Thursday, 22 July 2010

Press Release of the Week That WILL Feature in The Daily Mail & Daily Express

I know 'Press Release of the Week That WILL Feature in The Daily Mail & Daily Express' is not a feature of this blog, but I had to create one in honour of this release.

It's pure genius...

Here is the unedited copy (so the PR firm should send me at least a tenner):

Manchester United and the Cardiff Devils Ice Hockey Team face a boycott by Muslim fans because the devil emblems included in their club insignia could be outlawed in Islam.

Already religious leaders in Malaysia have forbidden Muslims to wear Manchester United shirts because the red devil emblem is forbidden in Islam.

The Johor Religious Council adviser and the Mufti of Perak have told fans that images of crosses, liquor brands and devils on football shirts are insulting to Allah.

This could spread to Britain which is home to 2.5 million Muslims.

Secret Millionaire star Paul Ragan and new owner of the Cardiff Devils denies there is any problem.

“We have a predominant ‘devil’ in our logo but the last thing in anyone’s mind was to cause any religious offence. No one has ever complained about our club name or our badge,” he said.

Cardiff has by far the largest Muslim population (4%) in Wales. In the Principality overall Muslims account for less than 1 per cent of the population (22,000 people).

Manchester United have devoted considerable effort in building a fan base for their merchandise in Malaysia. They toured there last summer and have a five-year sponsorship deal with communications group Telekom Malaysia.

“There is no excuse for wearing such garments because it means, as a Muslim, you are idolising the symbol of another religion,“ said Datuk Nooh Gadot, the Mufti of Johor.

The badges on Barcelona, Brazil, Portugal and Northern Ireland strips all feature crosses.

Who wants odds on it being in at least one national and the topic of conversation on EVERY talk-based radio phone-in in the next 24 hours?

bets to the usual address... Cash in advance you understand.

Monday, 19 July 2010


Have you ever heard the term 'hyperlocal'?

If you work in a newsroom and you ever pay any attention to anyone who wears a suit that cost more than your monthly salary, then you probably have.

It's the future, we're told, and involves providing news to communities that they will find relevant and interesting.

Well I never, whatever was it we were doing before?

Anyway, 'hyperlocal' is certainly the buzz term of the minute, so we are all being gently prodded, with a big stick made of redundancy, towards coming up with ways to achieve the ultimate in 'hyperlocal' coverage.

Just as research really, I looked up the term 'hyper' and derivations thereof in a bid to deduce exactly what it is these people may be after.

Needless to say, the results were disappointing:

hype n intensive or exaggerated publicity or sales promotion.

hyper adj Informal overactive or overexcited.

hyper- prefix over, above, excessively, e.g. hyperactive.

Still, first one to come up with exactly what it means wins a media industry...

Friday, 16 July 2010

A big tip of the hat to radio, for a change...

Radio is really not my thing, in terms of journalism.

I love to have a radio on, constantly, don't get me wrong, it's just not the type of broadcast I've really been involved in to any great extent.

However, I felt moved to post this transcript of an excellent, in my opinion it should be award-winning, interview by TalkSPORT presenter Ian Collins.

Collins was the first journalist to get hold of Siobhan O'Dowd, the woman behind the Raoul Moat tribute page on facebook which caused such a stir this week.

It was followed up by every national paper, every TV news bulletin, and the TalkSPORT presenter deserves every bit of praise he receives because, quite frankly, it is an excellent piece of work.

You can listen to it here

But the transcript is below. Enjoy...

IC: We've been talking about the facebook page that has been created. It's 'RIP Raoul Moat, you legend', facebook page.

We were hoping to talk to Siobhan, one of the people that started the page, but we have found Siobhan.

Siobhan, good evening.

SO'D: Hiya

IC: We got you in the end.

SO'D: You did. I must have had no signal as my phone's been on all day.

IC: You weren't hiding from us then?

SO'D: No, I've got nothing to hide for.

IC: Well you did start a pretty unsavoury Facebook page didn't you?

SO'D: Yeah but that's my opinion. Everyone's entitled to their own opinion.

IC: Raoul Moat you're a legend?

SO'D: Yep.

IC: Why's he a legend?

SO'D: Well I just think he is. Legends usually get talked about don't they and he's getting talked about so in my eyes he's a legend.

IC: Yeah, but what's he done to make him a legend? Usually, people who are a legend have done something that would make people think, 'oh, this guy, he's so good for this reason or that reason that he's a legend'.

You know, Robin Hood, because he robbed from the rich to the poor...

SO'D: No. You lot all think he's a bad person because of what you've read in the papers right... But you, no, every day...

