Notes from down table

Sandy blog: A Waste of time but it earned some brownie points

It’s half past eleven on Monday night and I get an urgent phone call at home from a group apparatchik an almost unheard of occurrence since hard news seemingly ceased to matter to our masters.

Can we set up a live Hurricane Sandy blog on the Evening beast website as a matter of urgency? Well yes, of course we can if you really want, but to what purpose?

The main event is going to be over in an hour or so and it’s not as if we’ve got a man on the spot in Wall Street. And even if we did, it’s hardly likely that he’s going to provide better coverage than BBC News, Sky News and CNN, which I’m flicking through as we speak.

(Who would you rather listen to? A holidaying sports sub hiding under his Manhattan hotel bed or a near-suicidal, ruthlessly ambitious bit of telly totty dodging ten-foot waves and flying debris in Atlantic City?)

It’s to show that we can respond quickly to major breaking stories, I’m told. The group chief executive raised the issue in our last Clarity workshop and we’re very keen to show him some results.

Look, I say, trying hard not to snigger at the thought of a ‘Clarity workshop’, we’ve got calls in to the airport, the local travel agents, the Home Office, the local headquarters of two major US companies, the top secret NATO nuclear missile base down the road and the local branch of the Mormon Church.

We’ve Tweeted, we’ve Facebooked and we’ve emailed every New York connection in our contacts books. by half eight in the morning we’ll have plenty of local stuff ready to run, and more will follow as pissed-off and stranded travellers get in touch with their folks back home. It’s covered.

Try blogging now and all you’re going to get for the next eight hours is gobbets of stuff recycled from TV news channels and unverified gossip and faked pictures from social media networks.

It will not be remotely local and it’s a complete and utter waste of time.

So, half an hour later I’m in the office, having dragged from his fetid bedsit the red-eyed twonk who looks after our website, fed him with caffeine and a large bag of Haribo sweets and we’re blogging away, posting gobbets of stuff recycled from TV news channels and unverified gossip and faked pictures from social media networks. And none of it is remotely local and it’s a complete and utter waste of time.

But at least we’ve earned some brownie points for consumption at the next Clarity workshop.

SHOCK HORROR. I have stopped buying the Sun every day, breaking a habit that dates back to the tabloid relaunch under Larry Lamb.

I just feel that it’s lost its joie de vivre, its irreverence and occasional irresponsibility, and is now becalmed in the post-Leveson doldrums.

Perhaps of more interest is the fact that I’ve stopped buying the Daily Telegraph every day as well.

Despite being a passionate advocate of print, i now read it on an iPad instead. For free. Tell me again, how does that business model work?

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