Wednesday, 2 June 2010


Now, I'm all for that old trick of taking a national story, finding something or someone similar in a region and using it in a rag. No problem, it's saved many a splash for me and remains an oft under-rated skill in a news room (making it interesting is the key, from that particular area).

However, rather predictably, as with so many other things in the regional newspaper world, the revelation that is the 'online sphere' (I'm convinced it is called something like that is senior meetings, that or 'internet realm', 'digital hemisphere' or 'that computer thing').

The FIFA World Cup TM (seriously, have you read the guidelines for using that title? Fuckin ridiculous) is once again upon us.

But this time, it is not only a shelf full of St George's flag-emblazoned inflatable chairs in Tesco we have to put up with, but blanket coverage, well, everywhere.

Including 'our' regional news sites.

Don't get me wrong, as mentioned above, if there is the slightest opportunity to use the FIFA World Cup TM in a rag, by all means do it, capitalise on the interest, and the knock-on effect online.

However, the prime target for simply exploiting it for no reason this week is, once again, our faithful friend Northcliffe.

Each and every one of their 'thisis network' (that's what they call it, another hangover from a management meeting I dare say) now has a 'World Cup 2010' (how do those bastards avoid putting the TM and FIFA prefix in?!) link in the main navigation.

Why? complete with link...

I could understand if these channels featured reams on a player from your side who is going, even a former player who is now in the international setup.

Filling it up with hundreds of localised stories; residents sharing the name Wayne Rooney, a pub refusing to show the football, or a woman cycling to South Africa to charity, would also be absolutely fine and a legitimate use of such a channel and perhaps even generating some interest from readers.

But, sigh, this is not what's happened.

The channels are full of PA copy, fed straight in from the dark dungeons of Victoria (or possibly even South Africa, I'm not sure what the PA budget is these days), with headlines mirroring every single national and major regional newspaper IN THE WORLD.

So what, I ask, is the fuckin' point of this? Please, I long for someone to let me know that there is some major, and I mean major, sponsorship deal that is allowing regional papers taking this shit to employ a handful of new reporters, or subs (I'm not asking too much am I?), but I fear this is not the case.

And besides, I'm not even sure those overseeing the sites would know how to drop the localised, possibly interesting stories, into this channel even if they had the instructions tattooed on their foreheads, but that's another issue.

Still, so long as they avoid having to write FIFA World Cup TM every five pissing seconds, it's money well spent.

Nevertheless, despite total FIFA World Cup TM wipeout, I will return to post some interesting things which you may chuckle at, shortly...

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