Sunday, October 03, 2010

Have-a-pop 'hero' hacks

I HAVE to say, right off, that I enjoy my work. Yes, for some managing a communications team, and contributing writing and strategy, isn't exactly up there with brain surgeons and NASA scientists but sometimes I know that what I do makes a (tiny) difference.

And, yes it is true that I do sometimes ruminate that I should get off my lazy arse and publish my creating writing, spend time critiquing pseudo-science, stand up for my atheism, or set my stall out in the music trade.

Of late I have been rather irritated by the attitude of the self-declared experts and the have-a-pop 'hero' hacks populating some of the lower selling Northern Ireland newspapers.

I'll give you two cases in point by way of example.

The first concerns a media enquiry a colleague received about a report issued this week. The report was the result of almost a year's hard work by other colleagues. Their work has already produced numerous positive comments, and may result in some real change. But this hack with an agenda was already halfway through penning his article. When asked whether he wanted a copy of said report he commented that he wouldn't have enough time to read it...though he did ask for the executive summary if one was available.

This says more about the hack's agenda than it does about the report itself. And, one of the people he offered up in the article, surely had not read the report, even if they had a copy sent to them in advance.

The other example is the goading on talk shows on topics that the average caller will not have taken the time to delve into. Cue up a self-appointed controversial commentator to vent his spleen then open the phone lines. Said commentator is one whose views I listen to, and on a rare occassion even agree with; but that he too had clearly not bothered to read the report in anything resembling detail speaks more about his agenda than anything else.

Once, many moons ago I was a full-time hack too; even a moderately successful one in a very limited sense. I know that I, at times, took short cuts when deadlines were tight. But I never jumped to too many conclusions. The hack and the commentator above seem to have leaped unthinking towards self-thought-fulfilling conclusions.

Or, could it be they prefer their own agendas over objective journalism.

Such objective journalism is a rare commodity in a celebrity obsessed media landscape, where the latest manufactured act and psychic occurence are preferred over evidence and real talent.

Witness the channels dedicated to psychic shit and 'alternative' medicine [for alternative medicine read: not tested by any reliable scientific method].

Yesterday I reported on the sad passing of Trevor Fleming. Trevor was the guitarist in Belfast band Sweet Savage. Few of the X-Factor generation will ever have heard of Trevor or Sweet Savage. Yet Trevor appeared on a song that may have contributed qute a few shillings to the Northern Ireland economy. He was in the Sweet Savage line-up that recorded a song called Killing Time. Metallica covered that song. Such is the popularity of Metallica across the globe that royalties came back to 'Norn Iron', where Sweet Savage were able to spend a few quid...

Sadly Trevor's passing will go unnoticed in a city where pubs imitate X-Factor and be-jewelled barely clad girls strive to aspire to lesser spotted WAG status.

Which leads back to the point of this post. The media used to be a reflection of society: reporting on foibles and critiquing the actions of the great and the [not so] good.

Now, it believes it can set the agenda.

It believes it can pout and preen, setting out a stall with an agenda and a plan to demean those that work hard and actually take an active part in this less than civil society

It believes that pseudo-celebrities are more important than real stories.

And with falling sales its disinterested readership is turning to the web...

BTW- which UK recording act topped the charts in 21 countries worldwide?

Clue - It wasn't a Simon Cowell act, and it wasn't some reality TV wannabe.

Don't know yet?

It was Iron Maiden, with their 15th studio album.

Next question: Are The Beatles the biggest selling act of all-time?

Answer: No, and not by a long shot. That would be AC/DC.

There are the smarmy gets who prefer shoe gazing nobodies to the hard, cold facts that they may damn the Iron Maiden's and AC/DC's of the world, when such acts actually earned their stripes gigging without Louis Walsh and co offering pithy comments. They call Maiden, DC and Metallica derivative and 'adolescent' but fail to note that Morrisey is an undergraduate lyricist at best and Duke Special ain't that special [Tim Minchin has better dreads, better and funnier songs and he can really play!]

Tortuously this brings me back to the original point. Too often the hacks who sit behind the desk, fingers poised over a keyboard think little of their personal agenda. Too often the self-congratulatory columnist never asks about the reality rather than the cheap quips...

This rant is now over.... :)