Archive for May, 2009

So Michael Martin is the first speaker of the House of Commons to be forced out of office in 300 years. Should the Queen be worried about her ability to wear hats (well we beheaded the last one just after we got rid of the Speaker…)? Or now that he has stepped down will the focus be brought back to the MPs who shamelessly embezzled public money for their own ends?

But in the meantime we need a speaker and most people are wondering who will replace him. Now it is a truth universally acknowledged that we the public can only be interested in panel shows that involve raw emotion, unlikable, cartoonish characters and public humiliation. Followed by a public vote. Why, it’s the very essence of democracy, Solon, Cleisthenes and all those other toga wearers would be proud.

So I have created Britain’s Next Speaker, to be aired on BBC Four (because it’s classy). It’s Britain’s hunt to find the next HoC Speaker.

But who to be on the judging panel? You need just the right blend of smarm, familiar face, scathing put down, the one who no one is sure what their relevance is (even to reality itself, let alone reality TV), and  one who’s likely to cry at everything… It’s very tricky.

So I put it to Twitter, and below in a poll; find me judges and tell me who you want (after all as I just mentioned democracy is at the very heart of this exercise). And the results are in:

  • Phil Collins (Former speech writer to Tony Blair)          21%
  • Simon Cowell          13%
  • Armando Iannucci          13%
  • Thatcher          4%
  • Alistair Campbell          4%
  • Alan Duncan          4%

But the most popular category was:

  • Other         45% 

Including nominations for:

  • Alexandra Pullin (thanks)
  • Lily Allen
  • Clarkson
  • Rick Parfitt
  • David Mitchell
  • Kent Ertugrul
  • Daniel Hannan MEP
  • Tina Fey
  • Rick Astley
  • Noel Edmonds

So thanks for all your votes, I’ll let you know when BBC Four comes calling.


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In the spirit of Hannah Betts’ excellent ‘Things you only know if you’re single’ column in The Times I intend to have a series of posts on things you only know if you work from home.

This will accommodate both the people who always work from home and those who usually work in an office. Obviously there is an important difference. Home workers and office workers view things from different angles but it gives me more to talk about and it’s also more interesting to see both sides.

If you would like to nominate an aspect of working from home or if you don’t work from home and would like to sound off on people who do, either email me or leave a comment below. All good ideas I will write about as well as a few of my own thoughts on a weekly basis. Every Tuesday.

I look forward to hearing your views.

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I was wondering how many Journalists versus PRs there are on Twitter. And thanks to the joys of Google you can see that there are (in London):

  • 211 people with ‘journalist’ in their bio and ‘London’ in their location here
  • 254 people with ‘PR’ in their bio and ‘London’ in their location here

But what about outside London? There are:

  • 2o3 people with ‘journalist’ in their bio and ‘UK’ in their location here
  • 149  people with ‘PR’ in their bio and ‘UK’ in their location here

And globally (any location) there are:

  • 7,140 people with ‘journalist’ in their bio here
  • 13,200  people with ‘PR’ in their bio here

Could we therefore come to the conclusion that in the UK PR people are slower at taking up Twitter? Or perhaps that globally there are just more PR people than journalists? Or maybe that PRs outside of London are quicker on the up-take than journalists?

In fact it proves nothing.

Basically it is very difficult to come up with some snazzy percentages on the overall number of PRs and journalists as the number of new twitterers is quite hard to keep track of, for starters, and also the journalists and PRs that don’t state what they do. Or perhaps the copy-writers, sub-editors and those who don’t use the phrase ‘PR’ and ‘journalist’?  But it is interesting that globally there are nearly double the number of PRs to journalists, but in the UK this drops to a lot less PRs and in London is about equal.

 There are so many things wrong with the research, but it is interesting to see how the different proportions come up from changing the  location. I wonder whether it would ever be possible to actually work out the definitive numbers?

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A British man has just accepted a job offer over 34,000 other applicants from all over the world to live, caretake and report from Hamilton Island, on Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef. Or to create a more visual idea of the ‘best job in the world’, he’ll be paid to live here:

Island Life

Now we know where to send our ‘congratulations parcels’ to…

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The Standard says sorry

This is the new advertising campaign from the Evening Standard which went up all over London overnight:

The move to admit that the paper is out of touch was the brainchild of the new editor, Geordie Greig, after market research found that Londonders felt that the paper was negative, complacent and predictable.

Now this has caused somewhat of a fuss with Standard coloumist Roy Greenslade writing in the Guardian that  this will be seen by former owners, The Mail Group, as an open attack on their editorial style and previous choices in editors.  In his article he muses:

By saying sorry, Greig hopes not so much to distance his paper from its recent past as to shut the door on it.

Greenslade also points out the humbling circulation and readership figures when compared to free papers thelondonpaper and London Lite. Now surely this is where the real truth lies?

For example the Mail Group also owns the Metro in the morning, one of the most popular papers in the tube and also available in 13 other cities in the UK. Surely if they had got it so wrong with the Standard there would be similar problems here? But there don’t appear to be.

Could the answer be that, perhaps the Standard is just a reminder of another era? One where we had to pay for papers and spent time traveling home reading detailed analysis of the day’s stories? Sure, this will be what some people want, but it would appear that most people prefer the more tabloidy, more celebrity gossip fueled and less taxing journalism of the free papers. After all, at the end of a long day reading a series of serious essays isn’t always top of your agenda.

Which leaves the new Standard editor with a problem of targeting, how to maintain its image as the paper of culture, taste and so called ‘serious journalism’, while still tacking the free papers? I have no idea what will happen but it’s certainly going to be interesting to see the changes (or perhaps read all about it… sorry).

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