Thursday, 22 January 2015

Boob selfie

Earlier this week Alex Spence, who glories in the job title of "media editor" at Britain's ever-authoritative newspaper of record, had a scoop about one of its less aspirational sister publications:
The Sun will no longer feature topless models on page 3 after quietly dropping one of the most controversial traditions in British journalism.

The Times understands that Friday’s edition of the paper was the last that will carry an image of a glamour model with bare breasts on that page, ending a convention that began in 1970, shortly after Rupert Murdoch bought the newspaper and turned it into Britain’s bestselling daily tabloid. 
(Full text behind the Cheap-At-Any-Price Great Paywall of Murdoch)

You'd expect a media editor, who's presumably quite high up the journalistic food chain, to know what's going on in the media* (especially in the media group that pays his salary - by the way, top marks for the grovelling reference to your boss making the Sun into 'Britain’s bestselling daily tabloid', Alex). But, if you expected that, you'd have been quickly disappointed:
The Sun has published a picture of a topless woman on Page Three and mocked media outlets that said the long-running feature had been dropped.

On Tuesday, the Sun's sister paper the Times said the tabloid would no longer feature Page Three girls - but one appears in the Sun's latest edition. 

Several possibilities spring to mind:
  • Alex Spence didn't have a bloody clue what he was talking about, but never mind, they'll still keep paying him to churn out this drivel because he knows how to suck up to the boss.
  • The people at the Sun were spreading disinformation in an attempt to troll the rest of the media/blogosphere/Twittersphere into prematurely crowing about/analysing the Death of Page 3, before blasting 'em with both barrels and shouting "gotcha!" In their attempt to keep the prank on a top-secret need-to-know basis they didn't let the people at the Times in on the joke, leaving Alex Spence with egg all over his brown-nosed face.
  • The people at the Sun were spreading disinformation, as above, but Alex Spence was in on the joke and deliberately lied, in order to help his colleagues to troll the rest of us.
I don't know what you'd call these various sorts of tomfoolery, but the word "journalism" doesn't really apply to any of the possible explanations. It's more like noise, and self-referential noise at that.

It's almost as if some highly-paid journalists have given up any notion of reporting facts about things that have actually happened in the real world and are now tasked with dragging eyeballs back from the Inyourface24/7book bubble of drippy inspirational quotes and marginally amusing cat pictures, to the even less relevant bubble of journalists talking about journalists talking about tits, or something equally clickbaity.

All they have to do now is "start a conversation" on Twitter and the self-absorbed circle of  derp will be complete. May I suggest the hashtag #WeAreARightPairOfCharlies to Alex Spence and the unknown troll at the Sun who came up with this *hilarious* prank?

If you're desperate to signal your status as Serious Person with inside knowledge of breaking stories denied to the plebs outside the Great Paywall of Murdoch, you're welcome to give creepy Uncle Rupert a few of your hard-earned pounds so that he can save them towards getting himself buried alongside his private jet, or whatever the hell it is that the stupidly rich do with all the money they've made from a lifetime of being complete and utter shits to everybody else.

But if you just want to know what's going on, you might as well save your money, stop clogging up your mind with this sort of self-referential crud and be no worse off. Come to think of it, I'd have been better off not having heard about any of this in the first place. It's not as if I didn't already know about the sump of pathological narcissism festering away in the Murdochbunker.

Maybe - if that's not too self-referential - I should start listening to my own advice.

*Although a quick glance at Spence's recent output, which seems to consist largely of Murdoch-friendly BBC-bashing opinion pieces, suggests that he's become more of a self-interested purveyor of in-house informercials than a journalist. Not that the BBC are always innocent of similar levels of self-important self-obsession, as witnessed by the endless hagiographic retrospectives about how everybody loved their past output. These occasionally descended into dark, unintended hilarity, as when the BBC celebrated the life and times of its former golden boy Sir Jimmy Savile with its 'affectionate tribute' (for some reason 'This programme is currently unavailable on iPlayer'). And no - I'm more than half a century old and never, in all my born puff, have I ever heard anybody - except a BBC presenter - affectionately refer to the BBC as "Auntie."