Saturday, 4 October 2008

Wrestling with the Truth

Everyone has a secret TV guilty pleasure - one of my old a housemates, a top business consultant in the city, couldn't miss an episode of Corrie. My late Grandad, who in public would lambast any programme other than the news as rubbish, was an avid fan of Brookside (sorry Grandpa!) and my other half has just too many to mention (no jokes about her bad taste in other areas please!)

Mine has to be... WWE wrestling!

Yes I know its all fake and staged - not really fitting given the blog title - but once you get into it and suspend your disbelief, it really is dramatic and athletic... ok, ok I can't defend it. Its straight up light entertainment at its worst!

Anyway I was watching an episode of Smackdown! the other day when the character 'JBL' came on moaning about the fact that the US government was going to bail out some of the banks and said that his wife was going to be giving evidence to congress on the matter.

Interested as to whether this was true or just part of wrestling kayfabe i looked him up on wikipedia - low and behold not only is it true, but JBL - a wrestler that pretends to hit people for a living - is a regular panalist on Fox news!

I guess shows the sort of 'fair and balanced' views they are interested in touting!

Friday, 3 October 2008

Joe Kinnear's rant at the journo's

Just seen this transcript of a Joe Kinnear press conference over at Football 365 - it gives a great insight into the world of football reporting (albeit a slightly weird one).

The first few pars are the most shocking/funny but the obvious Truth Revenge angle doesn't come in until about halfway through with the NUFC press officer pleading for all the tapes to be wiped!

Press officer: Let's get on to football. Let's have an agreement that everything said so far, if anyone has got their tapes on, it's wiped off and we're not discussing it.

Journalist: But that's what Joe has said he thinks of us.

Press officer I'm saying don't push it. Let's accept what's been said and try and move on.

Journalist: Move on to not doing any more press conferences?

Thanks to 365 for ignoring them and letting us see it in all its glory.

The Mirror also has a full recording - its interspersed with stupid mirror overlays so no-one can record it and claim it for themselves - but fortunately retains all the swearing.

Monday, 1 September 2008

getting a bit political...

Just posted a huge comment on a this New Statesman article, which I caught over at Andy Dickinson (see 'What I'm trying to find time to read , below left) and thought after all that work I should probably blog it too! not strictly media based although I do touch on over commercialism which I believe the mainstream media has a lot to do with.

antileft: "Question: If we were all paid approximately the same amount, why would anyone work more than the bare minimum? I do hope that the answer doesnt involve gulags (the realistic answer), or "loving your fellow man" (the hippie fantasist answer)."

Truths Revenge:The answer is because you take pride in what you do. the problem with this is that there are now far too many jobs that it is nigh impossible to take pride in.

In days gone by you were the best at what you did because it meant you reaped the highest rewards ie - You were the best farmer because that meant you had the most grain at the end of the year.

The problem is there is little joy to be taken from being the best fitter of wingnuts to factory assembled garden furniture or the best filler of jam jars with jam (as i have been in the past) and therefore there needs to be some other motivation for undertaking such employment.

This manifests itself in the form of hard cash allowing you to better enjoy the time you're not at work.

In my opinion the problem we have now is the over commercialisation of society means the importance of economic gain is so overriding. it occurs at the expense of all else.

The bettering of society should be the aim of all political systems. I think that the Left (communism/ socialism) admirably holds this goal in high esteem, but lacks the mechanism with which to achieve it.

An individual following the Right (libertarianism / capitalism) is unconcerned with this aim, but it is really the only way to get the very most out of people.

A combination of the two is therefore needed and a balance somewhere around that of the UK and other western EU countries seems to work as well as can be expected, but the pendulum is always swinging....

Thursday, 21 August 2008

X-factor, truth's enemy

I'm sure it will have escaped your notice (because TR readers have better things to do with their lives), but the new series of X-Factor has hurled its obese lazy carcass on to our screens again.

The current series is at the stage still deemed acceptable by those who should know better - the bit where we all laugh at the 'rejects'.

'Hmm,' I hear you ponder, 'why put 'quotes' around the word reject? surely they are rejects plain and simple no need to put '' around it?'

The thing is, they aren't the show's real rejects. they have got further than thousands of others, who will have been turned away, not by Simon Cowell or Sheryl Cole, but by some unknown member of the ITV production team.

