The election bilge is well underway with the media pushing its clickbait spin online and in headlines in the printed versions. Nothing much new there, as the journalist reporters of today only seem to endorse the opinion of whoever writes the leader articles. Just looking at what is written or listening to what is broadcast on a daily basis, the average reader could probably guess the next ‘shock horror probe’ story to find its way across the headlines or the top listened-to topic on talk shows.

This stuff is so similar that you can almost imagine the morning planning meeting at the local BBC radio station, something along the lines of: ‘everyone had a chance to read the nationals, and look at the online versions, ah…  Who has the best story with a local slant trashing TBP, UKIP, Brexit … our local MP is always good value for a quote on everything from the county being hit by asteroids or an immigrant invasion,’ or best of all, the impending doom-laden economic forecast that a clean Brexit break will cause, backed up by that Remainer local business ‘leader’ who employs 10 people on salaries less than the national average, making widgets to sell to some obscure company in eastern Europe.’

Nobody bothers to find out who, how many, or what sort of companies these business leaders represent, or the background and previous experience of the MP, so long as they always have an opinion loosely following the party line. Which in most cases will be anti-Brexit, particularly if they are in anyway connected with the ‘arts’ or some charity or NGO.

Crime is always a good choice to get the phones flashing in the studio. Locally there is some concern at that big new development, sorry the new ‘rural village’, where vandals have trashed gardens and car: ‘somebody nip over and do a couple of interviews preferably with older retired people who have had their gardens damaged, and see if you can find a nurse or somebody who has had their car trashed making it very difficult for, say, a single working mother to afford a replacement.’ You know the sort of angle. 

‘Now I know you lot don’t actually like going out into the community and speaking to people who don’t read our choice of newspapers, but it’s good to get other points of view but be selective, and for goodness sake don’t bring back the views of the Daily Wail or Daily Distress readers, what we want are the views of somebody who favours our viewpoint, by the way who still has the newsroom copy of the Guardian? I want to read it and for goodness sake can somebody get the subtitles up on that Sky News Screen, how are we supposed to concentrate with the sound up all the time? Who’s doing the drivetime show this week, see if you can speak to the County Council PR department and get a quote about all the traffic disruption in the town caused by the temporary traffic lights at all those deserted road works and don’t talk to that guy who said last time, if people wanted smooth good roads they will have to put up with it. Anyone been on to the police about that road closure that caused the town to be gridlocked on Monday evening, yes I know somebody was threatening to jump off a bridge or something but the roads were gridlocked for seven hours, find out why they thought it necessary to take the guy a Chinese takeaway, the disruption must have cost businesses a packet, see if the Chief Constable or that Commissioner can give a quote and Brian don’t upset their PR department you know how touchy they are these days, and remember we have to work with these people so don’t make any waves’. 

It’s quite easy to see how these subtle ‘nudges’, as Cameron the ex P,R man called them could be done: want an anti-Brexit interview? Interview young people around town in the working hours, but not any random young people, there are usually lots walking into town on the way to ‘Maccies’ from the local college or uni, mostly clueless about anything but always good for an anti-Brexit or pro Corbyn quote. 

Want to make an anti-party political comment and make all supporters out to be not very bright or disinterested, just have the reporter do a VoxPop in the less salubrious areas of town where the older ‘working class’ people, not driving the latest prestige car or wearing branded puffa jackets live, there is bound to be someone who will give an answer that you were just waiting for to prove your stereotype. 

Remember Worcester Woman? No? Me neither, but apparently she is now being disregarded along with Mr. Mondeo Man in favour of Wokington Man during this election. Me, I’d use the views of Mr & Mrs Garden Centre Cafe Visitor or maybe the views of Mr & Mrs Theatre Goer or those that inhabit the ‘better’ class of supermarket. Ask any of these people the question you have decided you want the answer to and make no mistake, you will get it. 

It may be true that you can fool some of the people some of the time and it was probably a lot easier to do so in the pre-internet and social media days. Cameron’s success when voted in as leader was probably the last hurrah of the blue rinse and regimental tie brigade membership, ‘nice well-spoken young man and all that’, and we all know how well that worked out for us, hung parliaments, along with the five year parliament act and policies that suddenly mushroomed out of the ether made into legislation, and then the famous resignation following the referendum and the May shambles and betrayal.  

(To be continued in tomorrow’s issue)

 

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