Monday, 25 October 2010

BBC you later...

The BBC has, for a long time, been something of a concern to me, as I'm sure it is to many other hacks around the UK and beyond.

Coming from a commercial standpoint - I have never worked for Aunty - it is easy to be angry at those who work within the vast estate that is the Beeb.

They don't have to 'earn' their money, as such, have lost no staff due to 'diminishing advertising revenue' (I can honestly recite that phrase verbatim having heard and read it so much in recent years) and, if perceptions are to be believed, seem to enjoy greater resources for even the smallest of assignments when compared to others.

A colleague of mine informed me, as we here at Hapless Times were putting together the newsroom plan for General Election coverage, that the count she was attending did not have 'wifi'.

I had been briefed, so understood that many reporters were expected to write and send stories throughout the night via the internet to give our readers a blinding, live insight into events, as they happened.

"But we could do what the BBC has done," she said, somewhat sheepishly. "And pay to have broadband installed at the count."

Imagine my consternation. Taking her - and the press officer who told her - word at face value, I am still somewhat pissed off by this.

The BBC - and as it later emerged from said press officer, Sky News - had teamed up to have broadband installed so that their coverage wouldn't be affected.

Fuck me, but that is not what I pay my license fee for I'm afraid.

Ground-breaking television, yes. Hell, I'll even cough up for those wildlife programs my mum likes, but broadband for one night? Feck off.

The BBC, for me, is not there to compete with the likes of Sky News, CNN, ITV, hell, even local or regional newspapers.

It is there to be the national broadcaster. To present news, television and the likes in an impartial, unbiased fashion.

Does it matter if it breaks the news first? Not really. So long as it gets there in the end with the facts and figures all stacked up, they shouldn't give a shit.

So why are they using my money to have broadband installed?

Anyway, all of this is really a ranting way of getting round the news that the BBC is facing a 16% cut as part of the Government's Comprehensive Spending Review - or as it has been labelled, the CSR (which sounds like a motorcycle to me but there you go).

My response? Why the fuck shouldn't they?

Is there anyone, working in local, regional, even on most national papers, that has not felt the pinch? That has not sweated over whether they will be among those facing the chop when the MD calls the editorial staff together for another "announcement"?

Quite frankly, it's about time the BBC took a share of the pain.

Here's a suggestion to the BBC: Sell that heap of shit Strictly Come Dancing to ITV, along with anything which could be sold for a lot of money, and actually cut my license fee.

Brucie could be sold too. And Graham Norton. And Chris Moyles.

Because what is the BBC doing paying these people ludicrous salaries when that is not what they're there for?

You could get someone to present Strictly, if they kept it, that would cost half Brucie's salary (me, for example). Yeah, I'd be rubbish, but what does it matter?

Hell, I'd even make my own way there and back for £500 a show.

As usual, my point could have been made so much more succinctly were I not to whitter on, so a cursory glance at a breakdown of the BBC figures reveals some interesting facts (granted, these are for 2005-2006, I couldn't get a similar chart any more up to date).

Of our monthly license fee, the spend is broken down thus:

BBC One: £3.52
BBC Two: £1.52
Transmission and collection costs: £1.08
Nations and English regions TV: £1.04
BBC Radio 1,2,3,4 & Five Live: £1.02
Digital: £1
Nations' and local radio: 68p
BBC Online: 36p
BBC Jam: 14p
Digital radio stations: 10p
Interactive TV: 8p

Forgive me, but what the fuck is BBC Jam (strike from my costs)? And I know lots of people who can't get digital TV or radio (strike interactive and digital radio).

Already I've saved 32p. No, it's not a lot, but of the £10.54, it's more than 3%, so it's a start eh?

Get rid of Chris Moyles' salary and I think my work here is almost done...

Oh, and don't forget, you can follow me nowadays on Twitter - I'm still on an enormously pleasing seven followers - via @HaplessHack

I will return with my first experience just as soon as I can find the conversation and work out how to display it here. As I've said, I'm new to all that tweeting business.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Twits, the lot of us.

