I’m really trying to adopt this #BeKind thing, but when I see Harry Styles on the Brits in a bright yellow suit and woman’s purple chiffon scarf, looking for all the world like a Cadbury’s Cream Egg, it really is very very difficult.
Anyway, here’s an idea; how about if all you gossip mag and celeb-driven tabloid readers just stop. Boycott any publication that sees the misfortune of someone in the public eye as news and in no time at all they would have to find something else to write about.
There’s a lot going on in the world yet the entire front page of Saturday’s Mirror was taken up with a lead story of one of Caroline Flack’s exes, rugby misfit Danny Cipriani, talking about what a lovely person she was. The remainder of the page was a plug for a Colleen Nolan interview saying she hasn’t had sex in three years.
Now, either Cipriani was approached by the paper or a publicist brokered the interview on his behalf.
Whichever it was shows what a tawdry bunch is dictating the news agenda. It’s a symbiotic relationship that suits both parties – until it suddenly doesn’t.
Celebrities live on publicity, but while the press will happily churn out the positive, many of us are just as likely to turn on them and bite the hand that feeds when something salacious crops up.
It all boils down to what is newsworthy and what the lowest common denominator chooses to read.
A journalist’s job is to inform. A publisher’s job is to make their publications financially successful. The two can be very uneasy bedfellows, which is why a particular type of tabloid journalist was invented, led by some very unscrupulous characters.
I liked Caroline. She was one of those presenters who was a breath of fresh air on TV, even if some of the programmes she fronted were not necessarily to my taste, and her death is a tragedy.
But so are the deaths of ex servicemen unable to deal with PTSD or life on civvy street. So are the deaths of anyone feeling so desperate they can’t go on.
So be kind by all means, but don’t do it and then still greedily soak up the next incident of someone famous caught up in a situation which would not be of any interest but for the fact that you saw them on Hollyoaks once.
Publicists and tabloid publishers are not the only people who try to set the news agenda. On a local level authorities and the police are always at it.
Every council and every police force at every paper I have ever worked for over a period of 35 years has at some point tried to direct the stream of information to suit their own agendas.
Just look at Essex County Council and Essex Police’s absolute refusal to answer for what went on with the Shoebury sex ring in the 90s, a story the YA has investigated over the past five years – resulting in a number of national and regional press awards for reporter Charles Thomson, the present weekly journalist of the year (and the real deal, by the way).
If journalistic cynicism is worth anything it’s in recognising that getting to the bottom of matters that can truly reveal what has been kept from the public domain is far more worthy of our time and training than wasting column inches with gossip about who’s sleeping with who.
Stupid TV quiz answer of the week
Some absolute crackers this week from the guy on Tipping Point who thought the first man on the moon was Lance Armstrong to the hilarious:-
Q: What round vegetable shares its name with a bright shade of green?
But the best of the bunch wasn’t even a quiz question. It was the moment Annette from Birmingham said: “Oil ‘ave drop zone numbero uno please Ben.” (I’m allowed to take the ride out of the accent because it’s mine too).
Or am I not being kind?