When you read the papers, listen to the radio or watch the TV there is always a common link. That link is to get something that will appear to be just that little bit different so that the public will pay attention, albeit for a short time, so that the focus is held for the story to unfold.
The unusual, horrific and shocking or downright odd are promoted in such a way to be sensationalised to the degree that you or I will pay attention and listen. Or in the case of the papers, to buy their own brand of headline reporting.
So when ‘Junkie burglars cheat justice’ is given headline status what does the story hold? Exactly what is the real story?
This means that serial teenage burglars and muggers could escape with a caution if they have a drug habit. Even when a drug addict commits a string of crimes, a ‘conditional caution’ could be handed down instead of a court trial and possible jail sentence. The conditions could involve simply saying sorry to victims or repairing damage. The Tories called the controversial Government proposals ‘cheating justice’. Critics fear they remove a significant deterrent to repeat offending.
Ask anyone who has had their home burgled and see what answer you get. It will not be about saying sorry, helping with drugs rehabilitation or community service. Yet the constant list of compassion, new and radical solutions to reduce the offences and the support for the offender leave the poor old victim feeling like they are simply not important in the way of things.
It was reported that last year, under-18s committed more than 6,500 house burglaries and 6,300 robberies and were involved in 47,000 cases of theft and handling stolen goods.
Add to this the fact that a former SAS commander in Afghanistan has claimed the Government had ‘blood on its hands’ over the ‘unnecessary deaths’ of four soldiers killed when their Snatch Land Rover hit a roadside bomb then you could be surprised to think that there was a point to this type of headline. Major Sebastian Morley reportedly said Whitehall officials and military commanders repeatedly ignored his warnings troops would be killed if they continued to use the ‘unsafe’ vehicles. The 40-year-old resigned following the death of Corporal Sarah Bryant, the first female soldier to die in Afghanistan, and three of her male colleagues after their Snatch hit an anti-tank mine in Helmand province in June last year. The news is not just about what has been allowed to take place but the fact that a senior armed forces officer see it necessary to stick his head above the parapet and complain that his men and women are not getting the correct levels of equipment and logistical support. The spin and deflection to other areas of conversation brought forward to get whoever is quoted talking happily away from the real issues. What exactly is the real story ?
There are times when the headlines give us an insight into the story. There are times when the story is unpleasant and causes you to question this thing called humanity. There are also times when the headlines add importance or a higher reportable status to the story and make it interesting, sometimes far more interesting than it should perhaps be.
The one thing that these headlines do not tell you is the continual efforts to be seen to be doing more for less. The continual efforts for organisations or individuals to try to get positive headlines, to promote their chosen brand, almost on a daily basis and create the illusion that somehow every thing is going well and all is OK when it is not and they do not have the answers that work. Instead they try to convince everyone of small things and deflect to what they are happy to talk about and is a lot less uncomfortable for them because they do not have to give answers about the awkward and complicated stuff.
The media do not just report the news. They promote and sell the news by trying to get it packaged in a way that gets you to read it, listen to it or watch it from their angle. To sell it to you from their own particular delivery. Any opinion or action seems always to be challenged by the opposite viewpoint, for no other reason than there is sometimes another viewpoint. Reporters and presenters always seem to take the opposite view from that belonging to who they interview, just to get justification for an alternative view and not necessarily just to report.
Its business, its corporate, its strategic and it stinks because they act as judges and juries and are happy to sensationalise whatever happens to promote their brand under the umbrella claims of simply reporting the news.
At the same time we know what celebrities have for breakfast, what colour socks they wear and who is shagging who, yet we don’t know what happens in the next street unless it involves something shocking and unpleasant. News is only ever short lived because the efforts to get the next big story packaged up in all its glossy glory keeps those headlines and they must be kept coming. There is almost never any follow up or continuation because the next atrocity or event is the be all and end all of the media bandwagon. Todays news celebrities are tomorrows forgotten has beens.
The search is on for the next and the next and the next.
I wonder what will be discussed at the next CTCC senior leadership team meeting ? What can be done to promote the brand, perhaps ? What positive press releases can we muster ? Perhaps they will make the decision to take it in turns to bring the biscuits to accompany the coffee instead of simply having them supplied.
Everyone seems to be as bad as one another in this corporate world.
Here’s to the next headline.
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