Posted by: Ciaran | February 14, 2010

News in the nude: the week’s stories undressed

The John Terry saga seems to have been rumbling on forever and a day now. Perhaps, now that wife Toni appears to have taken him back, the media brouhaha about celebrity cheaters will die down for a bit.

Or not. Step forward, Vernon Kay. Oh, and you too, Ashley Cole. Now, I’m not disputing that these stories are newsworthy. And I’m not in favour of the super-injunction which Terry tried to use to gag the News of the World and other newspapers from reporting his alleged infidelity.

But I think there is a line to be drawn by the media in the extent to which stories like these are able to dominate the news agenda. As I said above, I don’t dispute the news value of these stories – particularly the Terry one – but I do disagree with the extent to which news organisations seem to take the easy option of allowing them to run and run and continue to lead broadcast bulletins and the front pages of papers long after they are really ‘new’.

When the BBC‘s newsroom chief Mary Hockaday blogged about the corporation receiving more than 700 complaints over their blanket coverage of Michael Jackson’s death last year, she very skilfully made the point about the scale of the profile of an individual affecting the amount of coverage given to them.

She wrote: ‘Some stories divide audiences, and clearly there are those who aren’t interested in Michael Jackson. But we have to try to serve a whole range of readers, listeners and viewers – and undoubtedly a great many of you were extremely interested.’

Terry’s profile, as England captain when the story broke, was undoubtedly huge. But stories about him seemed to push the Haiti earthquake straight to the back of most people’s minds.

I know that is a bit black and white: there was, and still is, plenty of coverage of what was happening in Haiti, and there are, equally, many people who would not find the comings and goings of England’s talismanic captain the least bit interesting. But I think if you asked most people their most abiding memory of the news in the past fortnight, they would cite the John Terry story.

But who’s driving that? Is it still at the forefront of the news because people want it to be there, or because news organisations are lazily allowing it to perpetuate? I personally think it’s a bit of both. People want to read more about it – I confess to having followed the story avidly since the rumours began – but only to be in the loop about the very latest developments.

And now, after two weeks, those new leads are getting more few and far between, but it is still rehashed each day in often salacious fashion. Basically, I’m bored with it.

Let’s have a new story – and please don’t let it be a sex scandal.



  1. I agree, it’s about time Terry + Co shuffled off to try and make amends for what they’ve done (although if Cheryl has ANY sense she’ll have Ashley’s bags already on the driveway). I wonder if now valentines has passed the whole broken romance thing might be a bit less juicy? The News of the World ran it’s front page as “Valentine’s Day Cancelled,” with Vernon, John Terry and Ashley Cole on the front. Surely now it’s time to move on…?

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