#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Author’s note: the copy of the metro I am sourcing is one day out of date.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: Christmas themed journalism formula

Not all of my journalism deconstruction blogs are necessarily having a go. In the vast field of journalism, there is a place for stuff like this.

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This is one of about a billion features on your bog standard Christmas related things throughout the press at the moment. Christmas present guides, Christmas TV guides, Christmas movies, Christmas songs, and in this case features on Christmas dinner. Journalists at this time of year are under the pressure to try and yet again repackage what they sold you last year because its Christmas and everyone will be affected by all this stuff every year so you’re pretty much guaranteed the reader’s attention just by writing about these things in the first place. And that’s not a bad thing, journalism should on a very base level find common ground between writer and reader and for the most part, journalistic features on Christmas content achieves this fine, even though its fairly obvious that two thousand and thirteen years of  Christmases leaves journalists hopelessly struggling for new ideas.

At least here in this article, these food bloggers are acknowledging here that “yes, Christmas dinner is a turkey, roast potatoes etc, nothing new” and are trying to present Christmas cooking from a different angle. Thing is though, feature writing at Christmas, for newspapers and magazines all run on the same formula no matter what its talking about.  Reading the Metro’s life and style section during any other month really isn’t all that different, except now it all comes under the banner of Christmas.

So to to demonstrate this formula, I’m gonna swap out Christmas for another random day and write it from that perspective as though it were Christmas

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As you can see, holiday coverage is pretty interchangeable….admittedly the duck billed platypus is a protected species so I doubt August the 17th day would take off, I’m just using it as a general example….that and I’m not sure what day the first ammonite fossil was discovered so…..you get my point yeah? Good, good. let’s just leave it at that.

Happy 25th of December everyone.

METROBLOG: The language of Smear Campaigns: Higella and David Cameron

scan0001I finally found a journalism topic related to the Higella story! At last!

Wow this is a huge story to cover as literally everyone’s weighing in on it. It was only a matter of time but the Higella fraud/drug case is finally featuring in my Metroblog. Let me just say to begin with its not my intention to slander anyone but a lot of famous people have said really dubious things not realising the connotations and…well everyone’s looking silly and I’m here to rip the guts out of a story and plaster them across my blog so I’m going to do just that. Unfortunately for you though the interesting bit for me has barely anything to do with Higella herself and what she may or may not have done and we have a few other stories to go over to get there, mostly politics related (I apologise in advance).

So yeah: In the wake of the Daily Mail snooping around and finding out “holy shit, Ed Milliband’s Dad had left wing beliefs? That means we can go on about how he thought it was nice and happy that people died in gulags under Stalin and how he liked to step on puppies, Red Ed Milliband likes communists!”and tried to start a smear campaign that humongously backfired for them. Since that happened, some interesting smear campaigns based on actual recent events have arisen around his immediate rival, our PM David Cameron, and its much less the media’s fault as it is Cameron’s fault himself.

I don’t know what’s up with David Cameron lately, maybe his childminders are away on holiday. He was part of the happy selfie at Nelson Mandela’s funeral, and now he says “I’m on team Nigella” referring to the fraud case regarding Nigella Lawson and whether she’s a coke addict……..you do know you technically just endorsed cocaine there, right David? Am I wrong here? She did admit she did cocaine to get over her divorce and allegedly did illegal stuff, so saying you’re on Team Nigella technically means “I believe cocaine is a viable way of dealing with personal problems” says British Prime Minister David Cameron. Wow. Fucking Wow is that a cock up.

Then I saw this in the Metro:

scan0002Okay, so a high court judge has ruled that we should ignore David Cameron….okay, yes I know not really but that’s what you’re implying by leading with that headline and the way that article’s been written (and by the way its so clear his aides were phoning up papers late at night begging and waving chequebooks for this story to be printed very small).

Holy shit would that make an awesome campaign poster for any opposing party, wouldn’t it? Labour, Liberal, anyone could have a poster that would look like that

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So far as smear campaigns go, its weird how the subject of this theoretical one that could start about our PM’s has had so much work done for it before we start out. And anyone taking anything out of context and slandering can get out of it because language is so easily interpreted. I mean yes, David Cameron probably doesn’t endorse cocaine as a method of dealing with personal problems, though Nigella seems to and thinks that that’s a viable excuse to do class A drugs a few times….which our Prime Minister agrees with….and now a jury’s been told by a judge they should ignore our country’s leader. Yeah, clarity is something our language is severely lacking in. We all know I’m taking things to mean more than I do but when you actually say this chain of events out loud, doesn’t sound great does it? Y’know, unless you’re massively in favour of perscribing cocaine to people with personal problems which some of you may be…..I wouldn’t vote for you though….mind you I wasn’t planning on voting for David Cameron regardless of his endorsement of a TV chef who did cocaine in order to alieve herself of her personal problems.

