Dear Daily Telegraph…

It’s important that we speak.

When my sister was four she made my Mum buy some tissues with Bananas in Pyjamas on the box. My sister expected to open the box and find the same brightly coloured printing on the tissues themselves. When she didn’t, she was aghast. Mum’s response was to help her write a kind letter to the tissue company, politely asking for an explanation. She wanted to instil in her girls the idea that peaceful action could promote positive outcomes.

The tissue company replied very sweetly a few days later, and attached their letter to a complimentary box of tissues. My sister was so happy with the reply that she forgot all about the fact that she wasn’t blowing her nose on B1 and B2 themselves. Instead it seemed perfectly logical to her that the importance of cost-effective production methods outweighed the ethical ramifications of disappointing small children.

The point of that little anecdote was to let you know that this letter will be a great deal more scathing than my sister’s letter seventeen years ago, I will not sit around expecting a kind response from you, nor do I want any complimentary copies of your disgraceful excuse for a newspaper.

Australians appear time and time again to acknowledge your drawbacks as a news source, yet forgive you when you titillate them once again. I was hoping this would be the final nail in the coffin but I won’t hold my breath. Instead, I have few bones to pick regarding your abominable excuse for journalism.

1. How dare you use the hashtag #illridewithyou. 

Let me get this straight; you don’t hesitate to run a rushed out ‘2pm special-edition’ with a double page spread all ablaze with the ‘Islamic State attack on the CBD’. While the NSW Police Force are handling the precarious situation with the utmost responsibility, not to mention risking their lives by trying to ensure the safety of the people involved, you do the most irresponsible thing possible – you run a manipulative, calculating, blatantly untrue story designed to breed hatred.

Then, you try and absolve yourself of all responsibility by jumping on the #illridewithyou bandwagon, with the hope that in a couple of days everybody will want to ride with you. This all happens while you look for ways to ignore the fact that movements like this come to exist partly because of your alarmist lies.

You have acted abhorrently

2. Of course, I’m not apportioning all the blame to you…

You’ll notice I said partly. That’s because I was pretty appalled by a whole host of media outlets reporting on the Sydney Siege. Channel 10, for example, published an alleged list of demands by the perpetrator after being explicitly asked not to do so. That was pretty appalling.

And some blame, of course, has to lie with the people who rushed out to buy your ‘2pm special-edition’, relieved that they could stop sounding out the words on the ABC website.

I’m not blind. I see persuasive reporting everywhere. I see sensationalism and I was taught to deconstruct the way words were put together. You guys, though, you went above and beyond anything and everything any other media outlet could have come up with yesterday. Actually – correction – you went below, you went all the way down to the slimy depths of the underworld of false reporting, and then you rolled around gleefully like utter sociopaths.

I’m willing to bet money that the next thug who abuses a Muslim woman on the train for wearing a hijab read your spread and decided to take up the great Australian cause. I’m willing to bet that the next fair dinkum Aussie, who feels hard done by because the Iranian refugee on the cleaning nightshift could hold down a job while he couldn’t, absorbed your wonderfully informative article and felt like he had a group of top mates.

But that’s okay guys, because even though you issued no retraction or apology, you spun up a story using #illridewithyou. Everything is forgiven. After all, compassion is your strong suit.

3. Speaking of a retraction and apology…

Any plans for that? No? Instead you’ve got Rupie Murdoch taking to Twitter to ‘congratulate’ you for being first on the ‘bloody’ scene. Three people are dead; two of those people were innocent. Their lives have been extinguished. I know this is the guy that classifies Egyptians as ‘white’, but really, ‘congrats’ was pretty much the most repugnant thing I saw all day.

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4. ISIS would like to send you a hundred autographed flags, speaking of congratulations…

Congratulations! You’ve successfully broken the record for most ISIS high-fives given out for a single unrelated incident. That’s right, they high-fived when you put their name on the front page of your paper, they high-fived again when you reposted their sickening ‘laughing’ video and they high-fived because they didn’t want this crazy nutter in their group anyway. He lacked a specific agenda, he didn’t hesitate to abandon his ‘Islamic’ ideology when he saw a more opportune moment to sexually assault a bunch of people, and up until a few weeks ago, he despised ISIS’ interpretation of ‘Islam’.

All this high-fiving but no one’s hands are getting sore. Why? Because ISIS didn’t have to lift one murderous finger to carry out the act themselves – you did it all for them. That’s the real congratulations here.

5. It’s not your first time…

Not even your second. You’re seasoned professionals. That’s right, your upstanding team of editors have a track record for being utterly foul. And I’m not even talking about your blatant political bias day after day and twice on Sundays. I’m talking about your consistent and unrelenting vilification of minorities in Australia; I’m talking about your xenophobic rhetoric and your obsession with societal fear mongering. I’m talking about that time you photoshopped Mike Carlton’s face in traditional Arab attire on to the face of a Boston bombing victim. Was that funny to you?

Sure, this letter is just another angry letter, and you’re a big corporation. Sure, it’ll probably end up in the ‘angry mail we received over that ISIS thing that wasn’t even ISIS, oops’ pile. Sure, you can do no wrong in some people’s eyes and they’ll ignore this because it makes them feel oddly uncomfortable. The reason I’m writing this letter is to let you know that this isn’t going to fly forever – that even though you’re hoping I’ll just spontaneously combust out of pure revulsion for you, I won’t.

Not yet anyway – because I want to be there when your rotten excuse for a newspaper falls magnificently from grace, and trust me, it will.

Kind Regards,

Caitlin Caldwell.