Monday’s Media Stories


1. The Guardian publishes its annual list of the most powerful 100 people in the Media. The Googlers are at the top. Steve Jobs is at number 6. Clarkson is at 58. Ant and Dec are at 99. A bizarre mix of names. I am curiously absent, unless there’s a number higher than 1.

2. James May was on Simon Mayo this afternoon. You could always listen to the interview on The Daily Mayo, or you can read some of the highlights here. Mayo claimed on air that they’d received more texts and emails for May than they had for any other guest in the history of the programme – including Jeremy Clarkson. And yet James May isn’t even on the top 100 list – unless there’s a number higher than 1.

3. Over on BoingBoing, they have a link to a story about a (possibly) faked object which purported to be the first media artefact made with movable type – not that anybody can read it.

4. Also from BoingBoing, a link to some YouTube videos produced by Nottingham University which illustrate each element in the periodic table. A lovely example of how science is being represented using new media. Why hasn’t the BBC’s Horizon strand ever done pithy illustrations of periodic table elements?

5. The Mosley court case rumbles towards a conclusion.

6. Big Brother axed in Australia. Meanwhile, the Daily Star lead story is Big Brother every day.

7. This weekend’s news cycle was fascinating. Quite often, you’ll hear about major government initiatives on a Sunday morning. This is partly because Sunday newspapers are huge, and more widely read perhaps than their weekday counterparts (people have more time), and partly because of the traditional Sunday morning/lunchtime political shows like the Andrew Marr Show (BBC1), or, –er, that’s it. Sky News gets a look-in, but how many people are watching that on a Sunday morning?

(Sky News has an average weekly audience share of 0.4%, with each person watching it for an average of… 6 minutes. Are ministers aware of these figures? All that happens is that they’re interviewed on air, watched by two men and a dog, and then every gaffe and bluff is picked up by every other news outlet for the next 24 hours. It’s the same technique being used by the Guardian to report on the James May quotes: they’re simply reporting something said on another news outlet.)

Of course, in the good old days, there was a very important show called Weekend World on ITV presented by Brian Walden (theme tune by American prog rock outfit Mountain), but these days ITV prefers to show, um, Coronation Street, apparently. Channel 4 doesn’t bother with politics, either. Even Radio 4 leaves politics alone on a Sunday morning, preferring a diet of religion or farming.

None of these facts of modern media life seem to have penetrated Westminster, however, and you still find ministers floating policies on Sunday mornings like so many air biscuits before anybody is awake enough to really hear/know what they’re saying. This weekend it was the genius idea of trooping knife-carrying thugs into hospital wards to meet knife victims — an initiative that sounded half-mad and half-baked even as the headline was being read out on 5Live Breakfast.

By the time it gets to Monday, everybody is over their Sunday morning hangover, and the Minister often has to stand up in Parliament and back-pedal (or U-turn) like mad in order to “clarify” what he or she really meant.

The venerable BBC comedy series Yes, Minister (later Yes, Prime Minister) portrayed politicians as bumbling incompetents who often had to be rescued by their civil servants. On camera, in a TV studio, ministers are often like rabbits in headlights, easy meat for a skilled interviewer. Most people really cannot see the bigger picture, and ideas that sound all riggghert in their heads are revealed to be completely unworkable once exposed to public scrutiny… and civil servants don’t work on Sundays.