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Author’s note: the copy of the metro I am sourcing is one day out of date.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

scientists
….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.

donkeys

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:

happiness

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.

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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: Real Time Newsprint: St. Jude’s a bitch isn’t he?

I find stuff like this interesting because I’m a nerd for journalistic technique and if you don’t it probably means you have a life but get this:

Last night the MET office issued a severe weather warning saying there would be the worst storm the UK has seen in three years….or five years….or since 1987 depending on which news outlet that misheard the story you happened to be reading. Following that, most of the UK’s train companies issued a statement to the effect that all services would be cancelled between midnight and 9AM. So the free paper for commuters the Metro had quite an interesting route for its Monday morning edition open to them. The morning paper for the trains is specifically meant to be designed for the harrassed commuting office worker and now they had a glaringly obvious real life issue that would affect their readers that they could print about to try and make themselves seem relevent to their target audience. And boy did they go for this one:

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Since I went in to the station at 9AM and found a note scrawled by rail staff saying the 9AM limit on trains had been pushed back to 11 and found about twelve commuters that had bothered to hang around I also found the pile of copies of the Metro virtually untouched. Now I’m at home writing this blog and this copy of the Metro is precisely what I’ve been saying this paper should be since the beginning because they’ve themed almost every article in their opening few pages around weather and commuter misery and transport. How awesome is that?

This showed that in the age of instant smartphone updates, print media can still actually have some relevence to its audience as they go about their lives. The morning paper for London commuters is meant to be a comforting read. You’re depressed that about a fifth of your income goes on actually getting to work, you might have work problems or are just finding it hard to wake up, the morning paper is meant to socialise you again at that time of day. The only problem is printing media takes time and tailoring it to your audience even more effort to broaden your scope as there are quite a lot of people that could potentially read this. Yet here they had a firm warning for something that would affect commuters’ lives so they could tailor their news to be able to talk to commuters about their problems in real time and that front page article is so conversational in tone I’d say its exactly the sort of front page the Metro should be printing. If it was any other newspaper I’d complain it shouldn’t be front page news but here its highly relevent to their target audience.

So that got me thinking: why stop at the weather? The morning paper could speak to the reader about their daily life and act as that socialising comfort on a regular basis. The life of your average commuter is very bland and generic, you can’t get out of audience tailoring just because there’s a lot of them; life working in London isn’t thaaaat different for most people. Example, here is a list of keywords I regularly come across in my daily life as a london office worker:

Rail, travel, weather, coffee, underground, office, chair, desk, computer, wages, expenses, invoice, spreadsheet, meeting, email, logistics, lift, notes, folder, filing, minutes, accounts, lunch break, kettle, enquiry, phone call, numbers, calculator, etc

Most of these words could potentially apply to just about anyone.

So what you could easily do is construct a piece of news print that can speak to thousands of people but appear to be personal to them as they’re reading it which would be quite extraordinary and seriously unlike any piece of print media you would ever read. Just stick a few more keywords into this and you’ve basically got: PAPER FOR COMMUTERS. You can relate to their lives and go “Yeah your life is boring but here’s some interesting stuff we found on the internet” Its what the Metro’s really for but I just feel they could make their stories more personal. For example this is the front page for my fictional paper that speaks to commuters in real time:

yourpaper

METROBLOG: TV spoilers in Newspapers: No it is not okay and here is why

gameofthrones3

….see Metro editors, was writing that sentence really that hard?

No seriously, if you’ve invested any emotional involvement in Game of Thrones and haven’t seen the latest episode yet, look away now.

I’m not kidding, major spoiler in the below picture taken from inside the front cover on page 3 of the metro today taking up not just an off handed tiny paragraph article about frivilous entertainment, FULL FUCKING PAGE

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…..gee, thanks for that Metro writers. I didn’t have time to watch the new episode anyway, so I guess it’s just as well that you’ve told me what happens and all the characters that die so I don’t even have to bother. Well done Metro writers for making me seriously stop caring about a show I liked……urgh.

