If you were on Twitter last night, or trying to access the BBC website between about 10.45pm and 11.45pm you'll have noticed all of the BBC's services and websites went offline. At which point the whole online world went into an almighty flap. But one man's downtime is another man's opportunity and in rushed Channel 4's Krishnan Guru-Murthy with this cheeky little Tweet at his former Newsround paymasters' expense:
We're all guilty of typos of course and we're sure Guru-Murthy's tweet was sent in a spirit of bonhomie, but it is a timely reminder that you dabble with schadenfreude at your peril.
For the record, if you tried to visit Channel.com/news you got a 'Page Not Found' error. But then, you could get one of those on the BBC.
No sooner had Radiohead announced they were launching a newspaper than the Guardian responded - by releasing a record; a cover version no less of the Radiohead song Creep, featuring Alan 'Crazy Fingers' Rusbridger on keyboards... and a banjo player, just like the original.
Now, I think I probably want to read Radiohead's newspaper about as much as I want to listen to the Guardian's music, so we'll call it a dead-heat in the one-upmanship stakes.
However, as publicity stunts go it's a nice touch. So if you feel inclined, you can listen to it here.
No of course you haven't.
So why, in the name of all that's holy would Burley ever think this scene, described in her first novel - called First Ladies - was a good idea?
"At that exact moment, Julian was expertly using his silver tongue to offer intense gratification to Sally as he held on firmly to her taut, tanned thighs, tightly gripped around his handsome face. Lithe and muscular, he effortlessly lifted her from the bed and onto his broad shoulders. Sally felt all the excitement and exhilaration of a fairground ride as he continued to offer intense pleasure before she was finally sated and he lowered her gently back onto the round bed."
Anyway, enough of this sexy talk. I'm off to sandpaper my eyes.
And that pool of sick won't clean itself up.
Meanwhile, First Ladies is out soon but can be pre-ordered on Amazon where it has already been slashed to just £5.99 - should you be stuck for a birthday present for somebody you really hate.
(Hat tip Guardian's Media Monkey.)
By now you will almost certainly have seen the breaking news which has been top story on the South Wales Argus all morning. It's a timely reminder that there are things happening each and every day across the UK which barely warrant a mention in our largely London-centric 'national' newspapers:
"The Argus first covered the story of the back-to-front bench in June 2009 when Matthew Pimm, 30, who walks his labrador Buster Alexander twice a day and often passes the bench, said he was at a loss to see why it was put in facing away from the great views."
...oh, so it's not actually been put in 'the wrong way around', as claimed? It's just that if he was installing it a member of the public would probably have put it facing the other way.
Maybe it's not such a big story after all.
Since George Best first raised a glass and posed for the cameras, the fortunes of football and the media have appeared inextricably linked, not just because of their symbiotic relationship but because of their mutual decline. As one struggles for cash, the other drowns in the stuff.
So it was with interest that I downloaded the launch edition of a new quarterly football publication called The Blizzard. Destined for print, apparently, the first edition is digital only.
My first thought was that if I was to launch a new publication today it certainly wouldn't be about football, a sport being put to the sword by its own over-exposure - unless I was in some kind of Brewster's Millions scenario.
But from the outset it's clear The Blizzard is intent on doing things very differently, not least because it is wilfully ignoring notions of how football is currently covered in the 21st century media. It seems intent on engaging a particular, more thoughtful niche of football fans who may have long sinced shunned much of the generally poor coverage of the sport in the mainstream media.
"I'd been frustrated for some time by the constraints of the mainstream media and in various press-rooms and bars across the world, I'd come to realise I wasn't the only one who felt journalism as a whole was missing something, that there should be space for more in-depth pieces. Was there a way, I wondered, to accommodate articles of several thousand words? Could we do something that was neither magazine nor book..."
And The Blizzard certainly has depth at 184 pages. Issue Zero - a trial digital pilot edition - boasts 25 articles, essays, features and one token interview, many of which run to well over a thousand words. Its website also makes clear that it is keen to distance itself from the kind of 'news' reporting which recently so tarnished even the reputation of The Guardian's sports desk:
"With newspapers determined to prove they have access bloggers don't, the lust for quotes, no matter how banal, and the desire for "news", which often means nothing more than "a rumour that can't instantly be disproved", has overwhelmed all else, and it's getting worse.
There are none of the spoonfed puff-pieces which pass for sports coverage in the papers and football magazines, arranged and orchestrated by the PR departments of energy drinks manufacturers or sportswear brands in which overpaid, overrated footballers are asked open-goal questions about how great their fans are, or how much they want to win the league, the derby or their next match, or why they support a particular initiative being run by said big brand.
