"Has Britain gone to the dogs?" - The Daily Express certainly hopes their readers think so

 by Martin Belam, 21 February 2007
"Has Britain gone to the dogs?"

I ask the question because there are a variety of ways that the British press and news services online try and entice their users into debate.

The Mirror's redesign has added links to 'Digg this' and 'del.icio.us' on some of their stories, but their blog content is where they seem to restrict their user comments to. The Sun, meanwhile, has buttons underneath headlines asking readers to "Add comment" or "Join Discussion".


The new Times site might have bizarre CSS, but it does offer comments on stories, inviting readers with a "Have Your Say", triggered at the bottom of stories with a little bit of DHTML goodness.


"Have Your Say" (or "Don't Have Your Say" as it is called by people who believe the BBC censors user comment to push its own political agenda) is also the way the BBC invites people to discuss news stories. They usually set the debate up with an opening brief of "Such-and-such happened in the news. Do you think it is because of x? Or did you ever experience y?"


The Daily Mail has gone big with user-generated comment, flagging the number of comments up under the headline, and inviting people to contribute with a "34 people have commented on this story so far. Tell us what you think below" prompt at the bottom of most stories.


The Guardian and The Telegraph have also invested in their blogs and user-generated comments, to the extent that when they haven't been bitching about what constitutes a blog, they've been bitching about their respective traffic levels.

And then there is The Daily Express.

It may not say it on the actual page, but the HTML title tag of their online presence still proclaims:

"Daily Express: The World's Greatest Newspaper"

They have a singular style of call to action for their readers to comment online.

Take a story about NHS dentists - "What do YOU think? Is NHS dentistry a joke? Comment NOW at Have Your Say".

Or a story about house prices rising - "What do YOU think? Does stamp duty need to be reformed to help first-time buyers? Comment NOW at Have Your Say."

So seeing as how they like to link the call to action with their editorial line, my favourite from last week was the call to action that went with a story about how out of all of the hundreds of thousands of road signs in the whole of the UK, one local council had erected 8 road-work diversion signs in Polish:

"What do YOU think? Has Britain gone to the dogs?"
Daily Express outrage against immigranta


Clearly nobody's told these Poles that the way to get their message across is to speak Polish more slowly and much more loudly.

And perhaps adding the word 'THE' in front of any nouns.

Well, it must be said that a ploy not entirely dissimilar to that is working perfectly for me in Austria at the moment.

I'm delighted that someone has documented the point where the Express went beyond parody. I'm glad I wasn't the only person who noticed it!

Where has Britain gone? Pride in our country? Not sure what I am supposed to be proud of anymore?

My apologies to Richard above, but by mistake I erased about a week's worth of comments from the blog database, including this one, and Google hadn't cached it yet.

The rest of Richard's point was that 50 years of mass immigration had changed Britain beyond recognition, and that most of the immigrants seemed to want to recreate their old country inside Britain. Which rather defeated the point of moving to the UK, since they had supposedly come to live in a better place. He said he didn't blame the immigrants themselves, but blamed successive short-sighted governments willing to use the cheap labour, and to caring about the long-term consequences for schools and the health service.

work all your life and have to sell your home if you fall ill in old age. If the BASTARDS dont get you that way death tax robs your family of a start in life. Thi country is FUCKED CRAP AND A RIP OFF. I hate it so much now i wont even support English football. It all about MONEY MONEY MONEY and that means YOUR MONEY, FUCK ENGLAND This message is for all the people who live hand to mouth who cant afford to rent or buy property and the poor hard working people who have lost there lifetime of money working hard to lose it to the FUCKING TREASUREY Screammmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Terry - just move away from the South East, chap. Take a load off, eh?

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