Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Ridiculous magic mushroom non-story makes 'news'

As part of the Transform blog's continuing quest for the worst drug journalism ever, I bring you this 'news' item I stumbled across in yesterday's Sun newspaper:

Tesco in 'magic' drug rap

SHOPPERS blasted Tesco last night for slapping stickers with the word “magic” — on MUSHROOMS. Once a legal alternative to LSD, magic mushrooms are now a Class A drug.
Yet the message “magic in pasta” appears on the supermarket giant’s 250g packets of closed cup mushrooms.
Customer Jenny Amphlett, of Stafford, said: “It seems completely frivolous.”Another shopper in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham, said: “This is clearly a joke by someone in the marketing department. It is inappropriate to make light of such a serious subject.”
But a Tesco spokesman insisted: “There’s absolutely no sinister connection here whatsoever. It is simply a handy tip for customers on what dishes suit our vegetables.”
The comments from Jenny Amphlett of Stafford and annonymous of Sutton Coldfield are apparently the sum total of the 'blast' and 'rap'. 'Clearly a joke' , 'completely frivolous'... the comments seem more appropriate to the story generally than Mushroom sticker outrage...perhaps there has been some mistake? Still, it must have been a very slow news day for this piece of barrel-scraping drug war silliness to make the paper.

SCANDAL: Tesco in Sutton Coldfield

I then discovered the same story had been 'reported' in the Metro free paper that laughably reported how the incident had 'sparked' a 'drugs row'. We get to hear more of Jenney from Stafford, apparently at the epicentre of the 'drugs row' :

'I couldn't believe it when I saw it, and it worries me that Tesco is promoting or condoning drug use.
'It could be that someone in the product- marketing team is playing a prank – unless they were really naive enough not to be aware of magic mushrooms.
'Whatever the case, it seems completely inappropriate for a family supermarket like Tesco to associate itself with drugs.'
She added: 'There are so many people trying to overcome drug addictions and there are problems with young people getting into drugs, but here we have a store that is making fun of it.'
some magic mushrooms yesterday (nowhere near Tesco)

I am speechless. The story was then picked up by the Annanova news agency, and, remarkably, appears well on its way to becoming a MAJOR INTERNATIONAL INCIDENT, as this report Pakistan's Daily Times , and this South African news outlet demonstrate. Clearly a slow news day in Pakistan and South Africa too.

On a vaguely similar note, here is another recent 'magic' confusion story from the US


Anonymous said...

As soon as someone in the UK started exploiting the loophole allowing "magic" mushrooms to be sold I knew it would not be long before draconian legislation was imposed. Apparently you are in danger of prosecution if said mushrooms happen to grow in your garden.

Anonymous said...

it worries me that Tesco is promoting or condoning drug use - Jenney from Stafford

Of course they are - they have whole aisles full of tasty alcoholic drinks, for example. But of course, a slight allusion to another drug, no more harmful than that, but without an existing culture of consumption, is morally beyond the pale. Yes, Jenney.

Anonymous said...

I am the Jenny Amphlett referred to in these articles and apologise if the opinions attributed to me (which for the record didn't actually come out of my mouth) have caused any offence. I consented to the initial story in The Staffordshire Newsletter (I work in the same office as the newspaper and had been amused after spotting the mushroom stickers in Tesco). But the story (along with increasingly wild and inaccurate quotes attributed to me) has subsequently been carried in numerous nationals and on national and international websites without my knowledge or consent. It's stopped being funny and has become at best irritating and at worst personally and professionally damaging. To me it clearly illustrates the crazy way that tabloids operate, with 'stories' being passed around rather like a game of Chinese whispers. Once again, I apologise to anyone offended by 'my views'.
Playing any part in this silly news story is something I now regret.

Steve R said...

apologies Jenny. I dont think anyone was offended - the blog was just a comment on how silly non-story like this could become national news. I dont think it reflects on you - more the tabloids that ran it.

Anonymous said...

In that case, sorry for my snarky comment above, Jenny. It must be very annoying indeed to have your views misrepresented like this. I suppose, in jumping in to take an easy dig at what I thought was 'your' view, I've played a part in the process of spreading the inaccuracy. So, again, I'm sorry.

Anonymous said...

Oh that's just priceless. It gives a very rare and beautiful insight into just how deliberately disrespectful and dishonest those toe-rag tabloid "journalists" are. Who even buys these "papers" any more. They're a national embarrassment. Seriously - you'd be better picking random words out of a bag and making sentences with them to get your news.