1.Everyone shall possess the right to freely express and publicise his thoughts in words, images or by any other means, as well as the right to inform others, inform himself and be informed without hindrance or discrimination 2.Exercise of the said rights shall not be hindered or limited by any type or form of censorship Constitution of the Portuguese Republic, Article 37.º

Marketing War Tactics: The Guardian buys Madeleine McCann

Newspapers competing for audiences are not dissimilar to kids in a sandpit as they jostle for that top search engine ranking. The seach engine is king these days and online content is often written for SEO bots instead of human eyes. In fact this boring headline is written for Google.

The Telegraph, citing Hitwise data on user “visits” recently heralded themselves as "the UK's most visited newspaper website". The Guardian said they were and used Com Score metric figures of 2.9 million unique users versus the Telegraph.co.uk’s 1.22 million as their proof.

Is it really any surprise that publishers often get themselves in hot water as far as dubious SEO techniques are concerned? In the days of crumbling ABC figures for print, online is king and central to that is a top search ranking. Get that right and the rest will fall into place, right..?

One way to ensure a top ranking is by side-stepping the inbound link-gathering and key word placements by buying your online popularity (via paid search links and pay per click marketing – Ed). The news peddlers have pedigree on this front; the Sun and the Mirror for starters. Put in a Google search for say Cristiano Ronaldo and you’ll get a list of sponsored links down the side from those news sites.

On the other hand The Telegraph Media Group take umbrage at such practises and have said publicly that they “don’t buy event or people specific links”. Due in part, I’m sure, to the Guardian/McCann saga.

Not coincidentally, the complaint about the Guardian’s SEO manipulation came from [Telegraph Media Group assistant editor]Justin Williams the assistant editor at The Telegraph on his CounterValue blog.

The Guardian Media Group’s (GMG) purchase of the “Madeleine McCann” key words from Google caused a barrage of complaints. They were forced to issue a retraction of the link and make a show of reviewing which keywords they used. They said it was a mistake on their part.

What really grates about this one is that the Guardian was one of the chief critics of the blanket coverage of the McCann case and buying the name is the equivalent of selling your family down the river for some extra cash.

Today, if you type “Madeleine McCann” into Google the first media site you get on the unsponsored links, below the Madeleine website, is BBC news. On the sponsored link section it’s The Mirror: an interesting contrast.

Research from Forrester predicts that online media spend will double over the the next five years to a fifth of all spend by 2012. Eighteen per cent of all media budgets will go to email, search, display and other online advertising. So more kerfuffles around dubious search marketing practices are guaranteed.

Source: Chinwag


Guardian bought Madeleine McCann link by mistake, says marketing director
"The Guardian has admitted it mistakenly bought the keywords Madeleine McCann from Google. By wrongly purchasing the keywords a link to the paper's coverage of Madeleine's disappearance appeared in a column of sponsored results when a search for her name was made on Google. The newspaper has now taken down the link and has reviewed the list of keywords it owns, Marc Sands, marketing director for the Guardian, told Journalism.co.uk."

How low will the Guardian sink with search engine marketing?
"The Guardian has bought the key phrase "Madeleine McCann"
Even though it repeatedly denounced the Telegraph’s perfectly legitimate search engine optimisation strategy back in May after telegraph.co.uk had risen to No.1, that distaste for what is not decent journalism doesn’t extend … apparently … to its marketing department...

Telegraph Locks Horns With Guardian Again On Traffic Hike
"The simmering war of words between Telegraph.co.uk and Guardian.co.uk bosses gets more and more like a feisty soap opera, from the sidelines. The two first fell out over Telegraph.co.uk’s 2006 claim to be the UK’s most visited newspaper site, according to Hitwise. When Telegraph.co.uk briefly took the top spot on the more accepted ABCe* metric this year, Guardian.co.uk attributed its rise to it having changed its traffic measurement software. Now the Graun has regained the lead, Telegraph.co.uk is accusing it of using lowly search engine marketing tactics to buy keyword-based ads… "

*Audit Bureau of Circulations Electronic (ABCe).

On The Side: Celebrity Skin
by Joe Hawkin

(...)The former television and radio producer Bob Meyrowitz said back in 2000. "It's interesting because gossip is a well-recognized and well-established form of journalism,

"We'd just like to see it get more respect."

As for the future it is hard to tell which way the news format will evolve. If we concede that the print industry preceded television with celebrity reporting it can now be seen that sales of celebrity magazines and hits on celebrity internet sites are slowing down and in some cases falling.

Whether falling magazine sales will translate into a less celebrity-led television news time alone will tell. In Britain it may just take an event like the (possible eventual) outcome of the Madeleine McCann case to test television's resolve. It began as a hard news story but has evolved into a real conundrum for some television companies and programmes that allowed themselves to be used by the McCanns as they encouraged the media to report their case and had people within the media (in some cases) funding their cause. Here were official suspects using PR to put across their counter defence in the British media. They are using and have been using publicity to put their point across in the same way that Victoria Beckham does when she wants the world to know about "her David".

It was reported by the likes of GMTV and SKY News in a breezy, celebrity way. Now as the messy affair grinds to a halt and the tragic disappearance of a little girl still remains unsolved, maybe certain news channels may look back and consider the way they report news and the content they use. If the unthinkable happens and the parents were in some way involved in their daughter's disappearance then the moment that "Kate and Gerry" became "The McCanns" in the news reports may have just been the moment when broadcasters ought to consider the implications of celebrity and celebrity culture dominating news bulletins.

