...

No - hang on - just thought of something.

I don't like the dots in the background.

Sam said...

Grrr I feel your anger, what a flippin' rip off mate.

jamieross said...

The dots have made this site what it is.

Unattractive.

Anorak said...

Jamie

I've put a post up on Anorak about this.

"Brave" - that's a fucking death sentence in tabloid land.

http://www.anorak.co.uk/media/205953.html

I'd be happy to have you wrire for us... if you're interested...

Sera said...

Wow, that's... that's quite awful. What a horrid paper. They stole from you and they kept me from seeing COCK in big black newspring.

Have you contacted The Independent? The Sun not only stole from you, but they also stole something The Independent commissioned from you. The Idenpendent's lawyers might be willing to get involved.

Petesy said...

That's pretty crap treatment, sory to hear you're on the sharp end of the journalist drought up there. If it's any consolation, a pal of mine went through the same shite (the cancer bit, not the Sun bit) and came out the other end with a smile on his face. Same condition and all.

It's a shame the Sun try to rip you off to sell their sleazy rag. I haven't touched it since Hillsborough, and I still won't. Your experiences back up my gut feel.

Best wishes, Pete

BritSwedeGuy said...

You have to wonder what the scum who work for the Sun, Mail and Express were thinking when they first started to study journalism - assuming they did study journalism and did think anything.

Tim Footman said...

Cheer up, at least you don't come from Dunblane.

Christian Sinclair, MD said...

Found you via Bloggerheads. Looking forward to going through your archives. Thanks for writing.

James Hendicott said...

Jamie, you should really sue the sun. They've obviously annoyed you, and you can take them on 'no win, no fee' and should get a fair chunk out of them, especially as they stole your words without even contacting you. That's a clear breach of copyright, and you have a copyright logo stuck up on your site.

I'm also a writer - though substantially less successful than you right now - and I certainly wouldnt hesitate. Give me a shout via my blog if I can help you at all. And, of course, best of luck, I'm sure you'll pull through just fine.

James

Paddy said...

Sue. They have no right. Also contact a PR like the (slightly creepy) Max Clifford Associates who will manage to make a stink where you come out richer, the Sun poorer, and promote your writing at the same time.

Alice said...

I'm appalled, but I would expect no less from the tabloid press. At the very least, you've got one new Twitter follower out of this.

Martin Fitzpatrick said...

You might want to consider contacting the Press Complaints Commission also. No idea how much good it will do but perhaps worth a shot... :)

I think you have them on 1, 2 and 3.

Theo said...

just don't except the mony they have offered you (this time around)
it may act as some consolidation

it gives you great leaverage the fact that they have already offerd it
the chances are they won't with tract the offer they may change it but they certianly won't make it smaller bare it in mind

Mildly Interesting said...

That is appalling, but then the journalist who wrote that and those who write similar things (such as the Dunblane 'story' and those associated with it) would appear to not care. They don't care about the people or stories they write about but rather how they write the stories. They also don't care about the wider effect their articles have on their readership but just want to sensationalise stories without to much regard for fact, to increase readership figures at any cost (see MMR!!!)

I'm glad this story has led me to an interesting blog though and am gonna start reading from the beginning or at least will try if I can stop laughing about your Bulgarian friend...

Kasai said...

Sad to say it's a long time since newsapers sold news - now all they sell is paper, and there are idiots out there who'll buy it no matter what crap's printed on it. They're no longer fit for the title of journalist, they're mere sensationalists trying to charge you for tomorrows chip wrapper. In fact, come to think of it, apparently newsprint is no longer good enough to wrap your chips in, either.

roses and sex and haggis said...

How much of your writing did they use without authorisation? And who did they credit it to? Sounds like raw plagiarism to me - and possibly libellous depending how they're representing you. I'd check with a lawyer...

Scotwriter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Scotwriter said...

I was once on the front page of The Sun for x-raying tropical fish in Perth Prison (I find you just can't trust cons to keep anything to themselves) Anyway, I can empathise with The Sun printing stuff that sucks - I just hope that hundreds of hairy arsed warders didn't rip the pish out of you too ;)

phaeton said...

What happened with this in the end Jamie? You'd be spot on getting in touch with the Press Complaints Commission. Although seeing as this is two months after the event you probably already have.