After the Olympic highs, has normal media service been resumed?

Thursday 16 August 2012, 17:16

Torin Douglas Torin Douglas is the BBC's media correspondent. Twitter: @BBCTorinD

After 17 days of Olympic-induced euphoria and goodwill, the afterglow has almost faded.

We are plunged back into a world of international debt crises, rail rows, right-to-die court cases, phone-hacking, Wikileak extraditions and Celebrity Big Brother.

Premier League football and the X Factor return on Saturday - displaying an entirely different set of values, role models and behaviour from those which were so applauded during the Olympics.

Back to reality? Not quite.

Thursday's Daily Telegraph still carries "A 12-page salute to Team GB's Olympic medallists", packed with pictures and profiles (and ads for their sponsors). Under the headline "HEROES", Sir Steve Redgrave warns his fellow-medallists that this will be a time of mixed emotions and difficult decisions as they return to the reality of day-to-day life.

For the media, too, there is a good deal to reflect on.

After all those celebratory headlines and feel-good photos and video reports, should they simply revert to business as usual, where good news is no news?

Or is is it possible that one of the Olympic legacies will be a kinder, gentler media culture? 

Olympic stamp

Allison Pearson in the Daily Telegraph summed up many people's withdrawal symptoms after London 2012: "God, it's been heaven. A tonic. Just what the doctor ordered. A holiday from pessimism, a vacation from celebrity vacuity. Walking through Stratford to the closing ceremony on Sunday, my family was carried along on a thermal current of happiness and pride."

How different from the media's usual theme tune - 'Accentuate the negative'. Many editors still take their cue from Lord Northcliffe who famously snarled: "News is what somebody somewhere wants to suppress; all the rest is advertising."

But does it have to be like that? 

In the past those who have suggested the media should publish more good news - notably the former newscaster Martyn Lewis - have been widely ridiculed.

But not entirely. Few remember that when Radio 5 Live started in 1994 it ran a programme called Now the Good News every Friday evening from 9pm to 10pm. "Nobody else does it," said network controller Jenny Abramsky in the Independent.

There are good reasons why the media shouldn't always look on the bright side of life.

Journalists must not be in thrall to the PR companies and political spin doctors whose stock in trade is to promote the good news and bury the bad. Celebrities and their agents increasingly demand control over questions and subject matter, and if some publications won't comply they'll go to another that will.

But that doesn't mean the negative story should always hold sway over the positive.

Fortunately, there was some genuinely good news this week to ease us down from the Olympic euphoria.

Adrian and Gillian Bayford, the couple who won £148m on the Euro Lottery (and celebrated with a Domino's pizza), were celebrated on most of the front pages and there seemed to be genuine delight for them. The following day, instead of uncovering a disgruntled family member who had missed out on a share of the fortune, the papers focused on Adrian's best friend who said he didn't want a penny of it - and wished him all the best.    

And there are more sporting heroics to look forward to with the Paralympics. Many of the papers are preparing to recreate the feel-good factor in the Olympic Park, with the Daily Mirror counting down on its masthead - "13 days to the Paralympics."

The torch relay route has been published and there'll be profiles of the likely medal winners. Channel 4, which won the TV rights from the BBC, will have wall-to-wall coverage on its network of channels and is promoting the Games with the slogan "Thanks for the warm-up."

Yet signs of negative coverage are creeping in. Under the headline "Paralympians pipped to video gold", the Times reports that some Paralympians were upset that a 'good luck' video they made in April, singing the Queen hit 'Don't stop me now', had had its thunder stolen. A version recorded at the weekend by Olympic gold medallists Sir Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton and Jessica Ennis has already been viewed 1 million times on YouTube.

On the bright side, the Royal Mail has had a change of heart and will now create stamps for all Team GB's gold medal winners at the Paralympics, saying it's "the right thing to do".

Comments

Be the first to comment

Share this page

More Posts

Previous
An injection of entrepreneurial energy

Tuesday 14 August 2012, 13:15

Next
Who’s following you? Twitter makes it easy to find out

Monday 20 August 2012, 14:40

About this Blog

A blog for the College of Journalism at the BBC Academy, discussing current technical, ethical, production and craft issues in journalism.

Blog Updates

Stay updated with the latest posts from the blog.

Subscribe using:

What are feeds?

Follow us on Twitter

New twitter image News and comment about journalism and interaction with the College:

@BBCCollege

Recent posts from this blog

TECHNOLOGY

Google Glass by Charles Miller

iOS 7 for journalists by Marc Settle

Responsive web design by Helene Sears

Viral videos by Charles Miller

ETHICS

Use of violent footage by Charles Miller

Reporting transgender issues by Stuart Hughes

Pitfalls of data journalism by Martin Rosenbaum

Is Twitter sexist? by Anna Holligan

INTERNATIONAL

What President Putin never says by Stephen Ennis

BBC emboldens Pakistan media by Sajid Iqbal

Twitter in the Arab world by Damian Radcliffe

Media freedom in Turkey by William Horsley

JOURNALISM IN PRACTICE

Newsnight enlists social media by Anna Holligan

Coverage of high tech burger by Rebecca Wells

Healthy hyperlocal media by Damian Radcliffe

Media access to Google by Charles Miller

Waiting for the royal baby by Suzanne Lord

TIPS AND GUIDES

Place name pronunciation by Marieke Martin

Researching science topics by Alex Freeman

Americanisms and the BBC by Ian Jolly

Researching Northern Ireland by Tim Shields

Also from the College

Polly Evans on presenting regional news for BBC South East Today

Polly Evans

 

How the BBC provides impartial coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Jerusalem

Alan Green on the job of a football commentator for BBC Radio 5 Live

Alan Green

 

The BBC College of Journalism and New York Times social media conference in New York

The College of Journalism's New York conference

Blogroll

Other great places to follow debates about journalism and media:

George Brock: thoughts on journalism past, present and future from City University's head of journalism

The Media Blog: lively and often funny topical detail about UK media output

Memex 1.1: John Naughton’s online diary: comment on media output and technology from the journalist and academic

Arab Media & Society: Arab media and trends summarised by the American University in Cairo

British Journalism Review: selected pieces from the authoritative quarterly journal

MediaShift: PBS monitoring of the changing media world from a US perspective

Arts & Letters Daily: more interesting ideas and good writing than you will ever have time to read

FiveThirtyEight: Nate Silver of the New York Times writes data-based US politics blog (there are 538 electors in the US electoral college)

Alltop Journalism: links to the most recent posts on many journalism blogs

About the BBC: varied BBC blog about all things BBC-ish

Columbia Journalism Review: US academic perspectives

Facebook + Journalists: Facebook's own guide to its use by journalists

Andy Dickinson: teacher of digital and online journalism at the University of Central Lancashire

Jon Slattery: UK media news from the former deputy editor of Press Gazette

Meeja Law: Judith Townend's guide to media and legal issues 

European Journalism Centre: global news from the Netherlands

Roy Greenslade: Guardian blog by the former Mirror editor now journalism prof

Wannabee Hacks: information and experiences from aspiring journalists.