The mainstream UK media has been largely supportive of the parents of Madeleine McCann, despite much more hostile coverage in Portugal. The News of The World’s story “New Sketch Reveals Face of Kidnapper Suspect” at the weekend was typical and it was taken up by other outlets. This was despite the highly dubious value of the drawing taken from one witness. But go online and public scepticism is passionate, detailed and often unpleasant.
The Mirror has been generally sympathetic to the McCanns and yet a forum hosted on its website is full of conspiracy theories. “The Hunt For Maddy” forum has topic titles such as “I’ve changed my mind I think they killed her” and “A Question The Media Will Not Dare To Ask”.
Is this another confirmation that parts of the Internet have become a paranoics’ playground? Or is it a healthy alternative to the mainstream media pack? Judge for yourself.
We’ll be debating this all with people like Clarence Mitchell and Kelvin MacKensie on January 30th at the London School of Economics. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.