Has it really been 6 weeks? Can I really pace through one full month and a fortnight without sharing or proffering an opinion on something people, media or communications-related? It’s not as if we’ve been short of news, after all. Economic meltdown seems to have got a decent run for a start. That must merit a mention. Iran’s decision to toy with Israeli patience could well get a look in on one of those “tipping point blogs” that some of my Weber Shandwick colleagues do so well, too. And then there’s the really serious stuff – like whether calling your child a day of the week demands the interests of the social services department, celebrity or not.
So rather than try to play catch up with a flurry of blogtesimally dull posts, I thought a quick one-liner on the top five stories that have caught my imagination since late May might fill the void.
A word of caution though. The fact that I was holidaying in a sleepy village on the Suffolk coast for some of those weeks has, by my own admission, coloured my perspective. But then The East Anglian Daily Times is not known for its groundbreaking stories. Nor is the pebble-dashed coastline, that makes for a perfect family retreat, particularly well regarded for its wireless connectivity. In Suffolk, wireless connection means no connection at all; a LAN is a crossbred farmyard animal; and a router is a map. You get my point.
So, in no particular order, here’s what tickled my fancy.
A big word up, as they say in literary circles, to Salman Rushdie for being the recipient of the Man Booker Prize’s Best Book of Former Booker Prize Winners (a mouth full if ever there was one) for Midnight’s Children. A whopping 7000 (yes seven thousand) people voted online for the ex-fatwa man’s novel of genius. Which, when you consider American Idol had weekly audiences of 120 million (half of whom voted), gives you a perspective on people’s 21st Century reading habits. Or voting interests. Or both.
Well done the English public. Your unrelenting belief that an Englishman can win Wimbledon deserves a Queens Garden Party at the very least. In one short week, Henman Hill became Murray Mount (his girlfriend is suing the All England Club) and then, without warning, the hopes and aspirations of a nation came crashing down as quickly as you could say “Three Sets to Love”. The fact that the English Hope is a Scotsman is a fabulous reminder of the media’s ability to ignore the facts if they get in the way a decent story. My money is on Rafael Nadal being embraced as a local by the Daily Mail during next year’s Championships for the simple reason he hails from Majorca – which, of course, is effectively England’s south coast.
A special mention must go to the attendees of the G8 Summit. At a time when each and every political leader is telling its countrymen to tighten their collective belts in the face of economic adversity, and the state of the planet looks more grim each and every day, our Right Honourable representatives failed once more to do anything more than compliment their Japanese hosts on the smoked eel. Putting things off to next year, in the knowledge that half of them won’t be there anyway, is neither astute politics or ethically sound judgement.
Still at the G8 summit, lots of high fiving for the White House’s press team. Here’s a group of very serious looking ex-hacks who clearly understand the power of a Freudian Slip when they see one. Far from making any public comment about the politics of those political leaders around the table, they simply provide some relevant material of interest in the travelling journo’s media briefing pack. Of course, on the face of it, the Encyclopaedia of World Biography would seem like a reasonable source of info to slot between the sheets. Alas no. The EWB’s profile of Silvio Belusconi described him as “one of the most controversial leaders in a country known for governmental corruption and vice …. regarded by many as a political dilettante who gained his high office only through the use of his considerable influence on the national media until he was forced out of office in 2006”. Uncle Sam has a sense of humour. Can’t wait for the Italian’s response. I bet it includes the word, “Florida”.
And last, but not least, it would be remiss of me not to mention the Democratic nominees, Mr Obama and Mrs Clinton. I, like many others, had hoped that the end of their highly charged contest would be a wonderful thing, allowing us to get on with the rest of lives with a degree of peace. Retrospectively, this seems ill-judged. Since the referee rang his final bell, there’s been a stream of media commentary that must be considered accountable in part for fuelling the economic, political and commercial gloom. What’s been missing from our media in the past 6 weeks has been the quiet sense of optimism about what the future (albeit America’s future) could be. Now the optimism has left the headlines there’s only one thing to do. Bookmark the East Anglian Daily Times and sign up to Nadal’s Fan Club. Next year’s Wimbledon could finally bring an English(ish) winner and that simply has to be good news.