Oh, and before I go, a quick update on my foray into the world of social networking...

I now have seven, yes, seven, followers on Twitter. I am amazingly pleased with that!

God love you all. I will post details of my first row later...

But if you should wish to have a looksie, I'm @haplesshack apparently.

More from across the pond...

I had to post this, as it is out there, from the Fox Sports Network website.

Clearly, some Americans really don't understand what is offensive and what isn't...

If you can't see it, it's the headline regarding some bloke called Wayne Rooney, who apparently has had a tiff with a manager.

It begins: "Later, wankers..."

Either they just don't get it, or a rogue Man City fan is working for Fox.
Wow, such a lot to contemplate in recent days...

The over-arching issue is, of course, the announcement of a new daily newspaper; i (apparently it is supposed to be in italics, as all modern titles should be, naturally, as a single, italicised letter clearly means cutting edge and new).

It's going to cost us 20p and from what I can gather, is intended to give us all of our news, in a deep enough format to make it interesting, yet still take something like 25 seconds to read in order to fit in with our hectic lifestyles.

So which is it? Is it the Metro? Or simply a butchered Indy? Either way, it'll be interesting to see whether it can challenge the early-morning dominance of the free, unitalicised, Metro.

The most ironic journalism news of the week however could only go to one issue. Newsquest.

Our esteemed friends from across the pond, at parent company Gannett, have really put their feet in said pond with comments made last week.

Gracia Martore, president and CEO (you have to say that with an American accent don't you?), is reported to have said: "Let me once and for all dispel the myth that Newsquest doesn't make money.

"Newsquest makes a lot of money. In fact, their margin, as I have said a couple times, is consistent with the margin that our local US Community Publishing operations generate.

"So their margins are in the high teens to low 20s and they have consistently made money throughout the years."

Oh right, well, that's okay then! If you're so chuffed Gracia, why not reward your staff? Oh, my mistake, you have, in the form of a 20% pay rise to one "top earning director" (believed to be Newsquest chief executive Paul Davidson).

The irony, of course, came in the form of a news story published in the hours following this brilliant news from the US regarding Newsquest, that jobs were to go as two new subbing hubs were being created in southern England, including shipping The Argus subs from Brighton to Southampton.

And which company is responsible for this? Newsquest of course, who are so good at making money.

While we're at it, I would urge Newsquest to issue a statement addressing the concerns of many friends of mine who work for that group, which is clearly so successful, on why there is a group-wide pay freeze which clearly, if we are to believe Gracia, only runs up to the buffers of "top earning directors".

Clearly, this is a cleverly-worded piece of super-jargon that is so clever and cunning that none of us will realise no journalist will ever have a cat in hell's chance of getting such a rise because when would one ever be a "top earning director".

It's enough to make you puke isn't it?

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Sex ads here... Or not...

Well, the dramas roll on in regional newspapers.

It really is like something from The West Wing, or more accurately The Thick Of It, at times.

Case in point: sex ads in local newspapers.

The age-old debate over the morality of publishing adverts for 'massage parlour's and the likes raised its ugly head again this week with a huge story from the Croydon Guardian.

It was a good piece, a reporter had secured an exclusive from the police that they were intending to prosecute editors who publish ads which are found to be involved in human trafficking, and included a raft of condemnation at rival newspaper groups who still publish such ads (the Croydon Guardian is published by Newsquest, which has banned such ads).

My opinion on such ads is, of course, a little old-fashioned, in that I have always had the 'don't ask, don't tell' mantra thrown at me when raising concerns over the issue.

The ads shouldn't be accepted, that's obvious. But then, how do you prove exactly what they are advertising? Is a ban on 'massage parlour' ads then putting genuine establishments in trouble?

Why should that particular line of business be the focus?

A mechanic could be dodgy, but do we send ad reps out to check their credentials (wrong choice of phrase?) before allowing them to advertise? No, of course we don't.

