The internet used to be simultaneously the MOST EXCITING THING EVAAR and a bit rubbish. MTV News reports in what the uploader of the video says is 1995, but we think is probably actually 1996.
VERSION FOR PEOPLE WHO COULDN’T BE BOTHERED READING ALL THAT:
You’ve gotsta love Belgian noise scientists Soulwax. Not only do they make loads of astonishingly good what we still call ‘mixtapes’, commendably sticking with the whole mash-up thing a decade after it stopped being fashionable, but they’ve made a free iWhatever app allowing you to download or listen to them all. You can also listen to them over the internet at 2ManyDJs.com, but best of all, it seems many of them are on YouTube, allowing us to embed one of them here.
And why? Because it opens with a spoken word intro from Neil’s Heavy Concept Album, and we like The Young Ones, so it falls within the remit of this blog. That’s why.
Taking what occasional Chris Morris collaborator Osymyso does and extending it, there.
You know when you hear something really good, and think “I am SO putting that on YouTube so more people can hear it”, but then realise lots of other people have had the same idea so you don’t need to bother doing it?
A marvellous monologue from John Finnemore, covering events of the News of the World phonehacking story on last week’s The Now Show.
Hearing Finnemore’s performance in this format is much, much better than actually listening to The Now Show, because in this format the crescendo the routine builds to isn’t immediately deflated by having to listen to Mitch bloody Benn perform a rubbish song about not washing your pants. And we didn’t even make that up.
WARNING: If, like us, you’re listening to the above routine just after listening to the latest episode of the thunderously marvellous radio sitcom Cabin Pressure, the initial impact of it is slightly dissipated by it seemingly being performed by Arthur, the in-flight dimwit played by John Finnemore in that programme. Stick with it, or imagine David Mitchell’s reading it all out or something.
If you haven’t yet listened to Cabin Pressure, remedy that immediately (after listening to the embedded video above). It’s got TV’s Benedict Cumberbatch in it and everything.
After a week of banging on about a now-defunct newspaper (just before it relaunches with a new name but without several dozen salaried employees who hadn’t stopped to think why working for a company where union membership is forbidden might be a bad idea), back to telly stuff. Have you ever wanted to carry The Light Channel around in your pocket? Well NOW YOU CAN, with the ITV Player app for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Here is our mildly comprehensive review. Of it.
Because we grew up reading a lot of videogame magazines, we’ll score it out of 100. To make things interesting, we’re going to assume a basic score of 50%, then add or subtract points by feature, then arriving at a final score.
First thing you’ll notice is that on installing the app (a free download +5% with a mere 2.8MB footprint +5%, that works on both handheld and tablet iThings +3%) is that it asks where you live. This is to ensure that you’re in a region where you’re allowed to watch the programmes they have the rights to, which is certainly fair enough. You wouldn’t expect a Hulu app to work in the UK, after all, and no reason why an ITV app should work overseas.
Only one problem here, though. Thanks to ITVplc’s long-running feud with tartan-clad mavericks STV, allow your iThing to detect you’re in Scotland and you’ll be frozen out of the fun –6%. But before you mutter a forlorn “jings! Crivens! Help ma boab!” to yourself, it’s easily circumvented – you don’t have to use the location recognition, you can simply tap in a postcode. The app’s FAQ even tells you how to wipe the details you’ve entered and resubmit a location, so you don’t even need a day trip to Berwick to get it up and running. Phew. +5%. We’re not sure if this means you can easily use the app outside the British Isles by simply tapping in SW1A 2AA as your home address. We’re happy to test it out if anyone wants to buy us a plane fare to, say, Tokyo.
…And that’s the end of that chapter. Except, of course, it isn’t.
Unless Murdoch is going to relaunch Today as a Sunday-only newspaper, it’s pretty clear what is about to happen. We’ll be surprised if there’s even a gap between the News of the World closing and a replacement popping up in its place, considering that’d let the two Mirror Group red tops pick up a bunch of extra readers. So, we may as well get this done nice and early…
[UPDATE 7pm WEDS 6th JULY: The flyer and all uploads now updated to include the latest news. If you downloaded it before, you might want to nab the latest version as well. Many thanks to everyone who’s mentioned the flyer on Twitter, Facebook, various web forums and the Guardian comments section. Feel free to adapt, amend, mirror or host any versions of that flyer yourself. Get that message out there!]
The News of the World phone hacking scandal rumbles on, with fresh allegations that the paper targeted the families of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman. A Twitter-led campaign to boycott the newspaper has been rumbling on since the story broke, along with a concerted campaign requesting that a number of companies re-evaluate their advertising spend. Some members of the public are even phoning the News of the World newsline (0207 782 1001), yelling a certain word starting with the letter ‘C’, then hanging up.
All perfectly admirable behaviour, but we can’t help but feel a big bunch of people who probably didn’t buy the News of the World in the first place pledging not to buy the paper won’t really make too much difference. Indeed, any member of the public who chooses to get their ‘news’ from tabloid newspapers may well remain blissfully unaware of the story – at the time of writing, only the Daily Mail is giving any prominence to the latest phone hacking revelations, featuring the story on the front page of today’s edition (though not the main story), and at the time of writing it’s the only tabloid to feature it as top story on their website. In the other tabloids it’s rather suspiciously deemed worthy being tucked away in the inside pages, leaving front page room for Ashley Cole, Prince William and the latest desperate health scare (yeah, that’ll be the Express).
What might help is to try and get the story out there, where tabloid readers are a little more likely to see it. Say for example, you could print out a quick synopsis of the phone hacking story as it stands, and discreetly place it atop the pile of News of the Worlds in your local newsagent, petrol station forecourt or supermarket. Something a bit like this, perhaps?
