The Grey Cardigan 02.12.05

IT’S MID-MORNING and it’s snowing. The accounts department has already asked to go home.

through the door struggles one of the snappers who lives out in the
sticks. “Terrible journey in,” he complains. “Three inches of snow,
abandoned cars everywhere, kids making snowmen in the road.”

“Great,” says the news editor. “You’ll have some weather pics for us then.”

“Pictures?” says the snapper. “I’ve only just got here. It’ll be at least two hours before I can get out there and back again.”

in his corner glass box, The Beast, our feared and foulmouthed deputy
editor, senses fresh blood and rises malevolently from his chair.

MAD rush to embrace the buzzword of ‘interactivity’ is having an
alarming, if lucrative, impact on the broadcast media. Not a daytime
ITV show passes without an often-contrived quiz (difficulty level:
moron) enticing the single mums and dole scum watching at home to spend
a pound on a phone call or text in the vain hope of winning a holiday.

You know the kind of thing. “Who was married to Prince Charles?

Is it a) Diana, Princess of Wales? b) custard? c) an aardvark?”

understand the economics of the situation, with programmes such as The
X Factor bringing in £350,000 a week in phone revenue, but do we really
want news programmes prostituting their craft just to con a few more
coppers out of the viewers?

I refer, of course, to ITN’s
lunchtime news bulletin where a tiresome vox pop called ‘The Pulse’
dominates proceedings. Perhaps it could be forgiven were the viewer
comments interesting enough to add to the sum of human knowledge, but
they are predictably puerile.

If I want to hear some ill-informed
member of the public pontificate on a subject they know nothing about,
I’ll go to the pub or talk to a newspaper consultant. It is too much to
ask for simple news, factually based and fairly reported? Is that too
much to ask?

STUDENTS OF Dutch architecture will be familiar with
the words of Rem Koolhaas (pictured): “The areas of consensus shift
unbelievably fast; the bubbles of certainty are constantly exploding.”

obviously never read the Daily Mail, where the bubble of certainty
would never dare to burst. You know the sort of thing: working women
are evil, all women are fat, all women need rubbishing on a daily basis
because that’s what they do to each other anyway… But even the Mail has
previously stopped short of giving its readers direct orders, rather
than less-than-subtle direction. Then came last week’s insistent
page-one DVD promotion, which read: “Collect yours from WH Smith today,
or we’ll post the whole collection to your home!”

Yes, Mr Dacre. Right away, Mr Dacre.

OF that wonderful invention the Teasmade in a recent column prompted a
co-conspirator to remind me of our all-time favourite classified ad

The chap in the East Midlands who was trying to sell his
machine was amazed at the response he got from one regional press small

As soon as the paper hit the streets, the phone started ringing and didn’t stop for several days.

such a surprise, perhaps, when you learn that the tele-ad girl had
described the item for sale not as a Goblin Teasmade, but as a
“Gobbling Teasmade”. If only.

You can contact me, should you be minded, at

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