A Good Home, British Newspapers, Journalism, Meghan Markle, Online Trolls, Prince Harry

Good on you, Online Readers

I dislike online trolls — people who write nasty, toxic comments.   And when Britain’s tabloid newspapers publish stories about Prince Harry’s relationship with his bi-racial, American girlfriend Meghan Markle, the trolls emerge from their dark places in droves.

Blog Photo - MMarkle image3

But something surprising — and encouraging — happened this week. A majority of Daily Mail readers took on the trolls and told the DM it had gone too far this time.

EXCLUSIVE: Meghan Markle’s stony-faced mother is spotted trekking to the Super Suds with her laundry as Suits actress rounds off her romantic African getaway with Prince Harry

Doria Ragland was dressed down (as anyone doing their laundry would), and we could clearly see the comforters, etc. she brought.  To some readers, this just proved that Meghan Markle was too low-class for Harry. This one is actually mild by comparison:

MyOpinionOnly, London, United Kingdom

The establishment surely cannot agree to Harry marrying her !

But this time – thank goodness — most readers were outraged at the newspaper and the trolls. Here are a few of the many reactions before the story was abruptly deleted:

Lily, York, United Kingdom

Why has this been published? This is a gross intrusion into someone’s private life. DM should be investigated and brought to account for this. It is clearly intended to attract abusive comments. DM should be reported to IPSO and should face legal action.

Summer07, Oakville, Canada

Agreed this is a despicable intrusion into this woman’s life and a terrible attempt at shaming and bullying a human being for living a normal life.

BatGirl, Bat Cave, United Kingdom

Maybe her own washing machine didn’t fit large amounts of bedding, perfectly understandable. What’s the big deal? That doesn’t make Meghan a bad daughter or this poor, harassed lady, a poor mum. We know what you’re trying to do here DM and this article only goes to show you up for the bullies you are.

DontKnowenough, Essex, United Kingdom

I don’t want to see Meghan’s mother put through hell if Meghan and Harry decide to team up for life — and don’t do it in my name. Well done, Meghan’s mum, clearly a worker – something to be proud of.

Mally, Kingston, Canada

I suppose you’ll do anything for a paycheque…. gutter press!

Frankieessex, Essex, United Kingdom

I really don’t get all the hate against Meghan and her relatives. So her mother goes to the laundrette! How is that a crime or even news? So Prince Harry is dating outside his race. So?? Love knows no boundaries- genuine love that is. I for one am pleased that Harry has chosen to follow his heart. All you haters must not ever have experienced true love to be so focussed on her race/class/colour instead of being happy for two young people apparently in love. Whatever happened to live and let live?

Rubyjas, Bridlington East Yorkshire

OMG, woman who is not related by marriage (or anything else) to the Royal family takes own clothes to the laundry…….. I am speechless.

Pn, Melbourne

Leave the woman alone.

Kati 1, London, United Kingdom

So what? Kate’s mother grew up in a council flat. We seem to have very short memories in this country. Leave this poor woman alone. At least we know Meghan will keep Harry’s sheets clean!!!

M. Erlin, Dorset coast, United Kingdom

Seems to me like this woman could teach our privileged monarchy at thing or two….. GOOD ON HER!!

NJZLeigh, London, United Kingdom

Could be that she is doing voluntary work. If it is her own stuff might be that her washing machine cannot take such big loads of bedding. Why is it degrading to do your washing at a laundromat? Good on her she appears to be a hard working normal person that goes about her life in a normal way. Harry has found a great gal, beautiful, intelligent who obviously makes him very happy who just happens to have a normal mother!

Hunterman212, London, United Kingdom

How degrading of the DM to publicise this! Her washing machine may have broken down or she might be washing her duvets in the large capacity machines. So cruel to shame her in this way!

~~

Well, it appears that the responsible voices won this time. I couldn’t find any record of this story on the DM website one day later, though it’s been picked up elsewhere.