There’s the above sheet in a variety of formats, feel free to download, print, disseminate, or even adjust it as you wish to make any number of points expressing how you feel about the News of the World. Feel free to host these files on your own websites, Twitpic accounts, blogs, Facebook sites or whatever – the main thing is to get the message out there.
You might even remain strongly in favour of the paper, and want to re-edit the document to express how you think hacking into the voicemail of missing children is actually a good thing, and that Rebekah Brooks should now become Prime Minister. Though, y’know, you’d be an idiot.
The main thing is, if the tabloid newspapers – who you’ll remember think that taking any approach to get a good story is wholly justified – don’t want this story out there, we might just have to do it ourselves.
A News of the World employee hacks into the mobile phone voicemail of missing schoolgirl. Is that newsworthy or not?
So, The Guardian reports creditable claims that an employee from the News of the World hacked into, and deleted messages from, the voicemail of missing schoolgirl Milly Dowler in 2002, leading to false hope for her parents that she was still alive, and misleading the police investigation at the time. That's a pretty big story, and unquestionably a much bigger scandal than the kind of "FAMOUS MAN OFF TELLY OR FOOTBALL SAYS OR DOES SOMETHING A BIT CONTROVERSIAL" thing that would cover an entire wall of a newsagent like bilious wallpaper.
The stories broke a couple of hours ago (this is being typed at 7pm), so Her Majesty's press have had plenty of time to put the story on their websites. Which of them have it "above the fold", that is, have the story in a position that's visible on the front page of their website without having to scroll down or carry out a search?
The Guardian: lead story
The Independent: lead story
The Telegraph: lead story
The Times: fourth story, though the News of the World’s sister newspaper takes a very different approach to the story, instead reporting it as “Dowler family sues News of the World”:
Daily Mirror: no coverage of the Milly/News of the World phonehacking story, but Fearne Cotton has a “new boyf”.
NOTW’s sister paper The Sun: no coverage, but a “Fat bloke is at top of Next modelling poll”.
Daily Star: No coverage, but “Gorgeous Gemma is making her page 3 debut today” is considered newsworthy.
Onto the supposedly “quality tabloids”, then. Starting with the Daily Express: no coverage, though blah blah cancer, holidays, Miliband, the EU.
The Daily Mail: no coverage. But two of the three lead stories are that Kate and Wills are in Canada. Of course, dead schoolgirls are only important to the Daily Mail when they can blame it on striking teachers.
So, that’s how the press are covering (or not) the News of the World/News International Milly Dowler phonehacking story. The broadsheet press have decided it is a news story. The tabloids, well, we can’t imagine why they wouldn’t want to throw any more light on the whole ‘dark arts of tabloid journalism’ thing. Can you?
Meanwhile, over on News International’s corporate website, a irony-free reminder of just what constitutes “world-class journalism”:
Move over The Guardian’s Sam Wollaston, there’s a new contender in town for “Britain’s most clueless television critic”. It’s the endlessly thumpable Kevin O’Sullivan of the Sunday Mirror, who it seems really wanted to write a piece slagging off ITV’s new weekend output, and wasn’t about to let piffling things like “the truth” get in the way:
Now, unless you’re writing something for the Daily Mail or Daily Express, both places where “You must NOT admit to ever enjoying anything involving Jonathan Ross” is on page five of the employee handbook, we’d say it’s pretty bloody impossible not to be hugely entertained by Penn and Teller: Fool Us. Assuming you’ve actually watched it and not, say, half-read a one-paragraph press release detailing the content of the show about a month ago.
As many will know, what Fool Us actually contains is a variety of fresh, entertaining and innovative magicians who through years of practice and performance deserve to perform in front of a primetime TV audience, every single one of which pulls off their trickery absolutely flawlessly. Best of all, far from Penn and Teller merely “gawping at nonentities”, the duo (who, you may remember, spent much of their 1994 Channel 4 series “The Unpleasant World of Penn & Teller” tearing the British magic establishment a new one) display unabashed delight at seeing the acts perform. At one point during Piff The Magic Dragon’s performance (pictured above), Teller was laughing so hard he was actually jumping up and down on his chair with glee.
Far from the confrontational style the pair display in their US cable series Bullshit!, Penn & Teller remain refreshingly uncynical from start to end, instantly preferable to the “while I enjoyed it, I have to slag off your performance because I’m trying to be the next Simon Cowell” kind of judging you might find elsewhere. No spurious phone votes (and we’ll ignore the “what colour was the red flag Teller was waving?” premium rate competitions, as that’s how ITV have to pay for things now). Even the one part of the show where a bit of ‘edge’ could have been inserted, having Penn & Teller (well, Penn) explain to everyone explicitly how each trick was done, has been ignored, allowing the acts the chance to carrying on performing the debunked illusion in their act. While that might seem a bit annoying in practice, with the people who know all about a thing you don’t talking about it in terms you don’t really understand, any annoyance is diluted by it all being done for the right reasons.
And, as anyone who actually watched the show instead of overhearing someone talking about it then slagging it off in your Sunday Mirror column will know, Penn and Teller actually do perform magic, which serves as the finale to each and every episode.
Still, maybe it’s just that Kevin O’Sullivan has much higher standards than blogchimps bashing away haphazardly at their keyboards like us. Maybe he has to needlessly diss even the more entertaining programmes using lazily fibpacked rhetoric so that when he does really get behind a television programme, you know it’s going to be as brilliant as discovering a filmed but never previously shown episode of Alan Bleasdale’s GBH, or all those previously wiped episodes of Dad’s Army turning up in a previously jammed drawer of Mark Thompson’s desk. Just what calibre of televisual entertainment gets the O’Sullivan thumbs pointing skywards?
Oh. Right. Okay.