#METROBLOG: Understanding the World Cup coverage: an outsider’s guide to Football

I’ve made it no secret to almost everyone I’ve met over the years that I don’t have any knowledge, understanding of or interest in one of our nation’s most overindulged pastimes: football.

The reason I’m such a smarmy prick about it is because whenever someone starts talking to me about football; because they assume its a topic of small talk that literally everyone is interested in (I start hearing white noise whenever anyone starts talking about it,) and when I say in response: “I don’t really know anything about football,” the reaction is usually kind of zealotish. They say “well you’re got to have a passion! Don’t you have passion?” Why am I supposed to be an unpassionate, sterile robot with no enthusiasm for anything just because I don’t see why people attach such significance to a game people play? I have passion for lots of stuff, but apparently sport’s just more special than everything else.

And people say “well if you don’t care, just ignore it,” well its kinda hard to when my commute’s reading material, the Metro, starts wasting the entire first quarter of their paper on circular world cup coverage:

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NEWSFLASH: OPENING CEREMONY HELD IN A PLACE…..slow news day?

So since the Metro’s statement of intent to turn their paper into a cycle of: “this team did a thing last night” for the next…however long the world cup goes on for; I decided to do some research for me and the other people in this country who really couldn’t give a toss about football, cause guess what? There’s around 52 million people in this country, and I doubt that world cup coverage gets 51 million, nine hundred and ninety nine thousand nine hundred and ninety nine viewers and it really is just me that didn’t watch. I’d wager those of us uninterested in football probably outnumber the people that love it by quite a bit.

So yeah: here is the user friendly guide to how the emotionally complex game of football works. Basically:

This ball

is pusballhed into this goal by a team’s feetgoal

 

 

 

 

And the other team try and stop them and put it in the other goal with their feet.

….Look I’ve done a helpful little diagram in case this is too complicated

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Yeah I know, requires a lot of attention this game, doesn’t it? Leaves me scratching my head and begging newspapers to endlessly tell me all the intricate details of this expansive network of topics related to the act of putting a ball in a goal spread across like eight pages:

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Wow! Right so, lemme get this straight and lay all this out; so, basically: people get excited about footballl……okay I’m still trying to digest this so, um, could we get it more in layman’s terms so I understand the complexity here?

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Hmm….still having trouble understanding here, can you papers try and help me understand by reporting the words “THE FOOTBALL WAS ON LAST NIGHT” on every other page for the next few months? I’m sure there’s a reason for doing that……I don’t know what it is, but I’m sure it’ll come to me.

#METROBLOG: Reading the metro in a non-commuter context: Everything is Shit and you’re going to die!!! :) lol!!!

Author’s note: the copy of the metro I am sourcing is one day out of date. so apologies for the frankly victorian stories about how people vote for racists, someone died again, and animals are cute….actually maybe the idea satire has to be based on recent events is actually bollocks. Anyway, same old shit.

So, I had the day off yesterday, but I was going into London anyway because I was going to see the American noise rock band Swans because I’m a pretentious little shit who is easily excited by loud noises. And there was a copy of the Metro left. Just one. I probably should have resisted, but I had the idea of trying to read it outside the context of being a commuter. I seem to approach newspapers with a different mindset in the morning on my way to work since naturally you just want a general haze of random stories to wash over you and I never really absorb what’s in them as I get my important news from social media later on when I’m actually awake. Then when I started reading it I started to realise: if I was actually awake when I read these, I would realise something: human society is full of scumbags, horror and death.

scan0001You are all my children now!!! HAHAHA!!! THE VOTERS ARE MINE!!! …and if that wasn’t enough it just kept getting worse:

scan0003 And worse

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….okay, yes I made that one up but given how depressing the first half of this edition I’m looking at was, would you really have noticed the difference? Is it just me or is the idea of a cosmopolitan newspaper who’s central section is all about young busy londoners who work hard but play hard a bit of an anachronism when you consider the tone that news takes on a daily basis? Literally the first half of the paper is page after page of this and then “we’re all modern and facebooky”

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Its a bit of a jarring tonal shift narratively. You need more of a sense of progression from negative to positive, so by the end the paper, the commuter has that moment of catharsis. So it sort of follows your mood from “just woken up” to your attitude when you’re awake by the time you finish the paper. So for example we start out with something bleak like this:

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And we continue on with a few pages about abuse, death, rape, torture, war, famine, pestillence and Nigel Farage’s face, then halfway through we get slightly happier.