However with the case being put on hold in Portugal and the McCanns having their arguido status removed they are back to being Kate and Gerry with their ringmaster Clarence Mitchell pulling the strings again. The messy affair continues. The blurred line of celebrity and news is as ever. As Big Brother dominates the pages of the Daily Star and David Beckham edges ever nearer to his 100th cap for England when a blind man can see he's not capable of playing at that level anymore it could be some time before news is reported in the way some of us would deem it acceptable.

Note: As an example of how hypocrite some media editors and directors are I'll leave you with my own personal experience.   My.Telegraph Blog was censored, all posts and comments except one were sent into a status of permanent limbo since May 2008 - they were not deleted nor published - the administration team at my.telegraph never gave me any reason for the censorship of my blog posts - just imagine that all free blog platforms would have censors telling you what NOT to write about?! Where my posts against my.telegraph rules? No. They were translated articles about the McCann Case. See for yourself - the version containing all the blogs posts and the Censored Version

Meanwhile we still want to believe that Great Britain has a free and democratic press.....


  1. "I am calling it the death of news" - this is a comment by former BBC reporter Martin Bell on the media coverage of the Madeleine McCann case, as published by the Mail Online of 16 January 2008. He also expressed his concern over the corporation wasting hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money in their coverage of Madeleine McCann's disappearance.

    Despite Martin Bell's sensible words, seven months on the situation does not appear to have changed much. We don't hear much from Martin Bell either. Has he been silenced too. Has he been told to shut up or else...

  2. Joana,

    As you know from Police Reports & file contents, certain tabloids have continually breached strict rules of publishing - prejudicial misinformation - in Madeleine's case.

    The Guardian is not one of them. Mitchell's favoured 'journalistic outlets' are The Telegraph, Daily Express & (sister) The Sun & The Daily Mail. The People recently published grossly misleading information with regard to Mr Amaral & Duarte Levy. Believe it or not, the article was given precedence over British historic Olympic achievements.

    British Government has wielded unprecedented influence in Madelein's case in Britain & Portugal.

    F.P. Balseriao, former Prime Minister of Portugal is a press tycoon; member of the Board of Directors of the Daily Mail.

    Gordon Brown was informed of Mr Amaral's unjustifiable discharge 2 hours before he was notified.
    Gerry is a medical advisor to the Government.

    The media coverage of Madeleine's case has met with fierce criticism by prominent people in Britain, America and elsewhere. British tabloids are 'banned' from publishing facts; those who do, including Mr Amaral & Duarte Levy are viciously attacked and defamed via the media. Mitchell was seconded by Government to 'manage' the PR campaign.

    The Government has demonstrated blatant contempt for the police, law and justice in Madeleine's death - conclusions reached by the police (and public) - overwhelming evidence.

    Mitchell wields power; his media campaign, designed to pervert the course of justice at taxpayers' expense (Portuguese as well as British) is based solely on misinformation - brainwashing the public.

    The courage lacking in British journalism is not the case in other democratic countries. Books are being written as a result of Mitchell's control of media, websites and forums.

    Government's strong influences

  3. anonymous,

    I totally agree. Alastair Campbell also spoke out, as did a presenter on BBC's The One Show - he also disappeared.

    I recently found interesting news on the BBC website regarding the Jersey Case which didn't make the press. A Liberal MP has raised certain issues in Parliament and demanded a full enquiry. I returned to the articles next day - hey presto - wiped, whoosh, clunk.

    It's not so much the 'death of news'; it confirms the level of Government intervention perverting the law and justice in Madeleine's case. The media is the chosen weapon.

    Labour has used and abused public trust, masters of their own inevitable downfall. Out of touch with reality and public opinion. The fools are only fooling themselves.

    I'm sure the media will return to normal democratic function after the next election.

    I've long been convinced that Madeleine's case will go down in history. To the best of my knowledge, no other British Government has perverted the course of justice where overwhelming evidence of a child's death was found by British expertize.

  4. Forum 'articles' have reached the realms of 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' scriptwriters !!

  5. It seems 'blackout orders' on British journalists publishing so much as one sentence of Mr Amaral's book, PJ's Report and/or Police files has reached Portugal.

    Shortly after Mitchell's menacing phone call to Editor of Correio da Manha, Mr Amaral's promised weekly column has not materialized. The last two articles were too ludicrous to be true. Was the edited 'baited' in line with Duarte Levy ?

    Only logical conclusion - the Editor was handed totally false details for publication then attacked for complying - possible on legal grounds. It's Mitchell's vile style; he threatened McCanns would sue PJ after 'truth' began to emerge last July.

  6. John,

    You're well informed ... if you were a father who'd accidentally killed a child, concealed the body, wasted 15 months of police time, given false information, framing others, refused to answer a long list of questions, what length of sentence could expect to serve ? Plus obtaining over £1.3 under false pretences, fraud.

  7. Joana:estive a ler O que os T3 deixam ler mo seu "my T....."

    Assustam-se com as verdades.Assustam-se com Pessoas Honestas e verdadeiros Profissionais.
    O mais espantoso é que se assustaram com FASCISMO.Assustaram-se com eles próprios.

    They have fear about the trues;about honest and professional People and Journalists.
    They show to us how they are afraid with the fascisme that they show him selves.

    Cidadão Kane (um belíssimo filme)

    Em portinglês a ver se eles entendem.

    E,SEMPRE,BRAVO Joana !



    Tenho de tentar ler os textos todos,visto que está em bom inglês e o meu "bom portinglês" demora.


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