Reading through This Week, I saw the most hilarious present, for the person who has everything (including a hamster): a little car operated by ham-power. Now, how can that not put a smile on your face! I reckon it belongs on one of my favourite websites Cute Overload, with pictures of, well, cute things. It’s a real pick-me-up: 2 minutes scrolling through at the beginning of the day can wipe out the horror of a London commute immediately, setting me up perfectly for what’s to come.
The Week is an interesting publication, a digest of the week’s news home and abroad that does seem to aim for objectivity, or at least balance. In line with my newly-developed sense of scepticism about information (check where the publishing comes from), I decided to look into who is behind it. Dennis Publishing started in computer magazines and are publishers of Maxim, which does make you wonder where The Week fits in, given the focus of the rest of their stable on the male 18-34 demographic. having said that, Felix Dennis was an editor of Oz, so that may go some way to explaining it.
One of the reasons I like it is the fact that it covers a lot of stories from around the world that rarely get reported here. Have you ever listened to the BBC News on Radio 4 late at night and then caught the World Service? You’d think you were living in two parallel universes! For example, last week hundreds of people were killed in Christian/Muslim clashes in Nigeria, something I just hadn’t heard before. And I have news channels on throughout the working day. Here’s something I don’t understand about these news channels – yes, there’s a 24 hour news culture, but it only covers a few stories a day. If you have one of these channels on for the whole working day, by the evening you are suffering severe deja vu from seeing the same stories and interviews over and over and over again. And yet there are things going on that never make the news that I’m sure people would be interested in knowing. There’s been quite a bit in Private Eye and such outlets about the job cuts at BBC News and the effect that has had on quality, and I think this is all part of the same problem – just not enough people dedicated to doing the job properly.
This came up over in Brussels last week – the example was journalists based in Brussels covering everything the Commission, Council and Parliament are doing, plus stories coming out of NATO, and anything on the domestic Belgian scene (I know a lot of them had to cover Dutroux all those years ago). So do they have the time to really get into any of these stories? Or do they become dependent on press releases and PR? It might be what I do, but as a reader/viewer/listener, I can’t be happy about such a situation. And the same is true domestically. There’s also the internet effect – rather than writing one article for the paper, correspondents have to write one for the paper, one for on-line, a personal blog, answer comments… There are some really big changes coming up in the media scene, and work for several PhD theses on the future role of journalism, I reckon. I’m enjoying reading Peter Wilby on these kind of issues: his post on Georgia is a real case in point.
Update: Was just reading Time and came across this article on the same subject. Wouldn’t have picked it up without the paper version though…
Update 2: It’s like when you hear a song for the first time and then hear it every where you go: got an e-mail from the LSE just now with this gem in it.