So yeah, in short, this entire story really just teaches us that the English language can be kind of shit and get a lot of people in trouble for not being able to convey a point.  I was mostly inspired to realise this when I saw the headline, cackled insanely then realised it actually meant fuck all. I’m still bitter. Still if someone wants to go on a messageboard and lie and say they knew David Cameron at Cambridge and he did mounds and mounds of the stuff, it’d be a laugh so feel free.

Happy weekend everyone.

METROBLOG: My Commute to work in pictures

The news has been boring recently. So for some reason (there must have been one…I’m sure it’ll come to me) I decided to take pictures on my commute to work to share with you the environment my derranged news analysis and piss taking blogs are written in until something interesting happens in world or national events.

Note: These are only the slightly interesting/sort of in focus ones out of 200 or so pictures.

For my commute from work, turn the brightness down to make it the evening and flick backards

METROBLOG: The Battle of Michael Gove

Recently the Metro’s letters page has devolved into an insult slinging match regarding one rather controversial figure in British politics.

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There’s just something about Michael Gove that gets people riled. I think it’s his face to be honest. He sort of looks like a version of Wallace from Wallace and Gromit that’s been possessed by Satan. I fully expect him to do a full on Exorcist neck twist when he speaks in public. He’s already doing the puking in people’s faces but instead of vomit, he’s puking really dumb legislation proposals.

One day the Metro prints letters and people’s opinions about how much of a prick he is and how he’s messing up the education system, next day its people rebutting that and saying how he’s doing good work, next day its yet more people rebutting that with more about how he’s a prick. The problem with these opinion pages is all they amount to is talking about how the other side is wrong and stupid, neither argument in favour or not in favour of Gove has anything concrete to say on why he’s doing and saying stupid things, it’s just people talking about how opinions counter to theirs are stupid which is not political discussion. “I think you are wrong” is not a qualification, “I think you are wrong because” is a qualification.

If something or someone arouses controversy then that means you don’t have a fact that Michael Gove is an idiot who doesn’t know what he’s doing, you have an opinion that’s just as valid as anyone else’s. The only thing we know is fact about Michael Gove is that he’s a former journalist, now the education secretary, and desperately needs to be catapulted into the sun for being a twat.

…….yeah I think I might be a bit biased…just a little bit.

My opinion’s mainly coloured on the subject of Gove based on his spite towards the teaching profession. If you’ve got no respect for the job, why should you be in charge of it? If you’re labouring under the stereotypical delusion that teachers get to go home early and get long holidays instead of staying late marking and planning lessons and designing projector slides and other shit like that, spending hours having dull pointless meetings and bowing to Ofstead demands and the actual job of teaching kids itself is incredibly difficult and emotionally challenging. You’ve got to put up with all of that in the face of getting paid seriously little for a really tiring and thankless job. There are lots of reasons there’s a teacher shortage at the moment and your clever idea is to increase the paperwork and bullshit procedures and claim that teacher unions are just looking out for their long holidays. Problem is the people that write in offering these rather valid points about how challenging teaching is don’t really articulate their point that well, neither do the opposing parties because, well we don’t seem to be hearing much from teachers themselves.

I especially liked the token “ex-teacher” they had on the letters page the other day saying “I used to be a teacher and can perfectly say its a rather easy job” ………..okay, let’s hear how, when and why you left then? Oh, not going to tell me and just shout about teachers being lazy? Yeah, thought so. We also had the husband of a teacher, someone who’s friends with a teacher. These letters pages are more like a David Attenborough documentary on teaching than any serious discussion. Let us watch the teacher from afar in its natural habitat:

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I have a suggestion: how about everyone with limited involvement with the teaching profession as it stands today, stop claiming to speak for teachers (yes I know how hypocritical that sounds but I’m trying to make a point here).

The problem with the Michael Gove issue is that teachers themselves are not the ones voicing their opinions on the man. We should believe the words of teachers’ unions because they are teachers and have more of a clue what they’re talking about. If you’re going to offer the excuse that they must just be looking out for their long holidays so teachers can’t offer neutral ground on how their profession be run, try and spend an hour teaching a bunch of rowdy 13 year old shits and then we’ll see whose life is harder. Either we hear from the teachers themselves or all this chatter on newspaper opinion pages means about as much as the cute animals section.

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D’awww hes all sad 😦

METROBLOG: How to get noticed in the “rush hour crush” section

The Metro hasn’t printed anything stupid so far this week so all I’ve really got to do is dig into my pile of random points to make about newspapers in general – personal ads.

In case you’re blissfully unaware; personal adverts are like regular adverts but they’re selling human beings to have someone come and fill the empty void in their soul because hell, I may have let all my hopes and dreams die and fester in a tear filled pit at the centre of my soul, but maybe sex with someone aided by a newspaper column will help. Of course we don’t try and make these come across in the papers as depressing as what they are under the surface, no, newspapers are happy and smiley and soooo romantic about it.

scan0001This version of the personal ad is missing something kind of important though. Any chance whatsoever of there being a happy ending as a result of it. They’re titbits of romantic gossip; half ended stories about people eyeing each other up on the train because how the hell are people going to know who they’re talking about? There are no details included except vague hints as in “guy in denim” “was wearing sunglasses”.

