Media Lies and Slurs Can Echo For Years
Residents of Liverpool remember the victims of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster today showing a united city which refuses to be shook even by Tabloid lies.
Today marks the 22nd anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster, which took the lives of 96 football fans during their FA Cup final match against Nottingham Forrest in Sheffield. Whilst the deaths themselves where horrific, what remains with most Scousers after the tragedy is the way that the city’s people were villainised in controversial tabloid The Sun.
The aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster was played out in a historical media framework, which already depicted Scousers as rebellious anarchists. Leading the way in the media reporting was The Sun who sensationally reported that Scousers were witnessed stealing from the dead bodies, urinating on cops and committing acts of violence against those who were trying to help – all of which were untrue and dealt an even bigger blow to a city which was already in mourning.
What resulted after the paper ran with the story was what has become one of the biggest boycotts of any newspaper in the UK to date, with thousands of Liverpudlians rushing to the shops and burning the paper in the streets and vowing never to sell or buy The Sun again – even to this day many shops in Liverpool refuse to sell it.
But it wasn’t just The Sun which was guilty of despicable and underhand reporting, Yorkshire and Manchester papers also providing comment. One of the hardest lines for me as a Scouser to take even reading the stories ten years after the tragedy, was this, which appeared in our very own Liverpool Daily Post: “Scouse killed Scouse for no better reason than 22 men were kicking a ball” bringing the tragedy of Liverpool fans down to its basest, cruel and one sided reflection.
Whilst the people of Liverpool complained to the Press Council about these damning headlines and their wrongful presentation, the regulatory body failed to force any form of punishment on The Sun and a simple apology appeared in the paper days later – not merely enough to reverse the hatred Scousers already felt for the paper.
The reaction of the media almost certainly had an impact on the general public’s reaction to the tragedy and it can be suggested that it informed and tainted the outcome of several legal battles surrounding Hillsborough. It certainly brings to light the ethicality of media reporting, especially with the latest phone tapping scandal to rock the News of The World.
Today though, the people of Liverpool will mourn the lives lost in a special Anfield memorial headed by Kenny Dalgliesh and writer Jimmy McGovern and we will always remember YNWA.