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And then more light hearted and positive as we go through with “Someone organises a fete for the British Heart Foundation” (a positive charity story but still with the reminder of terminal illness). Until by the end its a print media form of a fluffy hug, like this:

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Come on newspapers; I could easily make presenting news waaaay more interesting. Prog-news needs to become a journalistic genre.

Next week: Why the news needs a protagonist, character arc and a plot about talking sea horses.

#METROBLOG: Guess what? These people are richer than you!

This seems to be a regular thing in the Metro for some reason; they reprint this list once every couple of months. I honestly can’t fathom why and its rather annoying for a multitude of reasons, so if anyone knows one of the Metro’s editors; can you please send him/her a link to this blog accompanied by the words: “TARGET AUDIENCE”?

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…thanks Metro. I wanted to know that. The information that I absorbed in this article was so enlightening. I can use this information in my everyday life, reminding me how utterly poor and worthless I am while screaming: “Rich cunts! they get everything!!!”

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….who is interested in this Metro? Which commuters who spend about 15% of the wages on travel in and out of london, to and from work everyday want to read about how one of the lesser known members of One Direction earns five times more in the space twenty minutes than they will in their entire lifetime? Even if you are rich, I’m sure a certain cross section of regular commuters are rich, even if they read: “Hey guess what? These are the top earning celebs,” I guarantee won’t give two flying shits because what’s the purpose of informing them of that? Who needs to know this? Who cares? Who are you catering for?

Of course someone’s likely to tell me its aspirational media here; its meant to make you wanna change your life to be rich and successful…problem is its not saying how to or what that aspiration to be rich and successful will actually achieve. Its just saying who is rich. They print these lists every three months or so and its just: “THESE CELEBS THAT EITHER SING OR APPEAR ON TV EARN LOTS” you can’t really interpret a lot from that except apparently Adele earns lots when she does nothing at all. Wow, my life feels so enriching knowing I earn 0.0028% of that doing lots of things (0.0017% after tax & travel) and she earns billions by doing nothing. Like, who wants that thrown at you on your commute? I know a newspaper is meant to be “STUFF YOU MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN, WE’RE TAKING OUR CHANCES,” spread over about 40 pages, generally speaking you don’t what you’re gonna get, but the problem I’m highlighting here is this is completely useless information that also slaps about 90% of its readership in the face if they happen to be in the position of reading the metro. Who wants to read this and why? I’m sure you at least want to have some impact on your readers’ lives Metro, otherwise why are you even bothering putting out a paper at all? You could try putting some effort into finding out what commuters could and couldn’t give a toss about.

I swear they’re a few steps away from putting out a list like this one:

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Please stop doing this shit Metro, its not what you’re for. The fact some celebrities earn lots is not news or of any interest to your target audience.

#METROBLOG: The Cuteness Algorithm: The happy frog is happy

Anyone familiar with these blogs will know my primary goal is to define what a morning newspaper designed to be read by tired stressed commuters should and shouldn’t be doing. Granted most of the examples I druge up are for wholly negative criticism and my diatribes on them are full of bile because that’s the sort of person I am. But if you’ve read the metro every weekday for more than say two months you will notice that they do apply at least one formula to be repeated ad nasuem. And I personally think its for wholly appropriate reasons and shows that while a lot of the time they really don’t understand their target audience and just think “we’re a newspaper, we have to report on One Direction’s sex lives”, the editors do at least understand that the paper always needs to feature between two and three cute animal pictures.

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This happy looking frog (hereafter known as “Happy Frog”) was pictured in a photograph looking happy. That’s it. Didn’t have sex with anyone, didn’t say something obnoxious, didn’t cause a scandal, didn’t drop any hints about future career plans, wasn’t questioned as part of operation Yew Tree. Nope, he just looked happy in a photo. Perfect. Brilliant editorial decision making in action there. The stakes are low, its bright and cheery, there’s not really a whole lot that’s taxing on your brain its just “This frog looks happy”. Its a morale boosting exercise more than anything, I’m not being patronising, the commuter paper should be providing something mildy diverting and comforting to wake up to and cute animal pictures do that better than articles about death, war and rape that make up about 90% of the first half of the Metro.