IC: No, I think he's a bad person because he's killed one, nearly killed another and blinded a policeman.

SO'D: Yeah, I don't agree with that. I don't agree with the shootings that he did, that were harsh like, but I can't understand his girlfriend me.

If someone was so scared of someone... Personally, if it were me, if my boyfriend were in jail, or ex boyfriend, and I were that scared of him, I'd pack up me stuff and I'd leave. I would not write a letter and say 'oh and by the way, I'm shaggin' a copper'.

You just don't do it when you know full well what he's like about the police anyway.

IC: Couple of points on that Siobhan. Firstly, we don't know any of that happened, we're just hearing that as speculation so... Secondly, even if she did, maybe, should this woman have to uproot her life because of that? And maybe she thought 'if I tell him I'm now going out with a policeman, he will leave me alone, I'll be protected? Maybe that was the reason.

SO'D: Well maybe it were but it obviously didn't work did it?

IC: Well, you're very casual about the fact that a woman's had her stomach blown out, one man is dead and another fella is blinded.

I mean your interpretation of that is, well, 'she wrote a letter to the prison winding him up'. I mean, that's an incredible reaction for the severity of what's happened Siobhan.

SO'D: Well fair enough but I'm just sayin'. If someone were that scared they would not write a letter to their boyfriend. Even if he were just like a normal person and he didn't have nowt going wrong with him in his head and that...

IC: You're following this like you're following Eastenders. You're filling in the blanks when you don't know. You don't know anything about which letters were written...

SO'D: But you don't know. You you only know what you read int' paper...

IC: No, what I know is that the guy has shot three people; one dead, two very seriously injured, one certainly with life-changing injuries and blinded for life. I mean it doesn't get much worse than that and then you start a facebook page by calling him a legend?

Now, a legend has to have done something to call him a legend.

What, specifically, has this guy done that makes you think he's worthy of hero status?

SO'D: He kept on hide, from police for a week. That were funny. He were right underneath their nose, he were right underneath 'em and they still couldn't find him.

At the end of the day...

IC: If you can't find someone, you can't find someone...

SO'D: All police are bothered about are tiny little petty crimes. They're quick enough to go and follow them out...

IC: They mobilised a police force to try and look for him. If you're hiding, you can't find someone, that's not a fault of the police Siobhan.

SO'D: Yeah, but when it were on't news that, allegedly, he got in the village right, which I can't understand if you know them police there, why didn't one of them spot him?

IC: The fact that one of them didn't is your answer isn't it? They didn't.

SO'D: Well they must not have had their eyes open then...

SO'D: Why is that a good thing? Why is that funny?

They're chasing a multiple murderer. Why is that funny?

What is within your head Siobhan, I'm just interested here, that makes you think, in life, of all the things that are funny, that that is funny? Steve Coogan's funny, that is not...

SO'D: I think he's a legend for keepin' 'em on their toes for a week.

IC: So you think it's good that he did that? That we had a terrified village, kids being kept in a classroom because they were too scared, millions of pounds worth of taxpayer's money being used in mobilising helicopters, and you find that funny?

SO'D: Well I think it's funny how he is, yeah, I do. I do think he's a bit of a legend like that yeah.

IC: And shooting a copper in the face, is that funny?

SO'D: No, clearly not, that's not funny is it? I'm not laughing about that, I'm not saying that were funny.

IC: Have you got a criminal record?

SO'D: No I 'ant.

IC: Never been arrested?

SO'D: Well yeah, I have been arrested, but I haven't got a criminal record.

IC: What did you get arrested for Siobhan?

SO'D: Er, something petty, criminal damage it were.

IC: Oh right, okay.

SO'D: You ever been arrested?

IC: No, not yet.

SO'D: Well you're a good boy then aren't ya?

IC: Not after this phone call. I might be arrested, who knows?

SO'D: Oh well (unintelligible).

IC: Just out of interest then. When you look at the kind of words that have been said on your website: "RIP Raoul, I blame your ex, little whore." Is that acceptable?

SO'D: Well everyone's allowed to their own opinion innit?

IC: Okay, alright, "if my missus ever does to me what she did to Raoul, I hope I'm brave enough to do what he did". Is that alright?

SO'D: Well everyone's entitled to their own opinion.

IC: Yeah, but I mean... You have essentially got a facebook page here where people are discussing potential murder. And then another guy...

SO'D: I didn't think all these people would join it did I?

IC: Well no, I wouldn't imagine you did think that for one second. I can't imagine you thinking that far ahead...

SO'D: It's not just me that thinks the same.

IC: No, there are other stupid people around as well, you're correct.

