Journalist needs a deep throat

I have a great deal of empathy for the 52,000 newspaper journalists in the US and the thirty five thousand in the UK (if you can believe anything they report:  the UK figure is the membership of the National Union of Journalists).  The life of a journalist is not easy because trying to come up with something to report on every day must be difficult.  You are not only in competition with the reporters from other newspapers, you face competition with others in your same newsroom, so when a story does come along – then ooops, you have to compete with every other newspaper, tv station and internet based news-blogger going.  It’s no good going back to your editor and saying “sorry, Fox got there first and anything I write will have been better written by the Times (either London or New York)”   Not every journalist is going to get a deep-throat in a Washington parking garage and I suspect that the majority of them will never get a deep-throat in their lives.  And as interesting as it may be, Mrs Carter’s liking for the butcher’s sausage is widely known thanks to my mother and her friends.

So when your editor screams at you that he needs 800 words for page 10 and you know that if you don’t come up with something quick you will at best be forced to cover some small town court where the only thing of interest is 300lb Mrs Jones suing the local council because they objected to her sun-bathing nude in her back yard but allowed Miss ‘36-24-36’ to do it; or; at worst you will be replaced by the generic reports from a press agency and you will not be able to buy your son that latest game for the Xbox, the one with the really good graphics of soldiers and terrorists in London.  Eureka!  A story!

These thoughts ran through my brain when I read the latest Shock Horror Scandal piece in one of the UK’s papers, subsequently reported elsewhere.  Although this is only ‘Fury’ with ‘calls for it to be banned’, all the story is really about is how a company called Activision is releasing a new version of one of its successful game franchises, Call of Duty, that is going to be set in London.  But some enterprising or lazy journalist saw this and immediately turned this into a non-story about insensitivity to the families of victims of the 7/7 bombings and then turned to an organization called Media Watch to get a rent a quote about it.  And yeah, it happened.  The Chairman of Media Watch UK (who describe themselves as an independent voice campaigning for family values in the media) promptly said “I have concerns as these games are hyper-real and take place in a landscape we are familiar with.  In light of the fact we have just had the 7/7 inquests, it is in incredibly poor taste.”  That is not surprising, as Media Watch UK complains about everything in the media and even criticized Strictly Come Dancing because one of the contestants had once taken cocaine and had previously insisted that Apple should withdraw an application that draws a gun on the screen of an iPhone because of its insensitivity to the Northern Ireland troubles.  Perhaps they should talk to the NRA and the people of Iraq and Afganistan.

But then I smelled a rat and a stinking big one too.  The same article shouting ‘Fury’ also has screenshots from the game and the video trailer for it, as well as the a quote from a gaming review site on the interwebs and announces that the game can be pre-ordered for £45 in advance of its November 8th release.  It also goes on to say that other scenes show aerial attacks on New York and grenades exploding on the streets of Paris and Berlin.  No mention of the poor insensitivity to New Yorkers or Berliners who survived the world war, but a nice way of informing everyone that the game has an international setting and is not just confined to London.  So, is this a real story or just an extended press release for Activision?  Much in the same way as in an attempt to drum up trade, the Lady of professional virtue stands outside her house and says ‘poor little ole me, being run out of town for being nice to men’ when the town council has absolutely no thoughts of doing so (after all, they need someone to be nice to them as well), this is perhaps all part of the marketing campaign for the game.

But think of the poor reporter.  There are days on which the world doesn’t end (that is postponed until October now), when all the top reporters have flown to London for the President’s European Barbeque and everyone knows that some Austrian actor slept with his housekeeper.  Sarah Palin’s daughter didn’t get stopped for speeding – hang one, stop, drop the dead donkey from the front page, apparently Sarah Palin is ‘furious’ that her other daughter is going out with someone.  Yes that’s right, her other daughter is now dating a man a year older than her and therefore this is big!   

No, I am sorry that is not news.  Real news isn’t a press release or some idle chit-chat over the fence about Mrs Palin’s children.  And I am not furious or outraged or shocked or even interested that Gordon Ramsey’s father-in-law had an affair or that Simon Cowell wore glasses on TV for the second time.  I am almost positive that journalists have much bigger stories, especially as the world has got tired of the Terminator’s love child and there is a limit to how many photographs of Kate Middleton’s sister’s derriere you can print.  Even my mother used to stop talking about Mrs Carter and butcher’s sausage after a while and moved on to someone else.  But she didn’t pick up a brochure for something she would never buy and turn it into a scandal.  “Well, I never, Look, they should know better than to sell half cucumbers… golly, some poor man will feel inferior and Mrs Carter will be down the greengrocers in a flash…..”

Buried in today’s headlines are some more disturbing stories.  A whole town in the US has just be wiped out by tornados, Britain is about to put ground attack helicopters into Libya (a third war? Syria next?), Yemen is about to start a civil war, the US government is now about to keep passenger flight data for 15 years.  And yet by comparison, mock outrage by carefully placed marketing press release is more important.   Perhaps I should try it:

The regular reader of a blog expressed outrage today and accused a popular weblog of racism when it was announced that the site would publish a story about kittens.  Cryptothinking has announced that on October 22nd it will be writing about cute tabby cats and intended to publish pictures.  Shockingly, the story will be available free and without subscription on WordPress.  Whilst wishing to remain anonymous, the reader was quoted as saying “it’s outrageous.  Everyone knows that these pictures could be seen by children who will then pester their parents for a cute kitten. And it’s racist because they only show young tabby cats and don’t include pictures of Persian Blues or Siamese.”  Cryptothinker could not be contacted for comment, but a spokesman denied all allegations. “Cryptothinking  is only publishing these pictures as part of its ongoing authoring process and they will be in good taste.”  Religious leaders refused to be drawn into the debate, stating that they will be slightly busy as the Rapture has been rescheduled for the 21st October so perhaps it may be worth asking the Catholic Church to comment afterwards.

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About cryptothinker
Nowt

One Response to Journalist needs a deep throat

  1. No States No Borders says:

    If you cant beat them join them. I dont know or really care who Sarah Palin is.

    I wonder if the new video game will feature the latest tool in the terrorists arsenal,
    the one that leaves civilians alive but stuck to the walls and ceiling.
    The no more nails bomb.

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