Seriously, the idea of “SPOILER WARNING” has become kind of a pre-requisite when talking about a twist in a movie or a book or something so why the hell did this not occur to the writers when going “hmm, a massive plot twist has been provoking strong reactions from fans, let’s put it on the fucking inside cover in massive font with pictures”.

I mean the Metro have an online presence, surely they’re familiar with the concept of a Spoiler warning. If you reveal a twist and someone had yet to watch the thing with the twist without going “oh yeah spoiler warning”, people are going to grill you alive for it, this is about as obvious as two plus two equals four and that Michael Gove has a face like a squished pumpkin. The fact it was so massive and obvious and you can’t avoid it…it can’t have been an accident. So I refuse to believe publishing a massive article like this was a mistake and they didn’t think people who hadn’t had the chance to watch it yet would have it spoiled for them. Publishing the words “THREE CHARACTERS KILLED OFF IN BRUTAL TWIST” next to a picture of Catelyn with a knife at her throat stood next to Robb…there is no way that was an accident. Seriously was I supposed to just look away the second I reached page 2 and realized it was about Game of Thrones and revealing a massive twist when I hadn’t got to that bit in the series yet?

No. This was an antagonistic move. It must have been. There is no chance it wasn’t. This article is pretty much this:

gameofthrones

Well, the intention might not have been that word for word, but it feels like that.

The Metro have actually published an article related to this, it says it was published yesterday so it must have been written as this editorial decision was made so yes, their intention was to ruin it for people because hell, was it utterly necessary this ran in a massive eye catching article on page 3 where you can’t avoid it if you happen to want to?

http://metro.co.uk/2013/06/04/after-game-of-thrones-red-wedding-when-is-a-spoiler-a-spoiler-3828216/

The gist of the justification for this is, if you care about a series enough to avoid spoilers you should have been up to date with it and anyway and besides, in an online age, you’re just one click away from a spoiler so if you don’t know about it and are pissed off, pftt, sucks to be you NERNERNERNER!!!! Seriously what twats.

I’m okay with papers going “oh my God did you see Game of Thrones last night?” Its a watercooler talking point yes and its okay to discuss it in a newspaper but….well yeah, this is a newspaper…its supposed to, y’know, talk about important things….especially right at the front in a massive headline. If this was in a small article in the entertainment section where its easily avoidable if you want to avoid it then fine but LOOK!!! THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS!! IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN IT YET THEN YOU’RE OBVIOUSLY AN IDIOT!!

Yes, if you’re invested, you should be up to date…in principle, but that demands the concept that people who are invested don’t have…um….FUCKING LIVES? I get barely enough time to sit down and have a cup of tea over the week as it is, let alone sit in front of Game of Thrones for an hour, I’m surprised I’m as far through it as I am. “oh you’re gonna run into spoilers anyway” yes I see your argument but that doesn’t mean you should fucking provoke it by out and out shouting “LOOK AT THE DEAD CHARACTERS!!” you don’t NEED to publish this in this place in the paper, it is not vital you publish it here even if your vapid excuse that everyone who cares will have already seen it did hold water, because it doesn’t. This aired a couple of days ago, there is no fucking excuse for this.

This was an ambush. How the fuck was I supposed to know that a major spoiler for Game of Thrones would be right there in my morning paper you stupid pricks?

In a perfect world, the amount of complaints that the Metro should rightfully get over this, tomorrow their page three article should look like this

gameofthrones2

I mean yeah I’m going to keep reading the Metro to write my stupid blog about it but seriously, this was not okay and…actually no I’m not backing down on this one, they should publish an article just as big tomorrow saying “WE ARE VERY SORRY”.

And you may say I’m overreacting because hell, the book’s been out since 2000 and I’m doing the lazy thing watching the series first. I am reading the books though, I’ve finished watching season 2 and saving season 3 till I’ve at least finished the second book (of which I’m about a quarter of the way through at time of writing). I’m just catching up and so are lot’s of people and this wasn’t fair.

