Archive for May, 2010

26th May 2010

My visit to the Newspaper Library

Newspaper Library

Last week I visited the British Library’s Newspaper Library in Colindale, North London. This charming – though hardly sensational – art deco-style building is the only place in the country where you can access most of the world’s newspaper ‘back-catalogues’, often in their original paper form.

Newspaper Library

Sad to say, the Library’s planned closure will go through in the near future, meaning that most of the stock will be transferred to other British Library sites – or simply put into storage. Fingers crossed that the closure won’t make it any harder to get hold of some of the rare and wonderful items currently available for inspection.

I recommend all media students passing through this part of London to pay the Newspaper Library a visit as soon as possible. Even if you’ve nothing planned that you wish to research, why not look up a range of newspapers printed on your birthday – perhaps a tabloid, broadsheet and paper local to where you were born. It’s always interesting to know what kind of a world you were brought up in – and how you’ve changed it for the better! Um, sounds like a good ad line :)

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08th May 2010

The end of TV? Not on your telly!

The fashionable ‘end of television’ thesis – doing the academic rounds lately – seems well and truly on its knees if recent evidence is to be believed. For starters, there’s the constant media banter about  Britain’s first ‘TV election’ – although this catchy phrase overstates the power of TV to shape public opinion, as spectacularly demonstrated by the unexpected (among political commentators at least) Lib Dem flop at the polls. Yes, Clegg was TV-genic. But. No, Clegg didn’t convince many people about his credentials to lead the country. And when it comes to powers of persusasion.. t’was the sun wot did it agen!

But even if we take a critical view on the ‘TV election’ cliche, more scientific findings still point to television’s persistence as the dominant medium of our times, relatively unchallenged by mobile phones, social networking sites and other new media. On average, we watch more than 4 hours of TV every day (I don’t, but the majority do) and, more worryingly for some, very young children are watching too much TV - and eating junk food and warping their brains at the same time.

So it seems the TV dinner (baby food included) is here to stay, for the time being at least, and who knows what 3D TV will do to our eating habits!

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02nd May 2010

Duffy-gate and Goffman’s front/back

Astute students of the media will not, no doubt, have overlooked the significance of Gordon Brown’s ‘bigoted woman’ gaffe. In these days of omnipresent media exposure and intrusion, it’s no wonder that the protruding cameras and - more often – the straying microphones occasionally reveal the two Goffmanian faces (front and back) of our most prominent public figures.

But as PR disasters go, this one was especially disasterous. And despite the best attempts of Brown and other senior Labourites to kill the story, Duffy-gate may turn out to be the defining moment in this election campaign. Forget the instantly forgettable leaders’ debates, the manifesto promises, the carefully stage-managed speeches. This one, brief encounter – which, incidentally, was intended to be yet another photo-opportunity for our ‘common-man PM’ – has blown Brown out of the running to be the next PM, even if a Labour government of sorts (no doubt with Lib Dem backing) defeats the Tories at the ballot box.

And the outcome of Duffy-gate? Mrs Duffy is not going to vote – and nor, by the way, am I.

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