In fact, The Blizzard has acknowledged that in search of insight and interest for the intelligent football fan the quest should probably neither start, nor end with players, past or present. Instead they have enlisted a who's who of lauded football writers whose best work to date has existed predominantly in volumes of football writing devoured by fans who've long suspected the world game carries a richer cultural and social significance than the back pages and supplements of their weekend papers let on.
Some of the articles in The Blizzard are fairly eclectic, esoteric, self-indulgent in places - no doubt "wanky" if you asked many a football fan. But they are also very well written and thought-provoking.
For example, the excellent Simon Kuper (author of Football Against the Enemy and Ajax, The Dutch and the War among others), never one to duck theories on football's wider relevance, serves up an examination of the decaying identity of Dutch football and charts its decline against the crumbling notion of famed Dutch liberalism. A rise of ugly football (pictured right: Nigel De Jong tries to kill Spain's Xavi Alonso in the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final), he suggests may be inextricably linked to a rise of ugly politics.
In terms of look and feel, The Blizzard looks brilliant on an iPad - simply navigating the online version, rather than a dedicated app - and when imported into iBooks it works like a dream. This should sound a major clue to the publishers as to how they will find a longevity and a business model befitting their ambitions.
There is no doubting there is an audience for this kind of writing and quarterly volumes feel about right in terms of keeping the writing fresh. A 'pay what you think it's worth' subscription model is hopefully a gimmick which doesn't come back to haunt them and could even prove a money-spinner given football's total lack of perspective where pound signs are concerned. If Fernando Torres is worth £50m then The Blizzard is worth at least a tenner (though I confess I only paid £3 for the pilot edition, I will pay more for June's Issue 1).
There is also a clear sense the people behind The Blizzard are doing it for love first, financial gain second - or possibly even a distant third. Wilson said:
"The priority is the product rather than profit, so we will not go chasing readers; the aim, rather, is to remain true to our ethos and to provide an alternative to that which already exists."
However, there's no shying away from the fact that any new media launch is fraught with risk. A final factor which unites football and the media remains the risk of career ending injury. The likes of Marco Van Basten and Matthias Sammer will attest to the fact that even unrivalled quality is no guarantee of longevity.
I wish the team behind The Blizzard the very best of luck.
For all its scale and worldwide renown it's good to see the BBC hasn't lost sight of the stories which really matter in the local community, such as this scoop from its website today:
"Thieves have stolen an 18kg frozen kebab from a takeaway outlet at Trowbridge railway station. The massive block of meat... was taken from La Capricciosa between 0230 GMT and 1400 GMT on Saturday. The haul, valued at about £400, included bags of frozen chips and onion rings and 500 polystyrene kebab trays."
It actually gets better (unlike anybody who's subsequently eaten this second-hand meat treat; who may never get better)...
"Anyone offered kebab meat in suspicious circumstances is asked to contact British Transport police.
Now, I can honestly say I've never had a kebab that wasn't suspicious, from the provenance of the meat to the less-than-convincing 'University of Food Hygiene' certificate behind the counter.
But best of all is the quote from the local Trowbridge CID:
"Det Sgt Jon Rawson said: "If you are aware of anyone who has recently come into possession of kebab meat, or may perhaps be offering kebabs for sale when they are not usually in that line of business, we would appreciate your call."
Happens all the time right? You go out with your mates and there's just something a bit different about Terry. Perhaps he's had a haircut, maybe he's lost a bit of weight. He could be looking a bit distracted... or maybe it's the fact he's selling doner kebabs out the back of his Ford Transit.
There's a great front cover typo from Tails magazine (no, I hadn't either) doing the rounds on Twitter (courtesy of Lee Unkrich):
Richard Littlejohn's latest column opens with these words:
"No one with a shred of humanity can fail to be moved by some of the pictures coming out of Japan..."
It's not so much an intro, more a caveat, because Littlejohn goes on to reveal his trademark lack of humanity, dressed up in a "what would my grandfather have made of all this sympathy towards the Yellow Peril" kind of mindfart.
He goes on:
"It is wrong to visit the sins of previous generations on their modern descendants..."
Come on, we all know it's coming.
Littlejohn can be considered the Sir Mix-a-Lot of journalism, such is his love of big 'buts'. They inevitably act as the fulcrum for so many of his articles (to paraphrase: 'I'm not racist, but...'; 'I'm not homophobic, but...'; 'I do sympathise with the people of Japan, but...').