Alright, I will admit that I am culpable for spoiling stuff in the past. I have openly mocked people with spoilers for the Harry Potter films because believe it or not some people were actually watching the films without having read the books. I did that because the Harry Potter books are easy reads, you can get through all of them in about two weeks, it took me a weekend to read the seventh one. It just boggled my mind that people could be so lazy as to not bother with the books but bother with the films when without the books, the films are really kind of weak. Game of Thrones is a different matter as for one thing both books and series are equally strong, and Game of Thrones doesn’t have the appeal or similar audience as Harry Potter and is mostly growing in popularity recently because of the TV series and spoiling it like this….seriously, who the hell decided this was a good idea?

Its not as though they thought “oh yeah, everyone invested in Game of Thrones at the moment will know that Catelyn and Robb die” because this twist isn’t well known or famous like some twists are. Some twists are famous for being well known and spoiled, like say the ending of Planet of the Apes….the twists’s kind of right there on the poster.

Hmm…I wonder what planet this Planet of the Apes might be?

And yes, I get the argument that when does it stop becoming a spoiler as noted in this article of stupid base crass generalizations. How long should you leave it? Should I be annoyed if someone spoils say the end of the Sopranos, a series from years ago, that you haven’t got to yet? The article says no…it doesn’t offer any concrete reason for saying no but I on the other hand say that if someone was midway through a series boxset and didn’t want to know the end then I’d probably show some common fucking courtesy if people still haven’t got to it yet and keep quiet about it to them. Its not about “if you’re invested you’d have seen it already” its about being fucking polite.

Yes I would put a timestamp on it. If something like Planet of the Apes has such a famous twist and has been out for nearly half a century, its okay. If something came out the other day and you’re ambushing people with it on their way to work; that’s what makes you a dick. Fuck you whoever decided this was a good idea and fuck you for this pathetic justification for it. This article was just going “NERNER!! You haven’t got there yet slowpoke!”

Eat a bag of dicks you dicks.

ZoneOneRadio – #ZoneOneDigest – That’s All Faulks! @z1radio

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This is ZoneOneDigest, the best of the week on ZoneOneRadio, the mayor of london funded community radio station for Central London. Its presented by a snarky hobgoblin called Stuart Hardy, who this week was submerged in formal complaints and ofcom forms throughout the show. While he deals with them, you get to listen to:
#LondonLife bring a special interview with Sebastian Faulks about Cityread London

#LondonGP chat about sponsorship in Motorsport with Samuel Cork from Gulf Oil

#WorldwideRoutes host David Bailey continues to prove how much better he is than the rest of us at hosting radio shows

And #InGoodTaste talk to Two Hungry Girls, auteurs of innovative Chinese supper clubs around London

Enjoy!

www.twitter.com/5tuarthardy and www.twitter.com/z1radio
www.ZoneOneRadio.com
www.facebook.com/ZoneOneRadio

Breaking News: Jack and Jill went up a hill to fetch a pail of water!

Okay, I don’t want this blog to mutate into consistent bitterness and smugness because that’s what you expect of me and it’s what I’m generally known for. I want to be seen as encouraging. And today’s “Metro in Focus” article was encouraging. For those unaware, the “Metro in Focus” page spread usually discusses social issues and uses some very shaky statistics to back up their opinions without proper citations so you know what they’re saying is correct. For a very basic example, here’s one from last week which I forgot was still by my desk and I hadn’t chucked out yet.

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Women in the workplace and sexual bias, specifically in the Indian job market, yeah, big issue, effects loads of people, good, important, and interesting. Lots of pie charts and official respectable looking fact stuff. Usually this page spread is dedicated to issues felt by normal regular life-having people. Relationships, sex, girly emotions and stuff that as a sociopathic emotional retard I can’t understand. Today’s issue of Metro Focus was less important to say the least.