"Raoul Moat had the guts to stand up to the oppression forced upon us by ego-driven police force. He's a true hero. He has the respect of far more people in this country than any cop ever will do". What do you say to that?

SO'D: I think he's right.

IC: You think he's right. And this man will remain a hero to you?

SO'D: Yep, definitely.

IC: On the basis of..?

SO'D: It's about time someone give police something to do.

IC: Right. And you think that's the best way to look at it; to go round, shoot up a few people and get the police on their toes?

SO'D: Yeah, well, not shoot people obviously but I think it's, well, that's what they get paid for don't they, trying to catch criminals? So at least they got the wage, at least the wage they deserved. And they caught a criminal.

IC: Not sure that's the best way to look at an operation that was that expensive, that frightened the life out of several, several hundreds or thousands of people in that neck of the woods, including small kids who were kept in school for long periods of time...

All of that because this mad man was out on the loose with a gun, telling people 'the cops are gonna get it next, the public might get it next', and you see that man as a hero?

SO'D: Well, anyway, police killed him anyway. So they'll be happy...

IC: No, the police didn't kill him. The police didn't do it.

SO'D: Well this is what they say they did; they tasered him and he shot himself. But it's a bit funny innit, right, they asked all the cameras...

IC: A bit funny that he had a gun next to his head?

SO'D: ...that they asked all the cameras to move, ten foot away from where he were. That's so they couldn't catch nowt on camera, couldn't hear nowt.

They shot him because he shot one of theirs, that's how it is.

IC: No no no no. What are you, Columbo all of a sudden? You've decided this have you, you've worked it all out?

SO'D: Yep.

IC: What are you, CSI or something?

How have you done this then? Did you go down there with forensics?

SO'D: Yep.

IC: Have you got kids Siobhan?

SO'D: Yeah I have thanks.

IC: You have to be joking me?

SO'D: No, I'm not.

IC: So you would bring your kids up, into the world, telling them that this guy was a legend?

SO'D: Er, well, I wouldn't say he were a legend for shooting people but yeah, I'd say he were a legend for keeping police on their toes, like I've told you about five times.

IC: You would tell your children that?

SO'D: Yeah

IC: Okay.

Alright Siobhan, thank you very much for coming on and joining us.

I can only say to the nation; is that the stupidest woman you've ever heard on this radio show?

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Some funnies ahead of Friday!

Well, as we all know, a Thursday is basically a Friday in newsrooms up and down the country due to the classic 'final day wind-down'.

So in anticipation of the start of the drinking, here are a couple of funnies. I'll try and get back tomorrow for something for the weekend, as it were...

First up is the delightful Press Gazette (the magazine that is officially not as good as it used to be, like Viz), which must have been having a slow day on this occasion...

Yep, that is the homepage.

And just to round off this quick-fire bulletin, the new BBC News website had something of a glitch on only the second day post-launch.

The new layout shows off images really well, unfortunately...

Needless to say, this was rectified later.
Tally ho!

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

New BBC News site vs Telegraph Online

Well well, here it is at last.

After countless public information blogs and even some pre-launch screenshots, the new BBC News website confronted users this morning as they browsed for their morning fill of news alongside their Weetabix.

And what do we think? Well, I was surrounded by an array of reactions, from "cack" to many, much warmer-sounding "ooooh"s and even one "why have they done this to me?"...

For me, I don't mind it at all. It seems to be pretty reactionary (and what, in the world of news website design isn't?), which is more of a good thing when it comes to BBC sites in the UK, as they don't have to factor in advertising - the number 1 complaint of any web user when asked.

So it's clean and reasonably appealing, which in fairness, the BBC site has always been.

The first thing that gleans any kind of derision from this viewer is the sheer size of the main headline, in this case 'UK employment declines to 2.47m'*.

And it feels, even though comparing new to old is not the case, like there are fewer stories on the front.

This is because of the top story - two sub-stories - list of others approach being centre-stage.

Previously, the list of other stories was segregated, to the right-hand side of the page.

Now, it is right there in front of me, and a lack of images makes me feel like it is an after-thought. But that is just me. If a list of stories is to be a focal point, give it something to appeal to the reader.

I also don't like 'Also in the news' being so prominent (did you see what I did there, did you?). Again, this, to me, means a section full of stupid stories that no one knew what to do with, and I perceive them to not really belong in the news, but instead in some God-awful 'Funny news' or 'Weird news' section.

I wish the BBC would lose a touch of superiority complex and call it what it is; the 'Stuff that isn't really news but you might laugh at and send to your mates boosting our numbers and justifying why we put this crap up', but I understand that may contain a few too many characters.

