Anorak News | Madeleine McCann: Brand McCann, Selling The Commodity And The Media Feeding Frenzy

Madeleine McCann: Brand McCann, Selling The Commodity And The Media Feeding Frenzy

by | 10th, March 2009

MADDIE WATCH – Anorak’s at-a-glance guide to press coverage of Madeleine McCann, Kate McCann and Gerry McCann

BBC: “Madeleine ‘treated as commodity’”

“COPS: MADDIE IS STILL ALIVE,” says the front page of the People. But they don’t know. Not for sure. To put this headline on the front page is bad reporting, offering false hope. It smacks of opportunism, using Madeleine to sell newspapers –Anorak, May 13, 2007

Madeleine McCann was treated as a “commodity” by the UK press, her father Gerry has told MPs.

And the politicans liked her too.

Gordon Brown’s eyes “filled with tears” (Sun) as he held the hand of Madeline McCann’s aunt Philomena.

Hurrah! Booo!

Senior non-singing Tory John Redwood says on his blog that the McCann’s have fallen victim to the “modern disease of fighting battles through the media instead of people getting on and doing their jobs diligently.” Redwood is an MP, not a journalist.

Redwood then removes his comment. Hurrah!

And online media was interested in Brand McCann:

“SICK web hijackers cash in on Madeleine,” says the Mail’s front-page headline. “The desperate search for Madeleine McCann has been hijacked by conmen cashing in on her family’s heartache,” says the paper. People have started up websites about Our Maddie, and they’re taking advertising. How dare the new media pass itself off as the caring old media?

The BBC is live! from Praia da Luz! A Crimewatch special!

Some reports about the missing girl had been “embellished” or even made up, the culture, media and sport select committee was told.

Grandstanding is so wrong?

The BBC is telling viewers about Robert Murat.

…as a BBC headline put it, in a Lloyd-George-knew-my-father moment, ‘Pope meets Madeleine’s parents’.”

Back to today:

Papers had, without evidence, published stories suggesting Madeleine was dead, which could have stopped people looking for her, Mr McCann said.

THE Guardian: “Madeleine McCann’s father Gerry calls for tighter press regulation”

Gerry McCann calls the reporting on his daughter the most “irresponsible and damaging” in press history.


Introducing Clarence Mitchell.

The Sun’s poster was a “big hit“.

Here’s Gerry McCann before the MPs – yellow ribbons on:

Gerry McCann, talking to the Commons culture, media and sport committee looking into press standards, said that despite an initial desire in some elements of the press to help find Madeleine, her disappearance quickly became a means to sell newspapers. He added that ficticious stories were detrimental to the search for Madeleine.

But wasn’t keeping Our Maddy in the public eye the thrust of their media campaign? Job done, surely? If the viewers want to play armchair detective, can they be stopped? Would the press want them to stop?

Make Our Maddie History:

The sympathy a reader or viewer was bound to feel for the McCanns was overwhelmed in an exploitative swarm. Star footballers were signed up, as were Hell’s Angels, MPs wearing yellow ribbons and ministers meeting deputations. It was as if a missing child were this year’s Make Poverty History campaign.

Did you buy a wristband?

No stone unturned:

Gerry McCann tells us: “Meeting the Pope is so potentially hugely important to what we are trying to achieve as a family. We never thought for one moment we would get such publicity, but it means we can get our message across.”

A meeting arranged by a tabloid newspaper.

“Our family has been the focus of some of the most sensational, untruthful, irresponsible and damaging reporting in the history of the press,” McCann told the committee.

“If it were not for the love of our family and friends and the love of the general public this disgraceful conduct, particularly in the tragic circumstances we found ourselves in, may have resulted in the complete destruction of our family.”

And a new story.

So Kate and Gerry McCann, parents of missing toddler Madeleine, how do you feel?”


“There has to be some degree of control, I believe, or deterrent to publising untrue and particularly damaging stories where they have the potential to ruin people’s lives.”

Such as libel laws.

Asked by the committee why he and his family only took action against a single newspaper group, McCann said that Express Newspapers were the biggest offenders by some distance but they could have easily sued more publishers. “That was not what we were interested in, we were interested in putting a stop to it first and foremost,” McCann said.


There is something faintly but unmistakably sick in this prolonged churning of public sentiment and public fascination.


The McCanns launched a libel action against Express Newspapers for more than 100 articles that appeared in its newspapers.

…the media:

The Sun says Gerry McCann is to appear at the Edinburgh TV Festival. No, not because he’s given us hours of great telly. Although he is taking the slot once occupied by Simon Cowell and Michael Barrymore. Gerry will be “quizzed” by Newsnight presenter Kirsty Walk on the media campaign to find Madeleine McCann.

The Independent: “McCann attacks media ‘storm’ over Madeleine”. Gerry McCann:

“To be thrust from being on holiday one minute into the middle of an international media storm, and how to cope with that, was very, very difficult.”

She wasn’t there.

He said the media were much more interested in writing about him and his wife – what he called the “Kate and Gerry show” – than about the search for Madeleine.

Watching the parents.

We were voyeurs at their grief. Still are. It’s mourn porn.

“Her face is frozen with grief and fear. She smells her Madeleine’s favourite cuddly toy. And never out of her grasp is a mobile phone which she wills to ring. The wait never ends.” So said the Mirror’s Sue Carroll on the Mirror’s front page.


They exploit the interest of readers in a way that can only chime with their own worst fears and insecurities, and augment their own distress or panic.

The thrill of fear.


Did you see them with the Pope – “a British public spectacle, an emtional national experience”?

Spread the fear:

Tony Parsons in the Mirror. He has lost sight of his child:

“My wife and my daughter were in the school changing room packing up the tutu after ballet. I was waiting right outside, kicking around a ball with the kid brother of one of my daughter’s friends. Eventually my wife came out alone. ‘Where is she?’ my wife asked. ‘Isn’t she with you?’ I said. And that’s how it happens.”

The McCanns sued and won:

“Our primary motive was we felt these were damaging the search. If people felt Madeleine was dead or we were involved in her disappearance, then people would not come forward. That was our absolute primary objective in taking that action.” “Mosley and McCann speak out”

The spanker and the dad.

And missing children:

Maddie is, of course, what the Sun has renamed Madeleine McCann. And today the paper has shots of other missing children.

Twenty-eight faces look out from the page. All are minors. All are missing. The Sun tells us that in the 22 days since the four-year-old went missing an estimated 1,100 other children under 16 have “vanished from homes in Britain”.

This is “International Missing Children’s Day”. And the Sun wants us to look at the faces of the missing teenagers and see if we know them?

So we look. And we read the potted stories beneath each picture. We study their measurements. And we realise that most are aged 16 and if they don’t want to be found then they won’t be.

And, in any case, in real life people change. It’s only their “last pictures” that remain the same…

Madeleine McCann is the girl in the picture who never grows old.

Posted: 10th, March 2009 | In: Key Posts, Madeleine McCann, Reviews Comments (33) | TrackBack | Permalink