Heroes of the Western Media

24 01 2010

Category: Media

News as entertainment may not be a new complaint – even if, as a friend of mine diplomatically put it, it’s good to be reminded of it by me occasionally – but it’s been well-illustrated in the coverage of the Haiti earthquake.

An incomprehensible and thus far incalculable number of people died in a lawless and corrupt country that sits atop a long-known geological fault and now lacks even the ability to take care of those who survived.

Luckily news organisations have a much better story. They had crews on the ground almost instantly and whatever damage has been caused hasn’t interfered with their ability to beam live pictures. Read the rest of this entry »





Journalists and Morality…

25 11 2009

Category: Media

News is entertainment. My first editor would go ballistic if anyone referred to our programme as ‘news‘ or a ‘bulletin‘. It was a ‘show‘. And it was. Our goal was to get viewers.

I heard somewhere that the Daily Express reckons it adds 250,000 readers every time they put a story about Michael Jackson on the cover. So they do, a lot. And Madeleine McCann. And Princess Diana.

A.N. Wilson on Any Questions, BBC Radio 4,  13th November 2009:

If you have ever been a journalist…you will realise that journalists are not moral people. We don’t think ‘is this right?’ or ‘is this wrong?’, we think; ‘is this a good story?’

Newspapers are not, as they claim to be, journals of record; they are fairy tales, they are branches of mythology.





Subtlety not required

28 10 2009

Category: Media

The journalism school I went to had a newsroom in Chicago in the same building as the local TV news, the Playboy organisation, and a supermarket. I was in the supermarket once when a news crew loomed into view trying to get reactions about something. I saw an opportunity to try an experiment; I thought that I could virtually guarantee myself a place on the news… Read the rest of this entry »





News Construction

23 10 2009

Category: Media

News stories are constructed. What I mean by that is that they are built up from raw materials into a news story. If you think of the empty space in the paper or on TV or radio as a plot of land and the journalist as an architect; when they’re asked to build a house on the plot there’s a range of possibilities as to what they will come up with. Read the rest of this entry »





Rowan Laxton – Undiplomatic

18 10 2009

Category: Law, Media, Middle East, Politics, Anti-Semitism, Rowan Laxton

(Update – In March 2010 Rowan Laxton was acquitted of racially aggravated public disorder after a retrial – see here for more)

In September 2009 I was idly looking at the BBC website and came across the case of Rowan Laxton. I wouldn’t normally have seen it; it was placed in the London section in the bottom right hand corner, the most obscure position it could possibly have been placed in with a headline “Race abuse diplomat convicted.” When I read the report I was surprised that I had not heard of the case before and that it had been hidden in the remotest corner of the BBC site. I think the case has lots of interesting aspects. Read the rest of this entry »