I know it’s similar to the Valentine’s Day card being anonymous, but I have similar issues with how the hell people think that sending it and being anonymous will do anything to enhance their chances. Yes you may be shy, but how the hell is anything supposed to happen this way? Why would you waste time texting or emailing in to something with little to no chance of result? “well maybe” No! There is no chance of it working, stop deluding yourself.

Okay, let’s say that you take the same train every day during rush hour, are you always in the same carriage? Is everyone in the carriage in the same carriage as always? If so, then why the hell will the girl you like (if she’s there) know that it was you who wrote into the rush hour crush column yesterday and described yourself as “Sunglasses guy”?

You’d have to hope against hope that rush hour crush printed your rush hour crush AND that the object of your crush was reading it that day and didn’t forget about it when she got to work (an absolute certainty) AND be in the same carriage and on the same train AND you’d also have to wear sunglasses every day until she realises it was you and risk looking weird when its pissing it down or grey skied like it usually is.

I mean yes, the idea of putting contact details in a personal ad to make this column actually be productive is a rather difficult idea to approach. If you posted any way to get in touch you’d get people ringing up all hour of the day and night claiming to be her, or if you’re evil like me ringing up at 4AM saying things like “I’m watching you” or “your pet cat was tasty, how’s about a bite to eat?” stuff like that.

My issue is that if you want any chance of this rush hour crush section somehow aiding your desperate bid to get talking to the object of your crush, you need to make it more obvious that it’s you that they should be speaking to. Make an effort. Something like this:

rushhourcrush1Make it obvious its you, otherwise you’ve got no chance.

I don’t actually think these letters are real anyway. They were probably made up by Metro editors as tiny romantic fantasy stories to get some commuters thinking about the romantic delusion of meeting their “one” on the commute. Delusion being the operative word here.

Now, unromantic is a word that’s been used to describe me and yes I have a very poor sense of what is and isn’t romantic. However the concept of two people getting together on the tube or an over ground train is even less likely to me than a chartroom or dating site actually succeeding and not setting someone up with an attractive 24 year old physiotherapist who turns out to be a 47 year old builder called Dave from Kent who has a strange collection of little baby sized shoes.

I’m on the train during rush hour everyday and any time I’ve actually glanced over the carriage I’m in and away from my book, no one has been eying anyone up. Everyone’s either on a kindle, an iphone, a laptop, has book in hand or is staring out of the window looking miserable. If you’ve ever tried to spot someone eying someone up, if you actually found someone doing it then chances are they’re someone else doing this exact same test to see if they can spot a rush hour crush is progress.

If you’re gonna go with the vague conceit that people actually do find their one true love on their commute in the fifteen to twenty minutes you have with them in a carriage as an interesting story for people to lose themselves in, why stick to love stories? I’m up for a more imaginative personal ad section. Change the genres occasionally. One week we have romance personal ads, next week we could have sci-fi or horror personal ads? They’re all stories here, who cares what’s real and what isn’t?

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METROBLOG: Inappropriate advert placements in newspapers: yay or nay?

PLEASE NOTE: The author does not wish to make light of recent events surrounding the death of April Jones and has the deepest sympathy for her parents.

Okay, you can sling the word “tasteless” at me all you want but if the Metro can fuck up and be sort of accidentally tasteless, I can use a news article advert placement fuckup to illustrate a point.

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“Oh my God, how will I deal with this horrible tragedy?” “Weeeeell a Starbucks might help”

Seriously, its like ad placements in the metro are done by computer. It immediately just associates something with something else without actually taking context into account. “A depressing article about a tragedy………how about an advert showing people what they should buy to calm down”. I mean you wouldn’t go up to this woman at a funeral holding up a sign saying “DON’T BE SAD!! HAVE A STARBUCKS AND YOU’LL FEEL BETTER!” There is a time and a place to sell stuff, and better articles to put that advert right next to.

I mean yes these companies have to sell stuff but when you’ve got a story about something as horrible as this, it feels a bit insensitive to immediately try and sell you something riiiiiiiiiight the fuck next to it.

I mean it may provide a rather morbid chuckle at how a newspaper editor could be so fucking stupid not to realize that maybe the layout says something in an insensitive way and hell, however morbid, chuckles are a good thing to get from it. That’s what a morning newspaper should do I guess, a little light hearted wake me up but…yeah I don’t think people that have lost their children would really appreciate their story alongside an ad for Starbucks immediately going “BE HAPPY NOW!! BUY STARBUCKS!!.

If you still don’t get where I’m coming from here’s a couple of examples:

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