Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Why the festive season is a glum time for the hacks!!


At this time of year, we should spare a thought for the plight of journalists everywhere, many of whom might be returning to work this week.
If called into the office, there is nothing much for them to write about.
How can they fill the white space between the ads when there is bugger all going on?
Take Christmas Day, for example. The big news will be the Queen's Speech, the Pope praying for peace (wouldn't it be news if he prayed for war?), and usually Somebody Famous Has Died (Eartha Kitt did the honours this year). Oh, and the bookies will be happy as it won't be snowing!
New Year's is little better. There will be the January sales, celebrations all over the world, with Sydney Harbour Bridge gaining prominence, though the longer bulletins might mention Auckland was first and feature a quick flash of Sky Tower. There will be sport and that will be pretty much it.
I am sure there will be many a newsroom raising a secret glass to the Israelis this year, as they will have to the Boxing Day tsunami a few years back. Gordon Brown will be getting added thanks for Bankrupt Britain's growing economic crisis giving added prominence and topicality to the reports on the progress of the January Sales. Now, we have failing store chains too, and further tales of economic doom and gloom.
In New Zealand, the Festive Season is also the Holiday Season. I do hope National had its press corps and ministers on duty to help fill the papers and tv news with their viewpoints. The media is particulalrly desperate for a story at this time of year, particularly now when newsrooms are depleted more than ever, thanks to cost cuts imposed by bosses in Ireland or Sydney.
With many of us on the beach, the seaside was often the place for the papers to join their readers. Thus, the Waikato Times for example would send a reporter and photographer to tour the holiday hotspots to write about what was going on in these places. A speciality would be tales of some Hamilton couple who have spent 40 years or more going to the same campsite and staying in the samespot every year, and often staying opposite the same couple from somewhere else, who have done likewise for 20.
Some years back, I edited a community paper in Thames, and fortunately the Coromandel had much going on at this time of the year, as its population swelled several fold.
But for the local press in Britain, well times are tough. The Yorkshire Evening Post in Leeds has featured little else but heartwarming 'human interest' stories of sick and dying children with uncurable illnesses and trying to get some Christmas angle in there somehow.
I don't know what the reporters on the Wetherby News were doing this week, but it cannot be much. Were they stuck in their Harrogate head office 20kms away, despite publishing a Wetherby number in the paper? How can a paper expect staff to gain the support of locals and get the stories if their staff are based at some head office many miles away?
I say this, as the Wetherby News really excelled itself in its January 2 edition.
I can't remember what the lead story was, it can't have been much, but the big picture story on the front page concerned a dog that had to go to the vet after swallowing a rubber ball! I ask you!
You might wonder what the journos were doing this week, but spare a thought for them if they have to write such crap. But this is something you can all help in. Yes, this blog often features criticism of journalists, often calling them lazy. But if you know of something going on, if you have something to get off your chest, do let them know.
At this particular time of year, they will be particularly grateful!

1 comment:

baxter said...

One enterprising reporter got an outstanding scoop on where John KEY was spending his holidays and how much she thought the house he was living in cost him.