Being au fait with the inner workings of news media, I tend to enjoy the reactions of others as they have their buttons are pressed without even realising it. It’s actually fun being able to see this crafty process from both angles, as if my eyes can straddle both sides of a magical two-way looking glass.
But then, the media is a funny kind of industry, traditionally strewn with colourful people from all walks of life. In fact, that’s something I quite like about this caper, as long as you can get the job done, the job’s yours. You don’t actually need a degree in Media and Communications Studies.
And I love some of the classic stories about the old Fleet Street days, the tall stories, the if it bleeds it leads guidelines. Apparently, there was once a keen reporter covering some far-flung earthquake or volcanic eruption for the Daily Mail, pushing eagerly for the story to be moved up on the front page.
His editor, possibly awoken to take the cub’s call: “How many casualties?’ Reporter: “Latest estimate is around 8,000.” Editor: “If it crosses the 10,000 mark, you’re on.”
There is an inevitable measure of jadedness or cynicism that seems to go hand in hand with having endured for any longevity in this endeavour. And yet ..
Perhaps because it’s so fast and fraught, with very few filters to resist some of the weird and wonderful things taking up the hearts and minds, both of the punter and the hack, that to some degree anything can happen – and sometimes the best in people comes to the fore quite naturally.
Listening to high-profile radio host Alan Jones the other day I was amazed to hear his brief interview with a 13-yr old girl who’d won a literary prize with a story about her young brother who suffers from serious autism.
My first impression was, ‘Oh dear, here we go. One of those annoying precocious child wonders.’ A minute later I was hooked. To have this kind of presence and awareness at that age. The little boy is so lucky to have her as a big Sis.
And then the aplomb and ease with which she encounters a media Leviathan like Jones. Incredible.
Leaving you with the same story as it appeared in the Australian coverage, somewhat earnest but more factual than sensational, as well as the UK headline, just stopping short of going ‘Killer Magpie ends old dude’. Although I think in both cases the photos selected had equal shock and awe overtones.