Tag Archive | "press"

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Views On Recent News

Posted on 19 February 2010 by maw

Everyone hates bad news, and there is a lot of it about, and of course we can’t blame the news media for that. What we can blame them for however, is making the news well, just terrible.  I don’t just mean that they highlight all the most shocking issues for ratings and drama (although they often do), I mean bad production, bad story choices, bad reporting, and generally being inane enough to make me shout at the TV daily.

I try to avoid 24 hour news channels, as that much nonsense might make my head explode, but as a human with a normal interest in the world around me I will generally watch the evening news and/or BBC’s supposedly news based morning show, Breakfast.  Now I don’t want to be too unkind to the BBC, as frankly it’s one of the few news channels I can bear to watch, but I still despair at the silliness of it all. I can’t help being appalled by the inane Brass Eye style graphics, the patronisingly simplistic reporting, the cringe inducing celebrity interviews and more infuriatingly the way they choose to cover major/global news stories.

I often seem to find the way the news media choose to report on major events and disasters distasteful. Especially their recent habit of ghoulishly filming grieving relatives going into funerals and even bodies of celebrities being removed from their homes. They generally seem to pick and choose which stories to cover based on the issues they deem as popular or current rather, than basing it on the need, human cost or suffering involved. The recent Haiti disaster is a sad example of the way the news can distort stories to suit them. I have watched various news channels over the last few weeks, and frankly I have been disgusted at the way many of them have decided to cover this story. While they have done a lot of good, making people aware of the suffering and need for support, a number of reporters just haven’t been able to resist focusing on the negative and highlighting inevitable outbreaks of violence.

In that situation any society would be in trouble, yet I have heard countless reporters imply that Haitian people are more violent and irrational than the rest of us, due to their troubled history. To me that is just a small step away from blaming them for their misfortune. Sounds far fetched but sadly TV evangelist Pat Robertson has done just that, blaming the Haitians for their misfortune as they had “made a pact with the devil”. These ridiculous statements have since been gleefully reported by various news sources, and of course most of them condemned his comments outright, after bringing it to our attention with shocking headlines first of course. I just can’t help thinking that focusing their cameras and our gaze at such negative comments, or any scuffle they can find, is unlikely to help the situation.

I could list plenty of other examples of news stories that have annoyed me over the last few weeks, but frankly there was no real need for me to say as much as I have, let alone more, as there is a man who says it all far better than I ever could.  Charlie Brooker, guardian columnist, TV presenter and angry genius, has focused his attentions on the news media for Newswipe, a BBC show described as a sideways swipe at the news.  The format is similar to his Screenwipe TV review show, and it’s equally funny. However as the news tends to be a bit less trivial than most entertainment shows, it can be a bit more depressing.

It’s great to realise that I am not alone in my disdain, and the ridiculousness of the clips he finds and his brilliantly caustic comments really bring home the reality of how awful the news can be. While he can be incredibly funny, even in the face of frankly horrific news stories, he is also appalled at certain aspects of the news and has a real talent for highlighting these flaws. It’s clear that he isn’t claiming to be an expert on news, but I believe that this lack of expertise and involvement actually enables him to notice and comment on how messed up news shows can be, in the same way that many of us do at home.

So if, like me, you find yourself becoming enraged by the inanity of the news and news related shows, check out Newswipe on BBC4 (22.30 on Tuesdays). We are currently on season 2, so there are plenty to catch up on via iPlayer/Youtube. While I loved it from the start, Brooker has really nailed this season, and every episode will have you laughing loud enough to annoy the neighbours. It may not make the news any better, but at least you can finally get some enjoyment out of bad news.

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saint

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Jade Goody – Beauty or the Beast?

Posted on 28 March 2009 by maw

Over the last few weeks (or months even) it has been impossible for anyone in the UK to miss news of reality TV’s Jade Goody and her ongoing struggle against terminal cancer and recent very public demise.

I am not a regular newspaper reader and generally avoid tabloids, however occasional glances at the metro and catching tv news coverage have made me increasingly uncomfortable recently.

I am not going to claim to have been a huge fan of the reality TV contestant. I have never been especially interested in her and her ignorance has made me cringe a few times, however I have always felt that she received an excessive amount of negative media attention and in the case of the race row became the scapegoat for others because she was already such an easy target.

I am not blaming her for taking advantage of the attention, as she was clearly trying to make money to support her family. That doesn’t however make it feel any less ghoulish when the press give us extreme close-ups of her suffering on a daily basis.

As the whole public saga of her last few weeks unfolded in the media I noticed that suddenly the girl who had previously been labelled as Jade “Baddy” was suddenly being regarded as a saint and compared to everyone’s favourite corpse Princess Di.

Newspapers that had once branded her as ignorant, racist, fat, ugly and whatever else they felt like calling her are suddenly calling her a vibrant young woman and a brave hero. Purely at random I have glanced at the Daily Mail website to see if it will illustrate this. As you can see in the few examples I am pasting below, they have no qualms about completely changing their opinions of Jade and her actions, and can even use identical facts in both a positive and a negative way.

In most cases you can’t blame the individual reporters, you couldn’t even if you wanted to, as bylines are conspicuously absent on a lot of opinion pieces. Amusingly some journalists have clearly forgotten the opinions they previously committed to print, as evidenced in the two articles quoted and linked below…..

Quotes from Think TV can’t get any worse? – by Allision Pearson Daily Mail May 2007…

“Big Brother will be preceded by an apology. Not for the brain-rotting dross that is certain to follow, but for the previous series in which a group of moronic white girls bullied the Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty.

“On Radio 1 yesterday, BB presenter Davina McCall said: “Leave Jade Goody alone. She’s been in the wilderness long enough. She was a silly girl, but we do love her really, don’t we?”

So Jade is a foul-mouthed, ignorant bully, but that doesn’t stop her being a shoo-in to replace the Queen Mother as national treasure.”

Quotes from Jade Goody and Princess Diana had so much in common – also by Allison Pearson – Daily Mail 2009

“Both women ended up as a kind of royalty, one ancient, the other that modern monarchy called fame. They had the power of changing a room when they joined it. They made people happy and excited, which may not be a degree course, but is a talent nonetheless”

“But they had a way of bypassing conventional intelligence and making an intuitive connection with a crowd which unnerved some commentators – especially men”

Phew.. good thing Allisons ovaries prevented her from being unnerved.

Finally, some interesting images taken from the Daily Mail search screen….

So is she ignorant and idiotic? Comparable to Hitler…

Or an almost saint-like Lady Di figure….

Was she an unforgivable racist and bully?

Or just misunderstood…….

Was she an un-attractive figure of fun…..?

Or a real heroine…

Let’s hope that she (and the story) will finally be allowed to rest in peace.

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