This is not shocking, its fairly obvious when you look at the sheer numbers involved, but it is a long way from the consciousness of most viewers.

It would seem (and this is backed up by a friend of a friend who tried out for the show) that you get put into three categories: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The Good

This is fairly obvious, those who are apparently talented.

The Bad

Not that good at singing in a boring way.

The Ugly

These are the idiots that are so bad they are funny, I have little doubt that most of these are fully aware of how stupid they look but are so desperate to get on TV they exaggerate their foolishness, to guarantee 5 mins in front of Cowell and the camera's .

Obviously only the good and the the ugly get anywhere near the celebrity judges.

This in its self is not what make it so terrible. It's the awful cut aways of judges reactions and their staged 'fallouts'. The even more staged bits in the lobbys

But Charlie Brooker, who I do not always agree with, puts it brilliantly here, far better than I could:

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

When not to use video?

A change made to this story on the BBC today started me thinking after I linked to it twice at different times.

The earlier edition - at around lunch time had a video at the top showing the cute girl miming, later - around 5pm this had changed and was replaced by a picture (it has since been changed again with two pics side side by side and the video lower down the page).

What are the possible reasons behind this?

Do they have to pay to use the footage? No, the corporation paid up front for some kind of package.

The only thing I can think of is, because the BBC were the sole British broadcasters of the ceremony (and the whole Olympics as this left of centre media love-in demonstrates), they have put alot into the promotion, idents and so on, and they dont want to take the shine off one of the main aspects too much.

They couldn't pull the whole story, as that would be a bit 'China', so to speak.

But they didn't, or someone there didn't, want to make too big a thing of it. It's something that everyone is talking about - everyone is impressed so maybe its a good idea not to worry about it too much.

Anyway, Just a (conspiracy?) theory.

Would like to hear your's...

Also be interesting to hear if you know of any technical/asthetic/journalistic reasons for taking video off a story generally?

  • As I write this the story is on BBC Newsnight - which may pour some water on my theory, but was it on the main news?

It still doesnt't answer the question why take the video off the site in the first place?

Fit me into your schedule?

Two great articles in the NY times over the opening weekend of the Olympics.

The first, from Brian Stelter's TV Decoder blog, explains why NBC's attempt to time shift the Olympic opening ceremony for US citizens worked to a certain degree, but pissed a lot of people off.

Only a few people were able to watch any of the amazing (if a little candied (I hearby trademark the use of the term candied - meaning to lie and/or fake parts of an already impressive story or event to make everything seem a little more exciting/perfect.)) events unfold live via a small number of live streams.

It couldn't be called a failure though, as an average of 34.2 million Americans waited until they were home from work and plonked themselves in front of the TV for the 4 hour ceremony.

As Stelter points out many preferred to see it all in full HD glory than on a pokey 240 pixel wide window.

The second story from David Carr refers to Stelter's post but he points out that in the TiVo (Sky+ in the uk - or should that be generic digital hard drive recording facility?!) and internet age, it's the audience that chooses the schedule not the broadcasters.

He links it with a problem faced by many web editors attached to traditional newspapers - the holding of news from the web to retain value at the newspaper. But as he points out:

'If the future of our business is online, then why set up a firewall, delaying the best content to protect a legacy product?'
He also puts forward an interesting theory on the future of print news.

'The horizon line for when a newspaper on the street is serving as a kind of brochure of a rich online product does not seem far off.'

Does anyone have anymore on this concept - I can see it working in London with all the commuters getting tit-bits of news on the Tube before checking out the full stories when they get in to work.


Sorry for the lack of recent posts, my new job sees me sat in front of a CMS for most of the day and is far too similair to blogging to do that the rest of the time!

On the plus side my blogging skills (or should that be skillz) will soon start to see a marked improvement!

I feel I can also blame the silly season being in full swing for my lack of post action, the 'stories' are so inane at the minute they're are not even worth my wrath!

Thank god for China and Russia!

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Coren nation

Just in case you hadn't seen this elsewhere, everyone should see this little insight into the relationship between writers and sub-editors.

Highlights include:

'...worst of all. Dumbest, deafest, shittest of all, you have removed the unstressed 'a' so that the stress that should have fallen on "nosh" is lost, and my piece ends on an unstressed syllable.'

'...I have written 350 restaurant reviews for The Times and i (sic) have never ended on an unstressed syllable. F***. f***, f***, f***.'

