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.