Another thing I find slightly patronising, and a classic reaction to reports of clicks and reader response, is the sheer size of the 'Most Popular' panel. Does it really need to be so large?

I realise click reports will show this to be THE panel on the homepage - although again, the Beeb retains an intellectual standpoint by putting the doubtless under-used 'Features & Analysis' panel above it - but honestly, if we are struggling to see it, we'll have our eyes tested.

The mid-page barrier, a customizable insert for weather and news from various regional and local BBC sites, is actually quite nice, also retaining some of the 'elsewhere' links from the old site.
Below here though, is where it starts to lose the plot for me.

The homepage descends into some sort of half-impression of the Daily Mail site - see here for what I mean - with overblown story summaries (yet none on the main headlines? A compromise would have been nice) in a bid to gain Google hits, and just simple over-population of this area.

It smacks of the developer saying "well, this is where you've lost most visitors, as our research shows most readers will scroll for 1.7534 turns of the little wheel thing on their mouse, so we thought we might as well cram as many keywords as possible into this section".

For me, it looks silly and too slap-dash.

And it also looks like the Telegraph, as the entire site does, far too much.

And the Telegraph constantly freezes my browser, so let's hope this isn't the case with the new BBC News site...

Overall though, there isn't a drastic change here, just a few minor alterations in a bid to catch up to other news sites in terms of volume of content and keywords.

BBC News has long been a reliable and technically-sound site - let's hope it stays that way.

* For the record, a font this big, with the SEO headline is just annoying to me. Get over the SEO thing people, or wait three months, then someone will come up a tag that hides the bit Google searches from us poor readers who have to look at it.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

When SEO goes mad - update!

Further to my rant the other day regarding the Daily Mail's homepage becoming comparable to some sort of Google bot site, I noticed these jobs being advertised...

While the salary for an SEO Content Executive (whatever the hell that is) is somewhat disappointing for a business that clearly rates it so highly, the SEO manager is clearly the big wig at the Mail!

I do like the description though and the fact that they have SEO and Analytics teams. Can you imagine their meetings?

"So, what have you done this week?"

"We've managed to get the name Jordan and/or Princess Diana into every headline at least three times boss."

"Excellent, now back to it. Those headlines aren't going to repeat themselves. Hang on, yes they are. Anyway, keep it up."


Monday, 12 July 2010

Raoul Moat reaction...

The case of Raoul Moat is definitely tragic. Sad, even. But for whom?

While we all deliberate on the actions of police, the media, even Gazza during the saga, let's not forget what started the whole sorry episode - Raoul Moat himself.

Just look at the facts, if letters from the man himself are to be believed.

He shot his ex-girlfriend after hearing her slagging him off (do remember that he was squatting under her living room window with a gun when he heard her). He then shot her new boyfriend, before shooting a completely innocent policeman, twice.

Not only that. Again, if his own words are to be believed, he "declared war" on Northumbria Police and as the saga unfolded (as we understand it) also threatened members of the public.

Ironically, details of his threats against the public were only revealed after an agreed media blackout by the very outlets Moat was attempting to use as justification for his actions - just as the media had not reported police beliefs that he held hostages.

I am not a police expert, so will leave any comment on the force's actions to the IPCC, save to say that quite frankly, if these events did not warrant the biggest manhunt ever seen, then what the hell does?

The media however, is a completely different matter.

In her excellent comment piece for the Guardian, Barbara Ellen talks about our fascination with such cases, following events on the rolling news channels, online, and in newspapers.

While not entirely sure about her pseudo-psychiatric ramblings about the male psyche, her points about our own bizarre desire to almost 'live' the events, our fascination by them, are enlightening.

She wrote: "I first realised that something felt different when a message alert came up on the television saying that police had Moat surrounded. When did it become routine to put out trailers for real-life tragedies? It worked, though. Did you, like me, turn over to find that footage was scarce, the time filled by Rothbury locals gathered outside a pub? Certain media people even commented on the bizarre "carnival atmosphere", which was a bit rude.

"This was their patch – the people of Rothbury were entitled to gather for a beer and a chat. Which wasn't true for the rest of us, including me, idly gawping, as if I'd stumbled upon an old Inspector Morse. What was I waiting for – a bit of drama in my feeble little life?"

And we, journalists, do indeed follow these things in a detached way, as if it is not really happening.

Dare I say we even enjoy it, thrive on the drama and long for the most dramatic outcome possible?

I think we do. But does that lead to inaccurate and insensitive reporting and an almost insane desire to see, hear and read anything, no matter how speculative?

Some certainly think so.

Raoul Moat's brother, Angus, declared himself to Sky News as "probably the only person in the UK who has watched their brother die on television, which is obviously horrific".

