11 thoughts on “Spot the Difference

  1. When I worked, I could think of numerous people who I would accept a cake from (providing they hadn’t handled it first) but hardly any I wanted to hug. If old Jim from the machine room or drama-queen Doreen from accounts said: “Do you want cake or a hug?” I think both of them and I would know the answer.

  2. People bring pastries or cake into the office fairly often here, but I generally don’t eat between meals and so pass them by. Occasionally I’ll grab a kilo-sized lump and eat it with coffee, though.

  3. Rob,

    Kissing random Frenchwomen took some getting used to. But it was easier than in Kuwait, where I had to kiss the blokes.

  4. Actually, these two “stories” do answer your question. They are both based very closely on statements made by someone from the Royal College of Surgeons. Both newspapers repeat those claims uncritically because they make an instant “shock horror” story, and this is how much of the content in modern newspapers is manufactured.

    A pressure group wants to promote its agenda, so it crafts a press release that provides a neat pre-packaged story to the media. Each media outlet paraphrases the text and adds some of its own spin. But the key parts of the message remain largely unchanged, especially if the press release already provides a catchy headline and a few good quotes to use. These stories do not provide any real news or information to the public and will have little influence on most people. But they do provide a way to lobby the government by getting a large section of the media to push a similar message at the same time.

    Commercial interests use the same technique to promote their brands, by planting stories in the media that are little more than adverts. This includes a lot of the celebrity gossip in the media, which will have been deliberately released by the celebs’ publicists to draw attention to their clients.

    The media go along with all this because it provides them with a constant stream of ready-made stories with minimal effort. They still do some real reporting as well, but the more the dead tree press struggles to make a profit the more attractive this cheap source of content becomes. So, what use is the modern media? The answer will increasingly be that it’s mainly for lobbying and advertising.

  5. AndrewZ is correct in my view. The thing you have to remember is that is all a circle jerk: the print press talks openly about television and TV has ‘what the papers say’ programmes. All this means that they feed off each other and yes, press releases from interest groups are wonderful column fillers (or air time fillers, which in the end is what most of them are interested in.)

    They always said when I was in newspapers that journalism was power without responsibility, but I also never forget the joke among journalists (apologies if I have related this before) that went like this:

    ‘You can go to war zones and file investigative reports under hostile fire, or you can stay in the office and type up press releases. Both jobs pay the same.’

  6. Kissing random Frenchwomen took some getting used to.

    Eh. It helps if you’ve gone to school in France. Then you’ve been doing it for a while. There’s a time window when the girls start to become, erm, you know, girlzz, when they think that they have to kiss the boys to show that they are deemed attractive. I’ve never had a problem with it. There’s a lot of things about the French that I find annoying, but kissing the girls has never been one of them.

  7. There’s a lot of things about the French that I find annoying, but kissing the girls has never been one of them.

    Pretty French girls, no. Random middle-aged women and older, yes.

  8. AndrewZ and Watcher,

    Good points, yes. I know the newspapers just regurgitate press-releases, but it surprised me at how little difference in imagination there is between two journalists at different papers 6 months apart. Or maybe they used the same intern?

  9. What the… Cake, hugs, and less work? What sort of misbegotten salt mine are they trying to run there? More of the lash says I. Well, until morale improves that is. Yes we have day care for the children. Who do you think turns the fans to keep this place cool in the summer?

    The workplace has gone to the dogs if you ask me.

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