‘Tis the season to print folly?

Posted by Laura
August – here at last; the month of holidays and sunshine and long lazy days, of school-run-free roads, barbecues and beaches. Yes, August is truly the month of the carefree and relaxed. But it has a sting in the tail for some, particularly those in the business of journalism.
News never sleeps, they say. And that, for the most part, is true. Events will always happen and journalists will always have a duty to report upon them. But August heralds the start of silly season – and with it comes a flurry of desperate hacks, seizing upon anything that’s going to fill the empty chasm of column space left by the parliamentary recess and the world and his dog going on holiday. The face of the Virgin Mary seen in a crisp? Cracking story. Ninety-nine per cent of people asked in a survey about surveys said they didn’t believe anything they read in polls? Whoa! Hold that front page.
Silly season this year has not been felt so acutely, largely due to the deepening crisis in the Middle East. Each day the situation takes a new turn and the issues surrounding the conflict are often so complex they warrant deep analysis and explanation. But does the dominance of Middle East devastation on the news agenda mean other stories are overlooked?
We have been criticised in recent weeks by users saying we are either pro-Israel or pro-Hezbollah, but one point that has since come up is that some users may think, in the face of such widespread coverage, other news is being neglected.

One user wrote: "Am I alone in considering the media’s coverage (particularly CNN, Sky and the BBC) of the Israel/Lebanon conflict to be a little bit too saturated? I fear there are other issues that are losing out. Would it be anything to do with the ‘silly season’ in media with journos finding an issue to latch on to, and doing so with both fists? Thank you for your measured coverage."

The interesting point the writer makes is that, although no one is in dispute over the gravity of events in the Middle East and our need to be informed with balanced and thorough reporting, news providers need to offer a range of stories.
So, what else is going on in the world? Having trawled the papers and the web, I can conclude that, er, aside from an exposé on Posh’s new haircut (a Pulitzer prize-winning piece of investigation following on from, no doubt, last week’s ‘Posh snapped in swimsuit shocker’ that set the red tops ablaze), Tony Blair going on holiday, and the Honey Monster making a comeback, not much of note is making the headlines.
Our correspondent may be right. Perhaps, in the current climate, the big news players are saturated by Middle East coverage. But, in the face of the alternatives like the ones listed above, it’s pretty obvious which topic they see as the most worthy.
That said, in the true spirit of giving you, our users, what you want, and succumbing to the "if you can’t beat ’em join ’em" mentality of August’s traditional news drought, we’ve tried to encompass as much as we can of what’s going on in the world on today’s homepage, together with a few bits of frivolity that are doing the rounds.
And, just in case you missed them, we’ve compiled a top five of the silly season stories of the day, giving a respectful nod to those tireless reporters who’ve dredged every news barrel to come up with these little drams of delight.
Getting feedback really helps us improve your experience of MSN. If there’s something you like, or something you loathe, drop us a line to let us know at homepage_blog@hotmail.co.uk
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