He added: "It's all hotting up, you've got this constant round-the-clock news, it's like the whipping up to what could be a public execution in modern Britain of my little brother."

Does he have a point? I think he probably does.

But does that mean we (the media) have to change? I am unconvinced.

Yes, Angus Moat was angry, that is only to be expected, and of course he is looking for reasons for what happened and perhaps throwing accusations around in some sort of denial of what his brother did.

Yet the irony remains that he made these points, these accusations, to the very media outlets he is condemning. Perhaps that is the only way. But that rule also applies to police forces tracking someone down. Someone who claims to have already killed and is reported to have pledged to kill more.

We can't have it both ways. Either we have a news media capable of delivering a blanket message or we don't. We can't then attempt to hand-pick that message, or the manner in which it is delivered, within the bounds of the law, due to some sort of over-arching sense of 'bad taste'.
If these news organisations thrive by providing the coverage they do, it is for one reason only; the public absorbs every little bit of it.

And the public, in one way or another, also presents its own view via mass media. As I write there are countless groups set up on facebook paying tribute to Raoul Moat, as if he has assumed some sort of cult-like status as a wronged man, driven by his own heartbreak and low self esteem, which may well have been the case of course.

As Angus Moat told Sky: "You know this is my brother who's not a psycho killer like some of the press have been suggesting."

So, should these types of outpourings also be banned? Surely, if the portrayal of Moat as a "psycho killer" are wrong and produce some sort of negative backlash for the wanted man, then the same could be said of those wishing to portray him as a "...a person, he's a brother, he's a son, he's a father. He's a man who's had a nervous breakdown", as Angus went on to describe his brother?

Again, we can't have it both ways. The very freedom that allows Angus and Raoul's friends to have their say is the very same that allows his mother to claim he would be "better off dead" and the media to show events completely live, as they happen.

There are other families to consider of course, the family of murdered Chris Brown, of injured Sam Stobbart and PC David Rathband.

If we are to consider Moat and his family when presenting information, we should also consider them. And to present him as someone who has simply suffered a breakdown would, to me, appear equally insensitive when that is replayed in front of a family coming to terms with the loss of someone who is also a person and a son, for what they feel is no good reason.

The police, obviously, have made no response. That will come in the form of the IPCC report on the investigation and actions taken.

But perhaps most tragically, responses can also not come from Raoul Moat. Or Chris Brown.

Who is this case sad for? All of us. And none of us should seek to blame anyone else in an attempt to avoid asking ourselves why.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

When searchable headlines go mad...

The plight of the sub editor is an oft-heard tale; there aren't enough of them, template pages are killing the art, etc etc.

And while sharing their pain to an extent, it's something that has never really hit home, not being a sub.

But gradually, over the years of growth of news on the interweb, I have come to relate to their issues.

Google. Google. Google. That is all we seem to here now from web gurus across the news globe. Your stories must be 'Googleised', or 'Googleified', or whatever the term is that they shout in my ear and which just doesn't seem to register, having not read 'What iPCmacbookpad?' this month.

Yet this morning, two things on the Daily Mail website caught my eye and summised my growing affection for those bods who sit and correct our stories day in, day out, for little recognition (let's be honest, the amount of changes they make to some copy, they deserve a byline).

Firstly, the Daily Mail site was among the first to cotton on to the benefits of being found by Google, i.e. appearing first in any search gives you the overwhelming majority of clicks from searchers.

So it adapted the way it wrote headlines for stories appearing online, which is fair enough.

However, with other news outlets catching up fast, the Mail has continued to grow its efforts, and quite frankly, the site is becoming one gigantic Google hub.

Repeated links are EVERYWHERE - see a grab below, which shows only a small section of the front page.

I realise it's not very clear, but basically, the Daily Mail homepage seems to have become a page containing hundreds of stories, with hundreds of links to those stories, everywhere!

Apparently, this will score massively with Google, but at what cost?

I do wonder whether anyone reading this site is with me when I say that I get quite frustrated with the same stories appearing everywhere when I'm looking for something else to read?

I've read the top story, so why link to it another four times on the homepage, in prominent positions? It baffles me.

But that is not the only 'Googleisation' tool that concerns me. The tailored headlines are now so ridiculous they take up half the page!

That headline, to me, is just too damn long.

Yes, I can see that includes loads of things people might be searching for; I can understand (despite the protestations of our web chap that it is dreadfully complicated) that people probably do search for 'Kylie concerts' and 'cocktails' a lot - and probably together a surprising amount too.

But was it really worth it for a four-deck headline that just looks a bit silly? I'm probably living in the dark ages (probably?) but for me, it wasn't.

