Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Real news, please!

Tuesday morning
Development spend: Same

Not-news of the day: Ruth Kelly sending her kid to private school.

And it's the second day - it was just as much a not-news story yesterday when Radio Four first got excited about it. Despite the struggle to find anyone who thought it was A BAD THING. Despite the struggle to find real parents in similar situations to humanise the story. Despite No10's story flattening moves.

It's interesting if you like seeing Labour bigwigs wriggle. It's interesting if you're a parent with your own child's battle to get special support to fight. But beyond that it isn't a story. It isn't news. It's editorial muscle-flexing - showing off the ability of the media to make a story out of fluff and sticky-back plastic.

And Radio Four seems to be getting especially bad (or good) at it. Seems anytime they've run out of ideas for a splash they bring in a cabinet minister and try to knock them over. Like the Prescott not-news story a few days ago. Am I bothered that Prescott thinks Saddam's execution was not quite cricket? Let me think about that for a millisecond. Nope. Not at all.

I'm bothered about all kinds of things that are real stories - like what's happening on the ground in Iraq, like who is running Iraq, like why British troops in Afghanistan are so under-equipped for the war they've been thrown into - and why Britain went back to Afghanistan. And dozens and dozens and dozens of things that really are news stories.

Sean Langan's Dispatches piece last night on Channel 4 was a great example of how a story doesn't have to have happened that day to make it newsworthy. Great journalism, bit confusing as an exposition, but compelling, strong story-telling.

We need to break away from the straight-jacket of form and style we've built for news journalism - and we need to bring back a bit of humility to the way we see ourselves as journalists and editors in defining and delivering the news.

Rant over.

So, Sweeble V.2 is still live. First batch of emails have gone out to journalists I've worked with in the past. Next two batches being worked on and I'm waiting for the promo pub cards to arrive.

In the meantime I've finished assessing two boxes (out of six) of first semester journalism student work and almost finished off the Christmas chocolates along the way.

And I'm still getting a kick out of getting up in the morning, excited about what I've got to do that day, shoving on yesterday's jeans and walking 20yds across crunchy gravel to the shed/office to work. This morning, the wind is throwing itself around the garden, flattening bushes and scattering the bird food I put out, and there are the deepest, darkest clouds building over the hills in the distant. Yummy.

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