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Home > Media

Journojism: the doomed angels

6 February 2004

'Family Killings Tragedy of Doomed Angels and Baby Sister Who Survived' is how the Scotsman described it, in maybe the worst headline of the week. The 'family killings tragedy' in question was the ghastly killing of all but one of the Hicks family by the father: 'deranged Richard Hicks' (The Sun).

The Sun headline asks: 'HOW COULD HE? Angels killed by dad. Angelic Phoebe and Emma Hicks' etc. etc. The Mail wonders: 'How could any father murder two little girls like these?' - and promises the answer: 'SEE PAGE NINE'. And the Daily Telegraph, always up for a bit of gore, splash a photo of the tragic tots across their front page.

You have to wonder: why are we being shown these images of the not-yet-dead infants? So sweet yet so about to be slaughtered. What is it that makes it front page news? Does the story have any political or social impact?

Not a jot. It is pure porn. An uncomfortable image: the innocent children, in beautiful white baby clothes. A revolting story, with a dark twist (that the father couldn't bring himself to murder his youngest child, so left her alive, wailing in the car, while he jumped to his death from a bridge). The story belongs (if it belongs anywhere) in Readerís Digest - alongside the stories of fluke air crash survival and cancer braveness. Itís not news.

What the papers are doing here is a cheap schoolyard trick: they know something disgusting and are whispering it to us - flicking open the corner of porn mag behind the bikesheds - giving us a glimpse of something hairy and exciting. We hunker down over the pages and lick our lips. We glance up guiltily to make sure no one has spotted us, then itís back down to the strange and delicious naughtiness.

Putting this story on the front page of a newspaper is using the deaths of these infants in as cynical a way as Michael Elphickís Night Porter uses The Elephant Man. Parading him, in all his weird glory, for cash.

Itís a disgrace. The Daily Telegraph, the Sun, the Daily Express, the Daily Mail - should apologise immediately to the Hicks family.


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