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….it’s about Mario’s brother Luigi. As in Mario and Luigi from the video games about a duo of Italian plumbers that save a princess who’s been kidnapped by a spiked turtle named Bowser in a kingdom of Mushrooms. The writer of this article uses facts about Luigi’s involvement in the Mario franchise to draw parallels between Luigi and relations between siblings in the real world. At no point in the publication of this morning’s Metro did anyone look at each other and go “wait a second, we’re actually seriously discussing the social aspects of Luigi…the brother of the guy that jumps on turtles in a video game? Why the fuck are we dedicating a two page spread to this?”

I especially love one of the thought bubble quotes used here. Usually they say things like “over 80% of women feel that men are stupid heads” or “at least 90% of men think their penis is a magic wand”. Whereas in the case of a special report about Luigi, the brother of Super Mario, one of their thinking points is:

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….extra! extra! Luigi stuck it in princess Daisy! Fictional character produced by computer graphics has sex with other fictional character produced by computer graphics! Metro Focus!

Contrary to how sarcastically I’m taking this unnecessary bit of fluff, I’m overjoyed that “The Metro” writers understand how not ready morning commuters are to face big burning questions about relationships, sexuality and discrimination that Metro Focus usually talks about. The Metro would be much more enjoyable if its news topics were about fictional characters:

jackandjill

Or maybe:

three blindmice

Or something more inventive. I’m thinking of writing to The Metro and suggesting they turn next week’s worth of papers into a fantasy serial about talking dolphins. Anything but this serious news shit they keep insisting on every day of the bloody week.

Weather News: It’s Dreadful, isn’t it?

So it was snowing when I cycled to the station today. Nothing really out of the ordinary except the fact that it’s fucking March. The end of March. So far towards the end of March it’s practically June. This is not how things should be. It’s like life’s turned into Game of Thrones…not the sex and dragons stuff, the fact winter never ends. So you can gather why I immediately thought “I bet the front cover of the Metro will be something along the lines of “WEATHER IS BAD AND MOTORISTS SAY IT SUCKS” or “HORROR FOR COMMUTERS AS MORE SNOW ON THE WAY” or “SNOW IS RUINING MY WEEK SAYS SOME CELEBRITY”. So what have you got for me Metro?

Picture 001

Wow, I must be clairvoyant or something.

The tabloid press gets a lot of really kind of deserved slack for placing such massive importance on “FROZEN FLUFFY WATER FALLS FROM CLOUDS!” as opposed to serious stuff like “PEOPLE IN SUITS IN ROOM TALK ABOUT POLITICS AND STUFF!”

The general mantra of “it’s just a bit of snow, why do we whine so much about it? This is not news, it doesn’t deserve to be in a newspaper”, has been repeated by most people. Although I do think that tabloid newspapers that do it are base and crass, I find it almost comforting in some cases. Granted Newspapers need to do important stuff like politics, death, war, etc but in the case of “The Metro” I believe it to be highly appropriate front page material because as I’ve said before, at seven AM you aren’t in the mood for serious news. You want something nice to look at for half an hour that makes you feel nice.

“The Metro” is something to read on your miserable way through to work. I guarantee that anyone who got a train into London this morning was grumbling about the weather and seeing the front page of the Newspaper share their gripes is comforting. I was reassured to know that the newspaper was agreeing with me for a change.

It’s like when someone comes and tells you that, say; they’ve got a cold or someone said a mean thing about them. They don’t expect you to do anything other than agree with them: “I know, it’s horrible, isn’t it?” At seven AM on your way to work; a newspaper that understands what you grumble about is what we need. However I think the language “The Metro” employs could be a bit more chummy and conversational, something along the lines of this:

BIT NIPPY

Other appropriate topics of conversation for the morning news include:

toe

headache

trains
“The Agreeable News” would be handed out outside tube stations to frowny people who can’t be arsed to go to work. So instead of grumbling about politicians in suits doing stuff and people killing each other somewhere you can’t pronounce the name of; now you can grumble and go “too bloody right” instead. It would foster a sense of community between commuters, it would bring us together if we could share our everyday first world gripes and it might make us happier and more empathetic.

….shutup, it would!