Pictures on the radio
Last week I was taking issue with the Guardian's Emily Bell on the subject of podcasting in an article entitled "Top of the Pods". This week I find myself taking part in a podcast, in discussion with said Emily and a chap called Rob who's the editor of an independent podcast called "Top of the Pods", of which I was previously unaware.
It sounds like some sort of anxiety dream, but the proof that it really did happen can be downloaded at the Guardian's Media Talk podcast. The striking thing about the Guardian's podcast is that it's a tiny operation - a Mac in a room with a little sound desk and a couple of microphones. But the result is that what was first a newspaper and then a website is now effectively in the radio business. As Rob pointed out, the great thing about podcasting is you don't need funding or a licence or anyone's permission - you just do it. Emily's point is - given all that - should the mighty BBC really be doing so much?
(And talking of spooky coincidences, how about this one?)
Not that the citadels of the old media are exactly crumbling. I bumped into Today's Jim Naughtie at the chancellor's summer drinks this week. He was telling how within an hour of their item about dogs' names more than 400 listeners had emailed the programme with pictures of their dogs (more here).
So if dogs are your thing - and it seems for a great many people they are - Terry Wogan's corny old maxim that the pictures are better on the radio appears these days to be becoming literally true. Incidentally, when the Chancellor finally arrived he headed straight for the boys from The Sun. New media may be powering ahead, but with Rupert Murdoch publicly wondering whether to support David Cameron at the next election, Gordon Brown has no illusions where the old media power still resides.
Elsewhere... we've had plenty of our own user-generated content this week - much of it following FIFA's decision to clear Arsenal in relation to Newsnight's report about secret loans to a Belgian club - and not all of it polite. Frequently asked questions have included: why did Newsnight decide to investigate Arsenal when much more serious things are going on elsewhere in soccer, did we time our item to coincide with David Dein's re-election bid to the FA board, and now that Arsenal have been cleared will Newsnight be apologising?
Here are some answers.
I've no doubt there are all sorts of murky things going on at football clubs up and down the country and across the continent, but the reason we looked at Arsenal was that we were shown a document proving that Arsenal had provided secret loans to prop up Beveren. No, we didn't plan our item to coincide with Mr Dein's election - we learned about that on the day of broadcast.
And no, no plans to apologise. Arsene Wenger himself is on the record as saying "there is no question of financial support" to Beveren because "this is not allowed". Arsenal continued to deny a financial relationship until the day of our broadcast and then admitted they'd lent a million pounds. That isn't, as some viewers have suggested, a non-story. It's a fact, but what the FA and FIFA choose to do about it is a question for them.