I'm in no way averse to the joys of having a really popular website, but I do still hold a strong amount of pride in the presentation of a story, regardless of whether it is on a piece of paper or a monitor.

So I do share the pain of a sub when I see headlines like this. Where has the skill gone?

Yet as if the web people at the Mail were aware of my growing sadness, they provided me with something to laugh at...

Lovely. Thank you.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

The World Cup of punditry

Now I'm no football fan - obviously as I'm a Wolves fan, before anyone feels the urge to crack that joke - but having a flatmate who is a fanatic, I haven't been able to avoid the World Cup.

But, far more interesting than the football for me, as a forced observer, has been the performance of the rival pundits on the BBC and ITV.

The BBC scored a cracker with the amusing Clarence Seedorf - a Dutch footballer apparently - whose feature on that ball that bends around corners in particular was hilarious, and actually quite enlightening.

And seemingly in direct competition was the ITV's own Dutch signing, Edgar Davids, who was really not as interesting, let alone funny! Bless him, but he didn't seem to cotton on to the age-old pundit banter and hilarity...

And don't get me started on Gareth Southgate, although I have warmed to him, probably because I was the only bloke in the world who laughed at the Pizza Hut ad he did after missing a penalty.

But leading the way of course are the two frontmen.

Gary Lineker, who is starting to get very irritating with the way he raises his eyes when cracking a sarcastic little funny, compared to Adrian Chiles, who seemingly can't stop saying "why do we do this to ourselves?" when talking about any match (and I presume the bumper ITV contract would be the primary reason Adrian)...

Also disappointing, particularly last night (a semi-final between Holland and someone in blue which weirdly saw Mr Davids absent from the ITV panel, when you would presume this was THE game to have him on?), was the lack of a commentary pundit.

I love these guys; the bloke who has to sit next to the actual commentator, usually an ex-pro, and give us a bit of professional insight into what has happened.

I only saw the first half, so perhaps this was rectified later, but from what I heard, the ITV commentator was alone (I don't know who he was, but he did an admirable job in the face of adversity), probably freezing on a gantry, the wind gusting around his ears, wishing to have Mick McCarthy or someone alongside him to share in the thrill of the game, although it was really boring.

Sad really, I always enjoy comparing the professional commentator to the ageing footballer, who always seems to disagree with his gantry comrade.

Still, with ad revenues being what they are on commercial television, I suppose it would be no great surprise if Gary Gillespie turned up in South Africa (who knows, he may even commentate via satellite from London, or Liverpool, or Milton Keynes) only to find a P45 in his rented bedsit.

Shame, because we could do with a pundit during the game rather than Adrian 'I-look-like-I'm-sad-even-when-I'm-happy' Chiles, God love him.

But perhaps that's just me. Football fans are a strange bunch, so may well have loved every minute.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

LIVE! or, quite frankly, dead?

We all love a breaking news story; that rush of adrenalin when you get a big call, the joy when someone shouts that they have secured an interview with the main player (especially if you're that reporter), the satisfaction at seeing a million-page spread the next day that was created in under four hours. Oh, it's what it's all about.

And in digital realm, or digital sphere, (I love those corporate phrases so much I'm going to continue to use them) the breaking news possibilities are endless; live blogs, reader pics and comments from the scene, videos as they happen... Oh, it's better than sex really.

Imagine though, having to provoke that kind of enthusiasm for something not quite so exciting as a murder, or a hostage situation, or transfer deadline day (for the sport lovers out there)..?

Imagine instead, having to provide a constantly-updated, enthralling live blog of... The Tour de France. Or the World Cup (when noone is playing for more than seven hours), or county cricket (no explanation needed surely?).

Yep, I would imagine due to some impressive viewing figures for early live blogs, such as the BBC's excellent test match efforts from the likes of Tom Fordyce and Ben Dirs (see, I don't just slag off dear old Aunty) and the election coverage from the Guardian, the suits in charge of the digital sphere have now decided that this is the way forward.

Cue live coverage, on this random day, being provided at various news sites of the Tour de France, the World Cup, and county cricket.

By God, do we really need live coverage from county cricket grounds up and down the country, which we all know amounts to a bloke sitting in front of Ceefax waiting for a score to change?

In a world where we are constantly told, and are constantly moaning, that staff levels are lower than ever, is this really an effective use of resources?

If it is, I want to see those figures. How many people, really, sit and wait for the Guardian to update Durham's score from the County Ground? Although the question should really be, who - who is interested in such rapid-fire updates - doesn't have the desire to find Ceefax for themselves and get the updates more quickly?

It's ridiculous.