Never one to be predictable (chortle) Littlejohn on this occasion keeps us on our toes by eschewing the 'but' in favour of a more pensive 'yet' - the tease - but the set-up is still the same:
"Yet many surviving members of the Burma Star Association still harbour deep animosity to everyone and all things Japanese, 65 years after VJ Day..."
OK, here we go...
"They won't want to be associated with the expressions of sympathy over the earthquake and tsunami. And who can blame them?
Blah, blah, blah...
"Like thousands of other British servicemen who were tortured in Japanese prisoner-of-war camps, my wife's late grandfather, Harold Tuck, would never have joined a minute's silence for Japan..."
Yada, yada, yada...
"Were he alive today, he would have remained doggedly in his seat...
Guff, guff, guff...
"I often wonder what our fathers and grandfathers would have made of modern Britain's ghastly cult of sentimentality and vicarious grief...
Rant, rant, rant...
"These days we'd have a minute's silence if Harry Redknapp's dog got run over...
You get the idea.
Geography has never been a strength of Fox News and it appears it has let them down once again as this map of nuclear reactors in Japan, which includes one right in the centre of Tokyo called SHIBUYAEGGMAN, shows (screengrab from Media Matters for America):
And what's more Shibuya Eggman does NOT appear on the International Atomic Energy Agency's list of nuclear reactors.
Because it isn't one.
Shibuya Eggman is in fact a nightclub, which would have celebrated its 30th anniversary last Sunday, had it not been for safety concerns after the recent earthquake.
In fact, the dance venue was so concerned at being identified as the location of a nuclear power plant that it has recently inserted an English explanation for its customers on its website:
"Shibuya Eggman has no nuclear plant. Our electricty's powered only by music."
So Twitter is five years old (they grow up so quickly these social media platforms!).
In that time it has undoubtedly fuelled major changes in the relationship - and arguably the balance of power - between the media and the public. This morning, we asked followers of The Media Blog to share their thoughts on Twitter's impact on their media habits. Below is a selectionof those we've received so far...
File this one under 'Figures of speech which later take on a vaguely ironic twist'. Asked by the Guardian in June 2010, whether he would consider producing television shows for the BBC, Midsomer Murders producer Brian True-May said he wouldn't as the corporation has "too many chiefs and not enough Indians".
David Mitchell has used his Observer column this week to air an apparent grudge against that most malicious and manipulative of UK media outlets... the Radio Times.
Mitchell goes so far as to suggest the publication is actually "stitching up" the people it interviews beneath a headline which warns: "Beware the jolly journalists who add a splash of mischief to their interviews".
Mitchell's central argument revolves around the treatment of Brian True-May, executive producer of Midsomer Murders, who sparked controversy this week when comments he made to the Radio Times explaining the lack of diversity among the Midsomer cast exploded into a full blown 'Midsomer race row' played out across national newspapers, television and online.
But this appears also to be a topical segue into a tale Mitchell was keen to tell about an interview he himself did with the Radio Times in January.
Apart from sharing some baseless speculation about what may or may not have happened in a separate Radio Times interview with Joanna Lumley, it is his own experience, he says, which makes him sure the publication is "stitching-up" the people it interviews:
"...in January, I was interviewed by the Radio Times... A few days later... I discovered that, according to a newspaper website, I'd "taken a pop at the Today programme". It's "very self-important and sometimes you want it to be taken down a peg or two", I'd told the Radio Times. Then I remembered the interview – a jolly chat with a nice man... I doubt I was misquoted – that's the sort of thing I might say... But, if I'd really wanted to say it, I'd have written it here."
So Mitchell isn't suggesting he was misquoted. He just thinks it poor form that certain opinions he shared - but didn't necessarily feel that strongly about - were drawn out in an informal interview, made it into print and were picked up elsewhere (possibly fuelled by a Radio Times press release). But given the interview was apparently arranged so Mitchell could plug his own politics and current affairs show, what was the reporter supposed to do when he said something critical of the Today programme?
By Mitchell's own admission interviewees may be gifting the Radio Times these stories through their own ill-discipline:
"With the Daily Telegraph, Sun and Media Guardian all done, I was pleased to hear that the next interviewer was from the Radio Times. I relaxed."
So surely the moral of this story appears not so much 'beware the stitch-up' as Mitchell began but more a case of 'if you don't want to be quoted saying something, best not to say it, especially to a journalist, no matter how nice they appear to be'.
A good question here, posed by the Daily Mail:At the time of writing, 73 per cent of readers had voted that 'Yes' is indeed an age at which children should not have their own television. (Hat tip @bellamack and others.)
The Mail actually has previous when it comes to setting these kinds of flawed polls. See also: Decisions, decisions...
Is this the most mean-spirited story of the past week?
