Features

7 signs you’re reading about a dance festival in the Daily Telegraph

As the saying goes, there are a few certainties in life: death, taxes and the Daily Telegraph publishing an eye-rolling story after a festival weekend. As another summer party season approaches, you can look forward to a host of glittering reports from Australia’s least-trusted news outlet (and its illustrious affiliates around the country) popping up unannounced in your Facebook feed.

Despite widespread suspicion about its reporting and biases, the Tele can at least be trusted to hammer home a consistent Dance Music Festivals Gone Mad message. Drug arrests! Police! Dogs! Pumping Beats! Young People Doing Things! Hey, at least they know their audience. If you get lost down an internet rabbit hole this festival season, here a few hints you’ve landed at your favourite local tabloid.


#1 The word “arrest” is in the headline

We all know the most important thing about a festival is the number of attendees arrested, even if the number of attendees arrested is actually just 0.5% of the total attendees? No matter how negligible that number is in the grand scheme of a 30,000-person festival, it’s going in the headline. Next!

#2 Excessive use of pixelated photos lifted from Instagram

As everyone knows from Journalism 101, you shouldn’t write three fragmented single-sentence paragraphs without inserting at least one photo. The Tele doesn’t just employ any old photos, either. The eye candy must be sourced directly from the Instagram accounts of unsuspecting punters; the more scantily or outrageously dressed the better. Vérité scenes of mild seediness work well too.

What really matters is making sure every photo has a jaunty caption (“Rave on” or “Beautiful people” will do) and a disclaimer that the Tele is not implying any of the unsuspecting punters pictured were among those arrested.

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#3 No less than one “drugs are bad” quote from a police representative

Why enter a sane discussion about education and drug law reform when there’s always an intimidating police press release ready to go? Any of the following can be copy and pasted at will: “Our operations ramp up every year, and still some people don’t get the message. May we remind festival attendees that drugs are illegal and made in dirty toilets. There is no safe way to take drugs. You just don’t know what will happen. Our drug dog operation was a success.”

#4 At least two embedded links to drug horror stories

We all know and love the “You May Also Like” section at the tail of online news stories, enticing us with stories of vaginal reconstruction, suburban tragedies and teenage ice addicts. The Tele and friends go one better in their festival reporting, casually lacing through links to further reading on things you should panic about. Why not spend a full day following links and feeling anxious?

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#5 Descriptions that don’t describe the festival’s identity

Do you think of Defqon.1 as defined first and foremost by its commitment to hard dance, a trait that sets it apart from other major festivals in Australia? Wrong! It’s actually a festival “renowned for its its raunchy costumes and near naked dancing”. Turns out you could also be wrong about all the other festivals and lawless “bush raves” out there, but rest assured the Tele has the inside scoop on their true identities.

#6 Distracting typos and/or factual errors

We all know Australian teenagers get up to no good over summer, particularly at famous events like Sydney’s Fuzzy Field Festival on New Year’s Day.

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#7 Scant mention of the music played at the music festival

A good tabloid newspaper knows that when it comes to festival season, people are there to be arrested, not listen to music. If a story really needs to be padded out, mention of the lineup should be limited to one sentence placed in the tumbleweeds at the very end, long after people have clicked away to find out what happened on The Bachelor.