A big event is fine, an Ashes Test match, the FA Cup final, the World Cup final, something like that, especially when combined with witty banter and useless stats which we all love.

But we are excited about these things, just like a breaking story. And let's be right, the World Cup final IS a breaking news story, as is the FA Cup, or the Wimbledon tennis final.

But a day of county cricket that will be repeated EVERY DAY (or so it seems) throughout the summer?

Are you sure?

I doubt the adrenalin pumps quite so freely for more than a dozen people across the land.

Still, one thing that did warrant 'live' coverage on this day, was the excellent Sky News blog on the Raoul Moat incident, including video updates etc.

Lovely stuff, and I bet the adrenalin was pumping like a good 'un.

Financial Dis-union

In recent weeks, a story has done the rounds in the national and regional press regarding the salaries of the top men at various trade unions.

Basically, the story informs us that despite fighting for the working man, day-in, day-out, 38 union bosses take home salaries in excess of £100,000 per year.

And I have to agree with the TaxPayers' Alliance that thisis a bit of a fuckin scandal. While I appreciate the money doesn't come from taxpayers, it does seem a touch hypocritical no that these chaps are happy to order their members out on strike, costing them desperately-needed cash, while their own salaries are of course, not affected in the slightest?

On the day this story broke, I also listened in to a radio interview with one of these union bosses, who was most indignant about the fact he was being challenged on his salary.

Well fuck me.

As the story says, the average salary of a civil servant is £22,850. Their union chief, Mark Serwotka, earns £111,112.


Even taking into account his position and responsibilities, the difference there is outrageous.

And, given what the average salary is for a journalist, is it any fuckin surprise that these guys do not get a lot of sympathy from the press?

Just spare a thought, union chiefs, when you are issuing your rallying calls for those in the public sector to walk out and demand more cash, that the poor fucker in the suit running around writing down the crap coming out of your mouth is probably earning a lot less than the average civil servant, has run out from an office that has become 50% emptier in recent years and has to combine three jobs, which is why he is fishing around for a camera while talking to you.

And our salaries AREN'T paid by the taxpayer either.

Cheeky feckers.

Monday, 5 July 2010


I can't stand it when people use the phrase "literally" when they, surprise surprise, say something literal. But there you go, that's just me. Anyway, on to something else.

Jordan. Katie Price. Katie 'Jordan' Price. The glamour model formerly known as Jordan. Whatever her fucking name is now, she has reappeared in our newspapers having been away for ooh, at least ten minutes.

And what a way to make a comeback.

Just weeks after stories appeared (from "sources") letting us all know that her fella was short of cash, we have the glitzy wedding-style ceremony in leafy Surrey for "close friends and family", as well as the obligatory 3,000,000 photographers.

These photographers were, of course, unwelcome and were the subject of what looked like some strong security measures to protect the blushes (and weighty exclusive TV contract) of the 'bride'.

Still, why the fuck were there photographers there anyway?

I know it's a classic old-man rant, but honestly, do we really give a shit that a two-bit glamour model is married to a cage-fighting thick bloke who was once on a Channel 4 programme called Celebrity Tossers in Fame Bid or somesuch nonsense? Do we?

I suppose we must do because why else would newspapers be so desperate to get the story?

I really do despair.

Still, at least she didn't come out with a quote using the dreaded "literally", oh, hang on...

"We're not going to have a wedding planner, we're literally going to do it ourselves."

I give up.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Even more news oddities...

You see? I told you I'd find more, and you are a darling bunch for responding to my plea for help so quickly!

So onwards and well, downwards I suppose...

First up, the ever-optimistic, which we are told has launched a revolutionary news shopping site.

I hear your gasps, and indeed, I gasped too, as I was looking forward to seeing what revolutionary enhancement they had come up with.

Alas, disappointment...

Yep, just an adopted page from Amazon. Still, I'm sure the good people who are 'getting' Surrey are glad they can now 'get' their DVDs alongside their local news...

Elsewhere, job ads are not, or are, what they used to be.

Regional newspaper site Hold The Front Page, often the first port of call for the many, many glitzy and glamorous opportunities on offer in the world of journalism carried an ad that intrigued me for a 'Club Reporter'.

A typo, me thought, but on closer inspection, that was indeed exactly what they were after!

And quite frankly, who wouldn't want a job working alongside the comedy genius who came up with "Send us your pitch"? Lovely stuff.

I couldn't let this bumper day of fun go by without mentioning our dear friends over at now could I (and there's more on them soon)?

Yep, the ever-enjoyable (or ever-cringe-worthy) TiG (ahhh) Blog continues to amaze with its biting wit and enlightenment of the workings of the site (when was the last time anything about the site and not the writer's tedious life was ever mentioned?).