At that time of the morning your brain does regress to that of someone who can barely grasp the fact that you are standing waiting for a train that is one minute late so it starts to shout at itself about how fucking typical everything is. So let’s show that tired irrational mentally subnormal worker a happy frog. D’awwww, he’s all smiley!!

Granted I’d think it was flippant, shallow, vapid and stupid if it was done about a person, but since its about an animal, it’s not.

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Actually the tabloids probably would do something like that…shit I’m meant to be doing parody articles here. Okay, just as much as this algorithm for inducing enough d’awws in the irrational dickheads like me reading your paper, every few pages cute animal, as much as that works, its not nearly often enough. So jettison the shit about someone died, some guy’s directed a play about people getting their eyes gouged out (no seriously I saw that in the standard the other day for some reason) leave the serious stuff to the proper newspapers, you don’t have to do that Metro. From now on I honestly believe at least 45-50% of your articles should look something like this:

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Again, I’m not trying to be patronising, wouldn’t this make the morning commute that much more awesome?

http://www.youtube.com/user/herbalcrackpot

#METROBLOG: The Metro’s page 3: Who cares what its about? Just get me a pun damnit!!

The Metro’s page 3 is infamous among commuters for always being something trivial and fluffy, and for good reason. At that time of the morning: you’re barely cognisant of where you are or what you’re doing, so some light hearted fluff isn’t just appropriate; its utterly necessary. For example; here’s a Metro page 3 I republished a while ago in which the man who made the world’s largest jigsaw accidentally dropped it and it fell to pieces.

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Thing is though; since newspapers are by nature published in a hurry to get everything done on time, sometimes they don’t really give a whole lot of thought into whether they way they present it is a tad inappropriate. Take for example this instance where the New York police department’s attempt to get positive publicity through social media by getting people to tweet pictures of them with their happy friendly police officers went horribly wrong when people started tweeting pictures of police brutality.

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Is it just me or does that headline completely sum up the state of tabloid journalism and their lack of self awareness and tact? “What’s the story about?” “I DON’T CARE!! JUST GET ME A PUN!!! THE DEADLINE’S IN TWO HOURS!!!” Looks like Twitter’s become a shitter for NYPD’s publicity! …yeah I’m shit at puns, I won’t do those again, I’m sorry.

This isn’t the most tasteless case of forgetting that not everything needs a pun and it’d probably be a good idea not to pun it. I have seen worse cases where stories of incest, rape, and people being decapitated have ended up getting a pun headline. But whether you agree with their punning this story or not, it still doesn’t seem like the sort of thing the Metro’s page 3 was designed for. Sure it’s got the social media element in there but the general formula for this page looks something like this:

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Whereas police brutality isn’t exactly something that achieves this effect. To make my point I’m gonna have to be very tasteless, so please forgive me but I’m trying to make a point here.

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See what I mean? You’d better break out the puppies having a tea party or a quirky sort of bake sale for cancer tomorrow Metro, cause this shit doesn’t slide for commuters.

#METROBLOG: Train Driver/Commuter Bitch War: Let’s all play “Who’s got the best opinion?”

The Metro opinion page has been playing “Who’s got the best opinion?” again. Which is always a laugh for me because literally everyone that plays it comes across like an idiot. For those unaware “Who’s got the best opinion?” is a game the Metro plays on their opinion pages where one day they randomly introduce a subject right the fuck out of nowhere and take the most vehement and objectionable opinions they can find baiting the other side to yell back at them tomorrow and printing the resulting bitch war over a series of several days.

Its called “Who’s got the best opinion?” because…they’re not opinions. Its a disputed fact that people base their opinion on because of one random example they can think of. Like say “Is it difficult to claim benefits in the UK?” you’ll think either yes or no but that’s not an opinion, its either a fact or it isn’t. So one day people present their opinion validated by one example, or not even that in a lot of cases, next day people present the opposite side validated by one example, next day the previous people call them stupid faces, then the next day the other side responds, you get the idea. But neither say anything concrete or conclusive, its just some vague musings by people with only the basest understanding of what they’re talking about which means fuck all in the long run, passing the baton back and forth to see who wins.

