Irresponsible journalism?

I’m not one to throw charges of “irresponsible journalism” around and I’m in favour of freedom of speech in all its glory, but even I have qualms about an article on Slate explaining how to set fire to a Peugeot.
I doubt there’ll be many rioters and rioters-to-be that will read it. But all the same…

The cost of Vegas

Ah, there’s nothing I like better than mocking an organisation that’s thought about its needs enough to put together a press pack, yet hasn’t bothered to update it in two years. Congratulations, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority! You’ve managed to create a dozen or more inaccurate articles by now that no doubt you’ll have to correct, if ever you hear about them – which is unlikely.
Anyway, there are some fun nuggets of information in this particular press pack, including the fact the Venetian hotel (my favourite) cost $1.5 billion to build. That’s a lot of money.

£120m for Friends Reunited

ITV, apparently having decided its output is so high quality it can waste money on dotcom acquisitions, has decided to spend £120 million on Friends Reunited. Nutters.
Does anyone really bother with Friends Reunited any more? I haven’t updated my entry in a year. Neither has anyone else at any of the schools, clubs, workplaces, etc that I went to. The bulletin boards aren’t clogged up with people chatting. None of the people who failed to sign up when it was at its peak have had a change of heart recently.
It’s dead. It’s so 2001-2003.
If ITV really has that much money to throw around, perhaps it might like to spend more on decent programming and its ITN contract so that the latter’s journalists can afford to eat food for a change.

Good luck with that one, has launched a newsblog. Can you hear a spring in its step as it jumps a bandwagon, everyone?
Anyway, sarcasm aside for once, the plan is to have it updated several times a day – a kind of window onto the thoughts of the editorial team is the plan.
Again, good luck with that, guys. Wonder how long it will be before they’re just putting anything that enters their brain straight into it. Oh wait. They’re already doing that after only a few days:

31.10.2005 16:35:03 More boozy Brits are using the net for impulse buys. According to a news report on, a growing number of British are shopping online for ‘tat’ after a night down the pub.

31.10.2005 15:25:02 has been taking a look around Microsoft’s Life² business and consumer technology showcase. We’ll be brigning (sic) you photos from inside the event shortly.

Inspired. I’ll be reading that every day. Oh yes.

Travelling to the US is rubbish for journalists

For those of you who don’t know, the US is one of about three countries in the world that (officially) treat journalists differently to other visitors. If you’re in the UK, you can normally get into the US with a visa waiver form (that’s the green one). But a close study of the visa waiver form reveals that that you can’t use it if you’re representing “a foreign media service”.
That means one of two things:

  1. Entering the US under false pretences – i.e. using the visa waiver form and claiming you’re on holiday
  2. Paying £50, making a trip to the US embassy for an interview, getting a letter from a magazine saying they’ll be responsible for you financially and a week or more without your passport

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Tell Me No Lies

If you’ve not picked it up yet, rush off to Amazon to buy the paperback version of John Pilger’s Tell Me No Lies, a collection of the best of investigative journalism from the last century. Pilger has rooted around to find articles that exposed terrible injustices and secrets that are now common knowledge, thanks to the efforts of hard-working journalists. Equally importantly, they are pieces that have stood up to the unforgiving power of hindsight, which can so often reveal something that once had power as being naïve and shallow in the context of history.
It’s hard to single out any one piece as being the highlight, when there’s Martha Gellhorn’s eye-witness accounts of Dachau, Edward R Murrow’s indictment of McCarthyism (re-enacted in the forthcoming George Clooney movie Good Night and Good Luck), and Seymour Hersh’s famous exposé of the massacre at My Lai. But it’s at least a fitting tribute to Paul Foot that his investigation into the Lockerbie cover-up should be included in the volume.
Strangely, Woodward and Bernstein’s Watergate coverage, the most famous piece of investigative journalism ever, doesn’t make it into the volume because it was “detective work” and didn’t “bear witness and investigate ideas”. This seems a poor excuse, although the piecemeal nature of the Watergate investigation meant that it wasn’t prone to long analysis or good writing – it was just solid, outstanding news reporting.
If you don’t like Pilger, this is still worth a read, since there’s only one article of his in the book: Year Zero, one of his many exposures of the iniquities of Cambodian life during the 1970s. And even his greatest detractors wouldn’t object to that particular piece of altruism.
Read it: it’ll remind you why journalism is still important. If it stops, as Pilger’s prologue hopes, anyone becoming a journalist so they can be the next 3am girl and instead points them on the same career path as Robert Fisk, et al, then all the better.

Press centres

What is it about technology companies and press centres? Wherever I go to, whatever conference it is, the facilities for journalists are always so sub-standard compared to the other conference attendees’.
Here’s some of the main problems: network connectivity is always bad; the computers are always sub-standard and never work; wireless access never works; and the food is always rubbish. You end up scavenging the same food as everyone else to avoid starvation (or, of course, paying for your own food).
I’ve ended up forking out $11.99 to use Mandalay Bay’s in-room wireless access. That’s actually good enough that I can use Skype to avoid having to pay for extortionate phone call prices from my mobile and – heaven forbid – the room’s phone.
Anyway, it doesn’t actually send a good message to tech journalists that your tech is so bad, guys, particularly if you’ve decided to equip the press room with thin clients from Wyse: you can shout till you’re blue in the mouth that network connectivity is never really an issue for thin clients, but when everyone’s sitting there, waiting for minutes at a time for Internet Explorer to launch, we’re really not very inclined to believe you.

SOA backlash

Well, gosh. Someone’s a little full of himself.

From time to time, I find myself lassoing a sacred cow in this Editorial space, dragging it over to the slaughterhouse of rhetoric, and ultimately barbecuing its falsehood over the stainless-steel, six-burner, propane-powered grill of real-world experience.

That’s nice, dear. Far be it from me to put a mute in the end of your massively overblown trumpet, but you’re about a year and a half too late with your biting editorial.

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