Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Newspapers report on TV shows as though they are news. It's OK, I've got over that. Hence pages 4 and 5 of the Sun on Monday being devoted entirely to X-Factor stories such as Woman wears striped tights and Viewing public treated like idiots and are idiots.

But the page lead was headlined MENTORS... IT'S WAR. It was written by Lucy Connolly, and in the print edition it was tagged as 'EXCLUSIVE'.

That's right, EXCLUSIVE. In the context of newspapers, EXCLUSIVE has a very specific meaning. It means a story that only one newspaper has. Marking a story as EXCLUSIVE tells your readers that your reporter has sniffed around, ruffled a few feathers, dug a little deeper and mixed their metaphors until they've come up with something nobody else knew about.

Or, like Lucy Connolly, they might have just joined several million other people and sat on the sofa watching Saturday night TV. She begins:
TENSIONS between the X Factor judges have turned into open warfare - with them tearing into each other over how they mentor acts.
OK, so I understand that the Sun wants us to buy into this myth of 'tensions' between the judges. It's the show's USP, after all. So we are asked, in the name of trashy entertainment, to suspend our disbelief. Fine. 'Open warfare'... well, call that journalistic licence. What she means is, these tensions have become more... tense. And with this being an EXCLUSIVE report, she must have some behind-the-scenes scoop, right?

Wrong. There follows 16 paragraphs of story. Eleven of them simply report things that happened on the weekend's two X Factor shows. Things like:
[Louis Walsh] reckons [girl band Belle Amie] could be major stars - but are being cheated of the help they need because Simon, 51, is interested only in boy band One Direction. He told the singers: "You've got a problem because you're on your own in this competition."
Later on ITV2's Xtra Factor, the pair continued the spat when Simon declared: "The difference between me and Louis is that I listen."
Yes, we know. We actually WATCH this shit, OK? And anybody who doesn't watch it will have skipped straight to the next page, surely.

The rest of the story is either baseless speculation:
Things are now so poisonous finalists fear they are being criticised for their mentors, instead of for their performances.
Or made-up anonymous quotes:
A source said: "It was obvious that it was a sideways swipe at Cheryl. She was grimacing trying to bite her tongue but her expression said it all."
Rubbish. And people wonder why newspapers are struggling.

No comments:

Post a Comment