It should have been a good news story. An apparently good natured, rather luckless soul, Matthew Breach, 37, won nearly £18m on the lottery, allowing him to give up his £20,000 job as a lorry driver and go on his first holiday in 20 years. But the Daily Mail couldn't settle for simply reporting his good fortune, they got their knives out and went looking for an ex-girlfriend of Breach called Kerry Graves who he had split with three years ago after a 14 year relationship.
Breach has no complaint with Graves, he says their split "was just one of those things", they "just grew apart" and remain "good friends". Graves even texted Breach to congratulate him on his win.
Despite this the Mail's attack dogs wanted to ensure they really rubbed her nose in Breach's winnings:
"…as Matthew Breach yesterday celebrated his £17.8million lottery win, Kerry Graves may well have been wishing she'd tried a teeny bit harder to salvage their relationship."
Before turning really nasty:
"Miss Graves, 31, is out of work and lives in a dingy bedsit with her new partner Travis Mains-Marten and their baby Blake. He ran an internet cafe in Hastings, near their home in Bexhill, East Sussex, but it closed down last year."
Yeah, that'll teach her!
Earlier this week you may have spotted a lovely little animal story on the Guardian website, reporting that monkeys at Longleat Safari Park were given a car to dismantle (as is their wont) as a special treat to mark the imminent reopening of the tourist attraction.
Now clearly this is a product of what Guardian journalist Nick Davies branded 'churnalism' - the use of spoonfed PR materials, in this case to publicise the reopening of Longleat - to fill space.
Often 'churnalism' is attributed to the under-resourcing of newsdesks and a lack of investment in quality journalism. So you could say, in the case of this story, it is quite literally a case of 'pay peanuts, get monkeys'.
As Media Blog reader Steve Jackson asked in a Tweet to the Guardian: "Do you really think that the monkey removed the fan blade?"
But we'll forgive them, because it's got cute monkeys doing funny stuff and who doesn't want to see that?
The Daily Mail has published a photo online in which you can quite clearly see that former page 3 model Nicola McLean is wearing a very short dress, and has no underwear on. (And by "quite clearly" I mean that if you zoom in close enough.)
Dan Wootton took time off from beavering away as News of the World showbiz editor to post a screenshot.
Go to the story now, however, as this screenshot shows, and the area in question has been photoshopped.
They've also changed the caption to read "the image has been pixellated to protect her modesty" (I'm not sure they've protected it that well to be honest).
Reminds me of that time they ran a picture of George Osborne's cock.
Last night I got to download and have a play with the Sky News iPad app which launches today. And I have to say, whatever people may think of some of Sky's editorial content, judging it purely on its merits as an iPad app, I liked what I saw in terms of its rich features and functionality.
The sheer volume of content available is very impressive, cannibalising as it does the 24 rolling news content of Sky News, and the opportunity to navigate via a timeline of video reports for each story, and all top stories, is a format which lends itself very effectively to stories which develop around rapidly changing events and angles, such as the unfolding stories in Japan and New Zealand in recent days and weeks:
Video can be watched either within the multiple windows of the Top Stories homepage or on a standalone page which includes a halo of related content and a customised paint which throws up some interesting choices:
A further nice touch is the ability to navigate at any point direct to a live Sky News video stream. And if you realise you've just missed the start of the slot you were tuning in for, missed a key detail, or heard something you can't quite believe, you can rewind 30 seconds of live TV and hear it again. With live TV comes adverts of course, but you can always navigate away during the break to view another news story, such as the radiant Kate Middleton gladhanding members of the public:
The app is free for a trial period and available now.
It was inevitable that events in Japan would reopen debates about the safety of nuclear energy - even before anybody fully knows what the risks and outcomes will be from the ongoing issues in Fukushima.
But that last detail certainly didn't stop a group of anti-nuclear campaigners, calling themselves the Sun Day Campaign, from issuing a press release headlined:
JAPANESE NUCLEAR ACCIDENT – WE TOLD YOU SO
The shouty capital letters were their own, as was the dispensing with time-honoured traditions of 'hating to say I told you so' (without yet having clear justification for such tasteless self-congratulation).
The release was forwarded to the Media Blog by one unimpressed energy journalist who toils in the hope that debate in his industry may one day mature beyond childish point-scoring.
...oh and they also spelled 'Chernobyl' wrong. Durrr!!
Interestingly, according to its press release, the Sun Day Campaign has been "telling us so" since before Chornobyl [sic]. It also tells us it was founded in 1993 - seven years after Chernobyl.
It must be very easy to have such a "told you so" attitude when you're armed with a time machine.