If you’re anything like me, you were always picked last for football at school. It’s not a nice feeling is it? You’re essentially being told ‘You’re the least-skilled individual here. We’re giving all the juicy positions to those more deserving.’
Presumably News Editors follow a similar, equally sophisticated, method when assigning stories to journalists, assigning the best news to the journalists who can do fifty three keepy-uppies. If that’s true, the BBC journalist who was assigned the following story must have been the news-equivalent of the fat kid at the back. He’s not only bad at football, but if you don’t keep your eye on him he might just eat the ball.
Seemingly harmless fluff, right? No.
This kind of news-guff irks me, though not because of the content. Actually, in my opinion soft news plays a vital role in the world.
Over the last few years we’ve been giving up more and more of our collective headspace to passive consumption of the media. The media has become the knowledgeable parent figure by which society is taught about the world at large. Let’s face it, stories about gay penguins with erectile dysfunction are the news-equivalent of being tucked into bed with a warm glass of milk and told “It’s all right. You’re safe. All is right with the world.” (**) For this reason hilarious soft stories about transvestite bears never end with the bear being shot.
What roasts my raisins is the tone of childish glee with which journalists always announce these stories. ‘Look at me! I’ve got a chance to pun!’ These stories should be the bottom of the pile, yet journos grab hold of them with gusto. I sometimes get the impression that, were it not for opportunity to narrate a life-affirming ‘soft’ story journalists might end up at home with nothing better to do than sob into their TV dinner. Reading these stories is therefore nothing short of exploitation on your part.
However, it must be said, uber-congratulations are owing to Shepton Mallet’s West Country Farmhouse Cheesemakers group for taking advantage of this flaw in our collective psyche. I particularly recommend you watch the bit 45 seconds into the BBC video when the Westcountry cheese-furtler calls RAF Lyneham to warn of the impending intrusion into their radar space. Genius.
The rest of you; for shame.
[**Admittedly, for that analogy to hold water, our parents would have to have spent dinnertime telling us horror stories concerning the imminent collapse in value of your piggy bank, and how the next door neighbour had just been shot in the face. Let’s ignore that.]