Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Fix in the mix

As part of my daily trawl I try to take in a broad spread of 'leanings', media-editorial-wise. And it can be a hoot to see how some perceptions get shaped.

Take this: Pro-hunting lobby group accused of fixing poll

For a start I found it fun that they were accused of 'fixing' in the headline, but this got downgraded in copy to 'distorting'.

And I loved that there were "suspicions that there was an organised campaign at work", bearing in mind our dealings with the BBC on matters of voting. What, exactly, is the point of such a poll, if you are going to worry about the result of those who care enough to vote investing the time and/or money in distorting the result you want?

It's also worth seeing how others treated the same piece of slooooow news:

Today listeners have voted to scrap the law banning fox hunting.


Today listeners have voted to scrap the law banning fox hunting.


More than half the voters in a Today programme poll wanted to abolish
the law banning fox hunting.


Hunt supporters have swamped a Today poll to discover the law most
people want scrapped.

Spammers are people too!

I write this not as a defence, but an observation. And one that , if there is a cyber-god, can be used to get at these sods.

I had somehow resigned myself to the fact that spamming was an automated evil against which there was no real defence. And that which does not kill you makes you stronger.

But over the last ten days the assaults on my in-box slowed to a trickle. I noticed this more because today they are back.... with a vengeance. And it is worse for me/us, because we also get the bounces from all the spams who have hijacked Yuri@junkk.com to sell their dodgy Russian stock.

I am just hoping this means that if there is a person who switches these things on, there is one who can be got at to stop them.

BA Humbuggers

Shame to start the New Year (Happy, happy, by the way) with an eyebrow heft, but this is a blog after all, and does rejoice in the title '...RE:view'.

If I were to pin myself down to one thing that summed up the last year and, as it was not great to witness, wish to see less of it, it was a lot of folk saying stuff and not doing anything. Or, worse, doing something rather at odds with what they were/are saying.

Though not the best (or worst, to be strictly accurate) example, most topically (as business, NGOs and government were all still abed with an organic hangover), I can cite from yesterday a sample from the media, in the form of our good mates the BBC.

It started laudably enough, with an early news slot filled by a recycled piece from their environment correspondent David Shukman on global warming. Basically a rehash of Al Gore's AIT (An Inconvenient Truth - now out of DVD by the way), it was rather too much more of a familiar same (and not because the repeat). But what to do? The icebergs are melting. Summer is getting hotter. Yadayada. How do you make that message any more grim and relevant?

I'm not sure they did, but they did try and perk it up. And this is where my first twinge in the eyebrow department happened. After about the 5th quick cut per sentence, I realised he was saying the paragraph around the world. Reporter and crew, zooming hither and thither, staying in hotels, renting vans, driving and flying, to say a few words before moving on... courtesy of the world's most fogged in airline. I know it's all about entertainment and it's their jobs (nice if you can get them) to inform, but it was... ironic... that few, if any, of these comments were made in Milton Keynes. Perhaps it's not such a fun place to be at this time of year.

I'm afraid what I was left with was more 'so it's ok for you to fly about, so long is I don't'.

But thus sensitised, the next 'slot' rather compounded the whole thing, to me at least.

In quick succession, we had trailers where a group were filmed saving the rainforest, it seemed mainly by looking at it or from it (nice views at the top) and saying 'Wow', and another lot building a nature refuge (lots of 4WD's there, though no Humvees, but I couldn't resist getting that in the title) in Africa. There was also one about how great it was to scuba dive in the Red Sea (beats a quarry in Wales) but as that involved a guy who lost the use of his legs it's best left there. At least there was a message about politics and getting on with each other.

About the only one advertised for our future delectation that really seemed on message, if your message is consistency, was good old Ray Mears, who is staying in the UK to teach us how to eat off the country. I presume that doesn't mean popping into Welsh Tescos to find how local their avocados are.

I'm sure I lay myself open to accusations of being a humbug and even hypocrisy, but I'd like to think I do not tell people to one thing and then do something else myself. I'm also not a national broadcaster.

All these shows are potentially entertaining, but I do question the real motives messages and especially the actual results. Ignoring what effect of an untrained bunch of folk descending for a TV-moment will have on their selected area, the sheer photogenetics of the whole thing seems to me more likely to have folk watching say 'Oh, luvlee, let's book Easter right now', and due to time constraints not worry so much about the sea/train options in getting there. And any eco-message will be tucked away at the back of mind.

But at least all involved will have a nice holiday, and the station will have some ratings it can file under 'civic lessons'. I'm sure they'll have a little offset thingy pop up in the credits. Perhaps the guys in Africa can join the guys in the Amazon at the end to plant a few acres to make up for all the global gadding in the cause of educating us on how global gadding is hurting the environment.

Anyway, I for one will be watching, and at the expense of EastEnders. I wonder what its carbon footprint is?

ADDENDUM: Yes, but