Anyway, this particular piece of scripture really caught my eye.

Yes, I must admit that my life and understanding of is much richer now that I know this chap doesn't like Britain's Got Talent, or, more precisely, the acts he mentions (I personally wouldn't know any of them if I fell over them).

However, being a journalist, I do read newspapers and couldn't fail to spot the misspelling in the blog of the act Spelbound (correct spelling of the act), of course, spelt incorrectly as "spellbound".

Nothing big in that, you may think, and of course, we all make mistakes.

But what provoked me into commenting is that a few steps down is this gem:

In it, the writer (I presume it's always the same person, otherwise this irony is completely lost?), while discussing the literary growth of his offspring (why do we care again?) professes himself to be "a graduate of English Literature" and "a wordsmith".

A wordsmith would surely check the spelling of a TV talent show act before publishing?

Why of why don't people realise that if they are commenting on something, particularly if they're slating it, that they perhaps need to check if they're spelling names correctly?

Anyhow, I'll attempt another blog today if possible, I know I have neglected you for a while...

Some funny news stories from recent weeks...

Apologies for being a bit distant recently with things to (hopefully) brighten the inevitably dull day in whatever newsroom/office/trolley park (these itelephones are all the rage you know) you may find yourself in, but here are a few notable news shits...

First up, the oh-so-pretty-and-clever website for the FIFA World Cup 2010TM (see an earlier post, it's a nightmare...).

While the site itself is very lovely and has all the bells and whistles you would expect from a multi-billion pound organistation, I noticed one glaring error when checking it for the time of a game (I can't remember which one, I'm a fuckwit I know).

That is clearly not going to be vivible is it? So I'll explain...

The time (handily included in the non-visible grab, I grant you) in the corner of my desktop says 12.27pm.

Flit to the very clever ad beside the picture and the countdown timer (sponsored, no doubt, for a lot of cash) says the next match begins in 10 hours and 32 minutes.

Seeing as the next match kicked off at 3pm, if I were the sponsor, I'd be kicking right off (at 12.27pm).

It's so incredibly famous by now, but I had to include this one, just for a giggle.

From the New York Post:


Anyway, sorry it's so short and sharp for the minute, but I will have a trawl today and find no end of crackers, I promise...

Meanwhile, if you find any, do email the usual address:

It's nice when the inbox shows you're out there. Cheers for the mails, you know who you are!

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Suck eggs? But how?

It's a common site in newspapers, both national and local, a story or comment condemning the waste of an unusually-large amount of money on a survey that tells us exactly what we already know.

You know the sort: '£15,000 for university to prove men have different down-belows to women', that kind of thing.

Yet the one that caught my eye this week was commissioned and published by the previously-esteemed Press Gazette.

The story (online) was headlined: 'PG poll: Web most popular source of sport news'

Well flip me sideways and call me Doreen.

I presume the PG (since when was it called that?) is intending for us newspaper bods to gasp in amazement that mullet-haired readers no longer get on their Chopper bikes, rush down to their independent newsagent every morning, eager to hand over their 5p for a paper.

But amazingly, most of us no longer live in 1975.

Of course the internet is the most popular way of finding out sport news, doh! In the world of a sports fan - and I can not call myself in any way a dedicated one, yet can still understand their obsession - any minute could bring news of a transfer deal, an injury to your star player, a manager's resignation, team news, etc.

So why would you wait?

The only thing that surprised me was the fact that a television provider was picked out as the favourite 'publication, website or broadcast outlet for sports news'.

But that wasn't what surprised me (obviously, if you can watch something on telly, you would rather that surely?), no, what surprised me was that the most popular choice among the 1,000 apparently-sensible adults polled, was the fuckin' BBC!

Now, far be it from me to knock our over-funded, snobbish and often rubbish public broadcaster but clearly, this is simply wrong.

I can only presume that maybe, just maybe, those polled DO in fact live in 1975, and Football bleedin' Focus remains king, in a land where a jibbering Mark Lawrenson and, quite frankly, annoying Lee Dixon share private jokes that noone else can find funny with the likes of Martin Keown (and he knows about the subtlety of tactics how?).

But that stand out fact aside, this survey was completely pointless. And I would even dare to hazard a guess that those who voted for good old Aunty still initially found their sports news online, only to watch the Footy Focus feature on it while their wives or husbands or whatever else were out picking up the bread.

Hang on though, hold the phone, this wasn't the only surprising thing in the results.

Only three newspapers made it into the top ten favoured sources of sport news.

Well fuck me, perhaps it is earlier than 1975, as I thought none would get in there.