Sunday, 17 February 2008


One of the few work-related things I do at the weekend involves reading a newspaper. There is a little more to it than that, to be honest. There's a small team of us in the office, each assigned a different weekend publication, and we check through them to see whether:

(a) anything relevant to our line of business gets covered (given that most papers have a specific section on our industry, this is pretty much a given), or
(b) our own organisation gets a mention (this happens less often).

Our first job on Monday is to meet up and decide whether any of the coverage under (a) is something we need to do something about. And if there's anything under (b), is it a Good Thing or a Bad Thing?

I bitched like mad after volunteering to do this, as I duly got assigned the Sunday Express. Yes, its politics are slightly to the right of Genghis Khan, but I knew this in advance and could apply the common sense filter to it all. It's a source of amusement, if anything. If you told Express readers that teenage hoodie-wearing gangs were the natural predators of asylum seekers, they'd implode in a cloud of logic.

No, my main disappointment was the shallowness of its reporting. A typical Sunday Express headline will feature the following elements at least once per month; house prices, Princess Diana, asylum seekers and hoodies. It's mob mentality made newsprint.

After about a month of my Monday morning moaning, they relented and gave me the Independent on Saturday instead. This is better. And yesterday I was rewarded when I looked at the Travel section, which had a feature on the countries of the Arabian peninsular headlined:

Oman For All Seasons

I love puns. This sort of thing makes my day. I love the thought that there was a sub-editor there going, "Shall I? Shall I? Can I get away with this?"

Last year I read Stuart Maconie's autobiography. Maconie is better known as a radio presenter, but he's also an accomplished writer who cut his teeth on the legendary NME. And he likes a pun. The book's called "Cider with Roadies" which is a good start, pun-wise. In it he tells a great story about Friday afternoons at the NME, when the writers would get together to come up with captions and headlines for the next week's stories.

A colleague was struggling. Bruce Springsteen had, after a long hiatus, launched two albums pretty much simultaneously. What could they use as a headline for the review? Maconie paused. Then came up with:

You Wait All Day For The Boss, Then Two Come Along At Once.



City Girl said...

You could save yourself some aggrivation by subscribing to Google Alerts. It's cheaper than a clipping service and takes a lot less time than combing some fish wrapper.

The report is emailed to you either daily or weekly and lets you know if your company's name shows up in a news article or on a blog or message board. Very handy.

fatboyfat said...

Oh, we do that too. But GA isn't too great when it comes to telling us about the wider sector stories.


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