When stupid rules the news world

I complain about the shit that’s called “news” these days, but I’m not silly/elitist/wankery enough to believe that all news should be Serious Political Reporting About Serious Things. Of course there’s room in there for less-serious news and silly news. The problem is that the stupid stuff has moved from the last story of the bulletin or the weird news section on the website, and now sits alongside the real news.

And by stupid news I mean the mother-in-law email about manners that’s been reported by Fairfax, News Ltd and the ABC today. Seriously, a news story about an email that was forwarded to other people? In the nineties, sure, but now? Earth to Brint, it’s 2011 for fuck’s sake.

Besides being embarrassed for the MSM, I think reporting this story is a gross invasion of privacy. It is very clearly a private email between two people who are not public figures – and even if they were, unless the contents of the email were at odds with their public persona, there’s no legitimate news reason to publish it. And what happens to the relationship between the mother, son and partner now, after such an international embarrassment? The news editors in the UK and Australia who ran this story are responsible for damaging relationships within this family, all so their audiences can have a bit of a giggle. There is a very big difference between something the public may be interested in, and something that’s in the public interest. (This is why I wasn’t a successful journalist.)

When the MSM reports on “funny things on the internet” it feels like they are desperately trying to convince people that they’re relevant. That they’re hip, and they know what the cool kids are doing. Particularly because by the time the MSM reports on the “funny internet thing”, the rest of us have already seen it.

20 responses to “When stupid rules the news world

  1. My editor said I had to write 500 words about this thing I found on the Internets.
    By Adam Cooper

    Safe to say I’m going to be a little racist and pick on the poms.

    I feel safe in doing this because I know how much Australians like to think of themselves as easy going and down to earth and they love judgementally disapproving of Brits, especially when they think they are being stuck up and proper.

    But in order to do that I need to tell you that I ripped this thing, not off the internet but off Britain’s Telegraph. That’s a British Newspaper, from Brittan you know, for Brits. Bloody poms.

    [insert picture of angry pom looking annoying]

    Next I’ll throw in a reasonably well known pop culture reference like “the Ladette to Lady television series” which is actually quoted in the thing I found on the interwebs.

    Quoting stuff is journalism you know and to make sure this is journalismistic enough I’ll quote the thing I found a few more times and try and include a word that will attract your attention. Like fart. That’s a good word. “Miss Fancy Pants” who is “so far up her own backside she really doesn’t know whether to speak or fart”.

    At this point I could just post a link to the thing I found, it’s even short enough to have at the top of the article but if I do that you’ll just chuckle at the stupid poms and you won’t read the rest of this. Also if I do that then I won’t get to my 500 words and my editor will get angry.

    Rather than actually do any work I’m going to quote an interview that another journalist did. “‘Miss Fancy Pants’, we call her,” Mr Withers told the London Telegraph. “I think she has got her eye on the Queen’s job.”

    Since I have to link to the journalist who did the work I’m going to summarise their whole article so you don’t actually have to follow the link. You should be reading my story anyway, it’s much better.
    Mr Withers said that while he found Freddie’s father, Edward, to be pleasant, Mrs Bourne had bored him with talk about her horses and schooldays when they met over dinner at a London pub last year.
    OK that’s about 390 words. Nearly there! Ohh my editor told me that if I don’t put my own opinion in here but instead quote the opinion of other people then it’s not an opinion piece and can go in the lifestyle section! Excellent!

    Mr Withers said he and his wife, Sylvia, had been unable to pay for most of the cost of the wedding because they had been made redundant from the nursing agency they ran together.
    But in a further aside to Mrs Bourne, he said the Withers family might count gentry among their ancestors, including Sir William Withers, who was Lord Mayor of London in the early 1700s.
    “There are not many Withers in the world, but several hundred years ago my ancestors were quite well-to-do,” he said.
    “She can call us commoners if she wants.”

    530 words! Sorted!

  2. And, what about the way the page 3 girl is now on the front page of every news website. The pictures on news websites, I’m tempted to say they certainly leave something to be desired, but they don’t. They show scantily clad women to be desired, even when the story and the picture are rather tenuously related. Got to get that page 3 girl picture in somehow.

    • True. News sites will use any excuse to run a picture of semi-nude women.

    • My God! I haven’t been in the UK (except for Heathrow stopovers) since the 80s, but I assumed that surely this archaic sexism had long gone. At least in the 80s they had the excuse that the MSM and society in general hadn’t quite caught up with the gender politics. What excuse are they using now? (That’s if they’d even bother with one.)

  3. Catherine: I think its kind of sad that showing women in lingerie is bad but showing barely clad men isn’t. Both sexes should be able to do these things without criticism – isn’t feminism about choice?

    • Of course people can wear with they like and pose in their underwear. The problem is that our culture tells women that their biggest value is in being hot/sexy. And do we really need semi-naked women on our news sites?

  4. There is a very big difference between something the public may be interested in, and something that’s in the public interest.

    Have you ever read Terry Pratchett’s “The Truth”? You’d probably enjoy it…

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Discworld/TheTruth

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