This time it was about train drivers’ salaries. This debate’s been brought on since the tube strike a couple of months back and the death of Bob Crow (personal nomination for best person ever, rest in peace) and the looming potential for further travel disruption. This game was always gonna happen and seriously fellow commuters: you aren’t exactly helping yourselves by saying some of this stuff, it only makes a strike more likely when it makes it firmly clear you have no respect for the guy driving you to work. You don’t call the designated driver a thick twat, first rule of being a passenger.

1I know this may seem weird I’m taking the other side of the argument. As I’m generally known to bitch about train travel a fair bit, but I don’t blame the people doing the job they’re told to do with shit equipment. And I feel a certain kinship with people whose career sees them doing menial repetitive tasks for prolonged periods of time.

The main thing that got me about the opening shot in this bitch war was the guy saying the main reason train fares are so high is the drivers are the ones that are overpaid ruling out more funds for anything else…………okay, I know its not exactly the grown up thing to go in response to that: “EUEUUU!!! DUMMY!!! BIBLDYBIBLDYBIBLDYBOO!!! DO YOU WANT ME TO BUY YOU SOME PLAYDOUGH?!?!?” but I feel it wholly appropriate in this instance. Rail companies are private businesses now, they have to turn a profit and have a service that has its users hostage because they’ve got no other choice of transport…and yet for some reason the drivers are the ones doing the hostage holding because they feel they should see some of that insane profit margin….yeah I wouldn’t trust any of the people in charge of it to not decide to thinly disguise lining their pockets with unjustifiable fare hikes and their bonuses and no guarantee of improved service, why would you fall so heavily for that one unless you seriously need primary re-schooling? Yeah, this is what we call “naive capitalism” here, we don’t blame the boss we blame the workers.

Another interesting thing about the opening shot is this thing about a main beef with train travel:

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Now, I’d all but forgotten about this by the end of the day but as I was on my way home going from Kentish Town to St. Pancras on Friday, we came to a red signal. And the driver, God salute this man said this over the tannoy (I am paraphrasing slightly):

“I apologise passengers, we are being held at a red signal. But of course according to Mr Jonathan Bright if he’s on this train, that’s no excuse is it? Of course if he’s ever held a driving licence in his life he would know you can’t exactly go when you see a big red light in front of you or you might kill somebody. So I apologise for the dog eating my homework. We’ll be on the move shortly”

….I seriously wanted to stand up and applaud that man. Because…well yeah its a highly valid point, the driver’s not exactly who you should be directing your fury at, is he?

Then the train drivers responded next day.

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I felt they all had valid points but all it really amounted to was more people winging about how “theirs is harder than everyone else!” which is a difficult thing to do without coming across like a whiny teenager. I do see the point about the possibility of hitting someone though and is a main reason I would never want to be a train driver. Thing is though, no matter how justified you feel, if you ever talk about how your job is stressful, which of course it is, everyone feels stress in different ways and all jobs are….weeeell then we get people being self important dicks moaning about how you should count your blessings in an monumentally insulting way when guys, they just stood up for themselves when people slung their insults at them when its their bosses they should be blaming. These guys are just doing what they’re told. Cause then things got slightly nastier:

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…you think being a train driver’s bad? Try being a nurse or a care worker! Yeah I get it alright, so does everyone, nurses and care workers are hideously underpaid, but no one was saying train drivers have it worse than nurses ya fucking idiots. The response rail workers gave was about misdirected aggro and being seen as responsible for the dicks in charge of the company, where the fuck are you bringing this unrelated subject from? Because someone said “my life’s not exactly brilliant” so everyone can now have a good old moan and lock themselves in their room listening to Linkin Park going “My life is so unfair!”

I expect tomorrow someone’s gonna write in “You think being a nurse is tough? Try being a CEO of a tax dodging corporation, my harem of prostitutes won’t see to themselves, they’re just so needy” ………….okay yes that was uncalled for but it was sort of called for because of the ultimate point I’m trying to make here: if you’ve never been in the position you’re criticising, your opinion’s just as improvable as that of the person in that position. These are not opinions, its a bitch war based on nothing and its ultimately pointless.