I can assure you it's not usually as fractious as this - because most writers aren't as precious as Coren - and as this response from the Sunday Times subs points out, their job is often thankless and involves ploughing through error strewn copy.

I'm sure my new role as content producer (starting on Friday), which requires me to be the last line of defence before copy hits the readers, will put me firmly on the side of the subs!

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Shanking out

It's another silly season shanking special!

This time the Sun has taken a stab at Facebook application Superpoke! (their ! not mine).

The developers, Slide, had allowed FB users to 'shank' each other along with all the other actions such as Smack, suckerpunch, kiss, hug etc.

According to the Sun the Shank action was aimed at 'the kids who carry knives' because shank is a 'street-term'.

So praise must be heaped on the Murdoch rag because it contacted Slide who removed it, fortunately not because of any threats from the Sun, but because the 'Shank' action went against the 'fun and often silly' ethos of Superpoke!

But is this removal not against the interest of free speech? I can no longer 'shank' my friends because the Sun has decided this virtual action is 'sick'.

Funny then that on Friday they seemed to be such free speech advocates.

Unofficial Facebook blog,, has a take and full Slide response.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Wrong type of story

Where would the Daily Express be without weather stories? if it wasn't for the vagaries of the British climate the Express would have to put Princess Di on the front page every day instead of every other.

No surprise then to see this story slating the Highways Agency for blaming motorway delays on the 'wrong type of rain'.

Only it wasn't the 'wrong type' of rain, it was unusually intense rain, which most people agree was a fairly serious problem last summer.

But why look at things rationally when you can make a public body look stupid with a quippy headline?

I'm fully in favour of holding these agencies, bodies and quangos to account wherever possible, but if you don't do it properly you are just making it harder for those that want to.

There are many things you can blame the Highways Agency for but the weather isn't one of them.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Like a hot knife

The hottest topic for every tabloid during this year's silly season (apart of course from Lembit Opik's love life) seems to be the worthy topic of knife crime.

But how much good are they actually doing?

The News of the World ran a piece on the topic today, which annoyed me for various reasons; Firstly its based on an online poll of 16-24 year olds, yet its written as if its the answer to knife crime. I doubt, somehow, these lot managed to come up with too many revelations on their break from Facebook.

Secondly in an interview with a former knife carrier (run alongside the piece, but not included in the online story), he says that longer jail terms would not act as a deterrent and that jail is were where you 'go in a petty (criminal) and come out a don,' adding that you 'make all the contacts you need' for criminal enterprise.
Despite this the main story tells us that what's needed is longer sentences, as does the NotW's Save our Streets campaign.

Now I'm not surprised to see right wing posturing on prison sentences in the red tops, but why run the interview just to ignore its findings?

Thirdly and on a wider note, whenever asked 'why do you carry a knife?' the response is invariably for protection from other knife wielders.

Is it any wonder youths look to arm themselves when they go out to face the world they have read and heard about from the media? Basically all the hype about knife crime is a self fulfilling prophecy.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Can you trust the media professors?

I've just finished Adrian Monck's 'Can you trust the media?'. I picked it up on the recommendations of the BBC's college of journalism editor, Kevin Marsh, who says that 'Anyone interested in British journalism should read it'.

It does makes a good read, with some excellent examples, both historic and contemporary, of the issues affecting journalism and story verity in particular. From ownership to audience, lazy and/or egotistical journalists and of course commercialism all come under his microscope.

On the negative side Monck (not to be confused the almost eponymous autistic TV detective) writes as if he is talking to his students at City University rather than other journalists.

In fairness he has undoubtedly added it to the reading list for his course, so its only fair they are catered for.

Having been through a Journalism degree and subsequent NCTJ courses it did grate a little being taken back there. My girlfriend who works for the dark side (media sales) is reading it now and I think she should find it more enlightening.

Apparently a chap called Rupert Murdoch owns a fair few media interests and some bloke called Alistiar Campbell didn't always tell the whole truth about New Labour.

This along with the references to his own blog (complete with the URL - a favour not extended to some of the others he mentions) did make me question the £7.79 I had forked out for it.

But it was only briefly and he more than redeemed himself with the interesting chapters towards the end on religion and the beginnings of the print media.

But should anyone with an interest in British journalism read it? perhaps, but mainly if you are striving for that 2:1.