So I can see an argument, that's for sure.

However, Newsquest's stand was always to be applauded, except in situations like this, when the decision was used to beat its rivals with a decidedly shitty stick. Surely not the point of the ban?

UPDATE: The Thick Of It plot thickens, as a piece by Press Gazette - as is the way with these things - seems to claim the Croydon Guardian piece is not accurate.

It reads: "Press Gazette was told by the Met that it wanted to work with the newspaper industry but it has yet to receive a response from the service on the specific issue of whether it would seek to charge editors for carrying ads."

It's funny how, whenever someone has the balls to stand up on this issue, the industry quickly defends itself.

Perhaps, like me, those pointing at the Croydon Guardian have had years of 'don't ask, don't tell' thrown at them too.

I for one, however, salute the Croydon Guardian's intentions, if not the technique, and am unimpressed by others in this industry basically standing their ground over what we all know in our souls is a load of bollocks, no matter how often we're told to believe it.

UPDATE 2: Alas, another development, this time, quite frankly, of the pathetic nature.

This blog happily takes the piss out of silly mistakes made by newspapers, bloggers, websites, that kind of thing.

However, following the Croydon Guardian's story yesterday, an apparent local blogger had a go at them for posting a picture of sex ads which showed the phone numbers.

Now, I'm all for letting them know about the mistake, but for something as serious as this, and when a paper has actually stuck its head above the parapet, to do what Inside Croydon have done is basically just fuckin' low.

Read their blog here and be ready to cringe at some sad bastard taking a paper's good work to the cleaners in a bid to somehow show that he's a better journalist than the staff at the Croydon Guardian.

Maybe he or she is, but show it by coming up with a better exclusive, don't just take a cheap shot from your laptop.

The blogosphere eh?

However, don't forget, you can call me a wanker anytime you like on Twitter (@haplesshack) and by email at

Let's hope this is the final update on this story... But I doubt it!

Monday, 11 October 2010

Twits, the lot of'em.

Yes, I have to admit it. I have been looking in to Twitter as a result of constant badgering from those of you good enough to read this little blog in passing every now and again.

Just some of the comments I have had:

"It's great, you can just post things straight away and not have to have an entire blog prepared."

"You should tweet*, you'll get loads more followers."


"It's 140 characters so you won't be able to winge on talking shite to stretch out your blogs."

Okay, the last one was made up, but the others are real.

So, as I say, I've been looking in to it. And it has made me laugh a few times, so I am, today, going to announce the official Hapless Hack Twitter account. All I need to do is set it up.

Anyway, in perusing the latest internet phenom (apparently that's an acceptable word nowadays, as is nowadays) I have come across some very amusing things.

Yet I have also come to one very obvious conclusion. Basically, it's a tabloid hack's dream isn't it?

So-called 'celebrities' posting their thoughts, off-the-cuff, pr-free, reaching out to their 'fans' from the information super highway.

Or is it basically yet another tool for the lazy bastards that need something to write about?

Take the News of The World on Sunday. Now, I started following Lord Alan Sugar (let's be honest, it doesn't sound anywhere near as good as "Sir Alan") as apparently it is actually him, as he seems at pains to point out every five minutes.

So I watched his little joust with Conservative housing advisor extraordinaire Kirstie Allsopp as it happened, and chuckled to myself as I imagined the work experience kid at NoTW house tripping over as he ran to the newsdesk to explain the "row", "fight", whatever going on before his very eyes.

And sure enough, there it was on page 12 on Sunday, complete with "row", "bust-up" and amusing headline pun ('Apprentwit').

Oh, the joy of the technological age.

It's just an excuse for even more overblown crap really isn't it?

I'm going to start a new competition, email me ( with your Twitter stories and I'll give away 50% of the highest tabloid fee I get to one lucky winner...

Anyway, you can now follow me on Twitter, I'm @haplesshack apparently, so climb on and let's join the revolution! See you there.