And you’re buying into it guys! The paper has two pages to fill here, you’re being used as a tool to fill that space here goading you into a formless unopinion. I guarantee you they go looking for shit like this to fill this page and make shit up to tempt these opinions out of you and prod the ensuing argument with a stick. I bet they have templates that look like this:

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So yeah: in short: this “Who’s Got the Best opinion” is a crappy game, stick with something more fun. Like chess.

…you think I’m joking but I’m actually being serious, that’s how much of a fucking slog these pages are.

#METROBLOG: Click the Shiny headline for lolnews

Something’s occurred to me: I bash the print Metro a lot but since I’m a caveman luddite I should probably take a passing look at what most of the normal up to date commuters might be looking at if they have nothing better to do on their train ride: the Metro’s web strand.

I don’t know why anyone would look at the Metro’s online strand at all, let alone on their commute. I don’t think anyone voluntarily reads the Metro in print form, just picks up because there’s nothing else to do while sat upright in a moving vehicle for 30 minutes to an hour. And if you have a tablet with internet access on the train, chances are you’d be doing anything other than thumbing through webpages from a news source designed to be barely read by people with only a vague interest in it because guess what? The internet contains everything in the whole wide world ever! And its on tablets now! ….so why are you reading this and not ANYTHING ELSE?

Yeah the Metro’s online strands serves basically no purpose, I’d wager I’m the first person to ever click on their address, I feel like an archaeologist venturing into uncharted territory here…yeah of course I’m kidding but if you do read the metro online, ask yourself: why? You’ve got thousands of other choices of what to look at on your commute. The Metro is made and printed for one specific purpose where its free and there is no other available media so you think “well why not? and skim over the headlines and first sentence, whereas here….you’ve got every piece of other available media ever on a tablet, why would you do that?

So what I’m gonna do is look at the top 5 trending articles over my lunch break and see if we can build a rough guide to what you’ll typically see on the Metro’s web strand and see if we can figure out what makes it stand out over say Buzzfeed, Yahoo news and so on and whether a digital commuter paper is a concept that doesn’t collapse in on itself and merge into a quantum singularity.

Trending Articles at 12:28pm on Friday the 28th of February

metrotrendingUm…so yeah, what are you thinking print Metro strand? Ukraine updates? Some major terrorism incident in the middle east? No, man has sex with a goat BUT did ask first.

Yeah I think the purpose of this might be to gauge the sort of story they should pay the most attention to in the print edition the next day to see what their readers actually want to look at. Problem with that is the internet is kind of base in nature so if you do use it in that way, you’re basically picking up a channel 5 documentary in print at the station next day. EEEEERGH!! LOOK AT THIS GROSS FREAK!!! More on page 5!

I mean yahoo news and buzzfeed do similar stuff but since the Metro’s webstrand also do your bog standard internet tricks of eye catching words then maybe yeah its just another of those sites with shiny headlines you might click on. Is that a bad thing though because unlike print metro where a lot of the time interesting headlines are pot luck, here its at least eyebrow raising, its not boring. And yes you laugh at it, so trending articles of a base nature are a shortcut round the boring dross of the print edition. Despite the fact yes it sounds funny on the surface but if you actually look at this you might accidentally picture in your mind’s eye what this story is and its kind of….gross.

metrogoatYeah thanks for the cute picture of the goat with a wide angle lens coupled with a story about a man penetrating a goat with his penis Metro, that’s a mental image I want to muse on.

So yeah, the Metro’s online edition’s main appeal is exactly the same appeal as the rest of the internet: look at this slightly amusing news story for about five seconds, this headline has something weird in it, divert eyeballs here. I think the only tag for this article being “bizarre” definitely sums up the Metro online strand’s general appeal. There’s a student addicted to ketchup, that’s weird, goatsex, eeeergh!!! Gross!! Can you imagine?

Thing is though these stories don’t even have to be true, no one’s exactly going to phone the local authorities in Dutse to see if its true that some guy liked to have sex with goats. I think I’ve got the formula down now.

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Divert your eyeballs here viewers!