Monthly Archives: December 2008

Helevision is on a break

Back soon !


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Doggy Stardust

The Dogs TrustPhoto from has sent out the most bonkers story I’ve heard in a long time with their list of the top 10 most irresponsible reasons for people giving up their dogs.

They include such gems as: “My dog doesn’t match my sofa” (Consider yourself lucky, my mother’s dog once ate hers).

And the incomparably crazy: “The dog looks evil and has different coloured eyes, just like David Bowie.”

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Talking of fascinating blog arguments….

If the BBC Editor’s Blog debate isn’t enough for you, take a look at the cyber-row that’s developing between Lawrence Rustem of the BNP and  one of my fellow broadcast journalism students on her blog.

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BBC succumbs to the Twitter chatter of shiny Tweets

A fascinating debate is raging over on the BBC Editor’s Blog. Photo from

And, for a change, it doesn’t involve anybody’s salaries/jokes/genitals/grandfathers.

No, it’s about the BBC’s use of Twitter messages (or ‘tweets’) in its live update reporting of the Mumbai terrorist attacks.

Accuracy v Speed

The comments seem to fall into two camps:

1. Those that love the excitement of news updates

2. Those who want accuracy, not speed 

The first group (who are much smaller in number on the messageboard) feel that it is just a case of embracing new technology into traditional forms of reporting.

The second maintain that the BBC has founded its reputation on accuracy and that is where its focus should remain.


I think I largely agree with the second group.

Obviously, as someone training to be a journalist, I love the excitement of breaking news.

The thrill of trying to puzzle out what is going on from hundreds of sources is immense.

But I also admire the BBC – and aspire to work there- primarily for its reputation for being fair and correct. Without it, the Beeb becomes just another news outlet.


The thing I love about breaking news is line after line of ‘facts’ or presumed events.

And the BBC’s line by line updates from other agencies and from their own correspondents provided that very well.

The tweets on the other hand didn’t really add a huge amount.

Take these, for example:

0424:harshender tweets: We as common man should create a memorial right near Gateway to show respect and honor to all who died in this attack.


0404:angsuman tweets: “nothing is hard for us” says a commando. Same hold true for India. Bravo

To me, it’s just a bit of mindless chatter – the textual equivalent of listening to a TalkSport phone-in.

So yes, the BBC should be doing live updates with their own reporters. It should include agencies. It should even include tweets if they are a) accurate and b) add something to the development of the story.

But it shouldn’t do it just because it can, even if just for self-preservation.

After all, if news is simply becoming a stream of unanalysed sources delivered to the public, what is the point of the journalist?

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The Christmas ads are coming

Christmas is just over 3 weeks away; it’s time for the full festive advertising onslaught – with (jingle) bells on.

Brand Republic has a good round-up of the major players here .

The Best

Undoubtedly my favourite of this year is M&S’s cosy chalet Christmas.

Yes, probably because Take That are in it. Who can’t love Mark, Gary, Howard and Jason?

Apart from Robbie Williams, obviously. And, presumably, Boyzone.

It also reminds me strongly of the super-schmaltzy (and festively warm and fuzzy) video to Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’

The Worst

The absolute worst is, without question, DFS’s radio effort.

A cover of Mariah Carey’s ‘All I want for Christmas’, it seems to have been playing since about August.

And gets more irritating with each repeat.

Although Tesco’s TV ad where a seemingly bemused Des O’Connor stumbles woodenly around his front room doesn’t quite work for me either.

And Coca Cola

Still, at least we have so far been spared the Coca Cola truck and winking Santa lighting up small villages (I have no idea quite why this ad is so celebrated but would love to be enlightened).

But then again I never really got the Cadbury’s drumming gorilla, so what do I know?!

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Orange is not the only bib…

The Government has today launched its scheme to make offenders sentenced to community service wear orange bibs.Photograph from Ministry of Justice

It says that the aim of the scheme is not to humiliate those wearing them but merely to make the punishment “visible”.

The bibs themselves are bright orange and carry the words ‘Community Payback’.

Some groups have argued that marking offenders out in this way could lead to attacks by vigilantes.

Mistaken identity

However, orange high visibility vests are also worn by a number of other professions.

The following all wear/have worn orange coloured bibs as part of their work dress:

  • Motorway maintenance teams
  • Vehicle rescue & recovery teams
  • Big Issue Sellers – In 2004, Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Police introduced orange bibs for sellers of the magazine, which benefits homeless people
  • Rail workers

Is it possible that they could be misidentified as criminals?

Admittedly, there’s a lot to be said for context; a person seen in a high vis orange vest in the middle of a city probably isn’t mending the railways.

But very often the great British public do not look that closely into things.

The paedophile/paediatrician mix-up of 2000 is a prime example.

New Zealand

Even if that risk is slight, it is still unlikely that an orange bib will mark offenders out.

Perhaps, if the aim really is to make punishment visible, a colour should have been picked that we are not accustomed to seeing.

Earlier this year, a police chief in Wellington, New Zealand pioneered a scheme to issue pink vests to graffiti taggers.

It was a controversial move – a local councillor claimed it was reminiscent of the pink triangles gay men were forced to wear in Nazi concentration camps.

But unfortunate associations aside, it certainly made the punishment very visible and, the officer claims, cut crime in his area.

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