A Good Home, Journalism

Change The Things You Can

 

Timmy Fletcher was five years old. He lived with his family in a small town in Ontario.

He was bright. Charming too, in that confident way of young children who are loved by those around them. He zipped around in his wheelchair, beaming.

Timmy had one big wish: to go to school, like the other kids.

A new law allowed children with disabilities to attend their local schools. But the school and Timmy’s teacher didn’t think they could handle a paraplegic child.

I empathized with the teacher’s concerns.  But the law was the law. And so I went to the school and kept asking: Why won’t you let Timmy into school?  

I was one of two journalists who wouldn’t let up.

When the school finally changed course and Timmy went to school, my cameraman and I were there.

Timmy was back on the news that evening, a big smile on his face.

~~

Journalism came alive for me when I realized the power of “Why?”

“Why” and “why not” are powerful questions, especially when posed on the local evening news. Traffic lights get installed at a busy intersection; care improves in a senior citizens’ home; regulations are changed or followed.

Asking “why” can actually change lives.

~~

One of my last stories as a TV news reporter was about the lack of female firefighters in Toronto and most of Canada.

Asking “why” led me to two women at City Hall – Mary Bruce and Pat Henderson. They ran the Equity office.

They would love to see a woman firefighter, they said. What’s more, the fire chief did too. But all candidates failed the physical test.

Hmmm… I thought. 

“With weight training, could a woman ever become strong enough to be a firefighter?” I asked the woman who ran my weight-training gym.

“Don’t see why not,” she replied.

“Is there an applicant who has come close?” I asked Mary and Pat. “Could you ask the chief?”

Before I knew it, the three of us were having lunch with Diane Oland, a smart woman who had repeatedly aced the written firefighting test. Diane was physically strong, but not strong enough.

~~

“I know a woman,” I told my weight trainer. “She wants to be a firefighter. Could you train her?”

“I’ll do better,” she replied quickly. “My husband runs our other gym nearby and he used to be a firefighter in London.  I’ll call him.”

My trainer’s husband felt he could get Diane ready to retake the test within 6 months or less — if she really wanted it. She did.

“We’ll all support you,” pledged Pat, Mary and I. 

So she did, he did and we did.

The day Diane aced the test, I wasn’t just a journalist. I was undoubtedly one of her supporters.

~~

I always tried to keep my own emotions out of my stories. But “why” and “why not” are dangerous questions. Sometimes, after asking them, your sense of justice gets seriously triggered and before you know it, you’re invested in the outcome.  

~~

Someone called my TV news station.  A cameraman and I rushed to the scene.

The landlady showed us the disheveled room.  “I kept screaming that they had the wrong man! They got the wrong room. They wouldn’t listen to me!”

Ronald Jackson.

It’s been three decades, and I ‘ve never forgotten him. 

This was a case where “Why” and “Why not” were simply not enough.  

~~

That afternoon, Ronald had lain on his bed in the rooming house where he lived, reading his Bible. Ronald Jackson was a practicing Christian.

A group of strange men burst in and attacked him.

Ronald did what any reasonable person would do: protest; fight back; try to save himself.

But by the time the plainclothes policemen stopped attacking Ronald, he had been badly beaten.

Meanwhile, the guy the police were really after made a swift escape.

~~

Ronald Jackson did not get an apology. He got arrested instead. We later saw Ronald ourselves – his white undershirt stained with blood, his skin bruised. He looked dazed. 

A lawyer who saw my report on the evening news offered to represent Ronald, and he got his day in court. Or should have.

Just before the court date, Ronald’s lawyer told me, police officers in Toronto shipped Ronald off to Montreal, supposedly because of an old traffic ticket. He was in jail when his case came up.  

I had lost touch with this case, and only learned the above when I finally called the lawyer to ask how it had all turned out. He bluntly added: “He’s not the same man you met. He’s gone crazy.”

I could have wept.

(Ronald Jackson is not his real name.)