THE BLOG

Undiscovered Capital Cities...Oh Wait

14/04/2014 13:23 BST | Updated 14/06/2014 10:59 BST

The Independent has really changed in the last few years, most notably the online version which has become less news and more Buzzfeed.

If you went to The Independent website (14.04.14), the first headline you would have immediately seen read, 'Beat the crowd: The hidden holiday gems that will be this summer's top 10 destinations'. Where does one even start with how wrong that is? It's the first article and photograph on the website's homepage - leading one to surmise that these 'hidden' destinations probably aren't hidden at all - and that's before you've discovered that it's actually referring to some of the world's capital or major cities.

The phrase, 'holiday gems' makes my stomach turn as well - gems? This isn't the 90s, I thought we were done with this terrible term.

So, naturally, you click on this, fairly sure that it will disappoint but nevertheless curious and hopeful for some hitherto unknown information - basically the same feeling you get from all The Independent's articles now.

The photograph on the main article is of Biarritz - Europe's home of tourist and pro surfing thanks to nearby breaks and being a leg on the ASP World Tour every year. I've been to Biarritz several times and I don't particularly want to repeat the experience - in the summer, it's a warmer version of Cornwall's Newquay. It is so far from being 'untouched' it may as well be Paris.

Number 1 on the list apparently compiled by TravelSupermarket is Rovinj, an Adriatic city in Croatia labelled by Wikipedia as a 'popular tourist resort' while Lonely Planet says, 'it can get overrun with tourists in the summer' - probably not all that untouched either then. The neat Independent classic slideshow goes on to list Warsaw, Copenhagen and Reykjavik. Yes, I can see why you'd call those cities 'untouched'...oh wait.

What the article's author, Adam Withnall, seems to have got confused about here, is that this isn't a list of 'untouched' places or hidden 'gems' (ugh) - it's merely a list of places that have increased in internet searches recently. The TravelSupermarket source even states that these are places that have been searched for more over the last year than they have been previously - that is all. TravelSupermarket did a normal, sensible thing; they looked at what people wanted so they could offer advice and holiday deals for those destinations. The Indy absurdly re-branded this as a list of 'undiscovered gems'.

Now, there has been much talk recently of the 24-hour obsession with news/media/everything that some people believe is bad, and some people, notably Jon Snow in his wonderful article here, think is good. To have the choice of all this news and information is a stunning thing - yes it can be overwhelming, yes it can be exhausting and sickening sometimes but it is there, to pick and choose to do with as we like. What's sad though, is when newspapers become so divorced from actual news and instead, with the need for new content continuously, become filled with pretend news. Like the aforementioned Independent piece.

This list of the supposed top 10 travel destinations for 2014 isn't news and it's not even informative - it's just a list of places manipulated to fill a space, to fill the author's quota for articles that week. It's not a real list of undiscovered places (a self-defeating purpose anyway), it's just a lie with pretty pictures.

It's naive to think that much of what you read is particularly truthful, unbiased, based on legitimacy or even marginally informative but The Independent definitely used to be a place you could go to for actual news, well thought-out opinions and a sense of pride in reporting. This is no longer the case. Currently, I'm half-expecting London's Natural History Museum to be on their list of top 10 undiscovered museums. Bet you didn't know they had a dinosaur....