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Elton slams Roy Hodgson live on stage in Harrogate

Yesterday, I went to the first ever open air concert staged in the Great Yorkshire Show Grounds in Harrogate. My wife and I went to see Elton John, he was brilliant, performing more than two hours of his back catalogue including the majority of his biggest hits and some of his other more select album choices. I wasn’t sure about attending the event as I like his music but I didn’t know what to expect really – I am more of a dance music fan. As it was the first concert of its size in Harrogate, I was interested to see if he and it could pull in the crowds, and he certainly didn’t disappoint. Unfortunately, Elton had been ill the week before with a respiratory illness and he even had to cancel three gigs which was worrying but then he appeared the day before at the Queen’s Jubilee in London.

I could try and write a full music review of the gig but it seems we weren’t the only people in attendance as I came across this review from Dave Simpson of The Guardian. He is its music critic and puts it far better than I could when he describes the scene:

Away from the showbiz and flag-waving of the Mall, this 180-minute marathon is about Elton the musician, exploring his labyrinthine back catalogue. There are songs from 1970s touchstone albums Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Madman Across the Water, unexpected gems (Hey Ahab, from 2010’s critically heralded, so-so-selling album with hero Leon Russell), and classics including a perfect Tiny Dancer and a Rocket Man that now sounds wistful for his days of being “high as a kite”.

Candle in the Wind, famously performed at Princess Diana’s funeral, is played without introduction, the song returning to its original position as moving lament for Marilyn Monroe.

I really enjoyed it all, apart from the expensive sandwiches on sale at £6.80 (what’s that all about?). In my opinion Elton certainly still has the (Sorry Elton) x-factor as a musician. How he still does it so well after such a long career is beyond me but he does and he is still a musical genius. However, the real stand out moment that had me aghast was right at the end in the encore when he decided to share his very clear footballing opinion. I don’t want to misquote the great man, so I will let Dave Simpson quote him he states:

The one moment of controversy is comical, when the former Watford FC chairman debates the England team selections, branding new manager Roy Hodgson a “twat”.

It was Elton’s way of clearly demonstrating his displeasure at the fact Rio had been omitted from the England squad for Euro 2012. He also called Hodgson boring and made it clear he felt Kelly wasn’t anywwhere near as good as Rio. Now I am a Liverpool fan and so I should really side with Kelly but I have to admit, I agree with him. Rio is a far more experienced player and would be much better at a tournament of this nature – we could do with his experience. Despite the reports I don’t think this decision is down to footballing reasons at all that said we should back the guy to at least win us one game. I am not holding out much hope though.

I have to say Elton has gone up in my estimations, he is a brilliant musician and I seem to agree with him on football terms too. So I think I will have to drop him a line and join him for a beer as we both have new babies too.

Churnalism is launched to combat cutting and pasting journalism

The last couple of weeks have been interesting because there have been some fascinating developments in the world of media. One of those new developments was the creation of a new site called Churnalism. The site has been created by The Media Standards Trust to basically identify where copied press release text is being lifted from and used. On Chunalism you can do the following according to the news release (whoops I have pasted it sorry):

    • Compare a press release with more than 3 million articles published by national newspaper websites, the BBC or Sky News since 2008
    • See the percentage of a press release cut and pasted into news articles, and the number of characters that overlap
    • See a press release side-by-side with an image of the article, showing which bits have been copied
    • Search examples of “churn” saved by other people as well as collected automatically by churnalism.com
    • Share examples of churn via Twitter and Facebook

This video which accompanied a great write up in The Guardian is brilliant and shows Chris Atkins and the team on a quest to get untrue news stories into the media to show how our hacks are now lifting copy and placing it into national newspapers.

Churnalism In the older days of PR when I started out, the majority of Churnalism would be from the smaller specialist trade titles, who would often also ask us to pay for our articles by adding a colour separation fee. Sadly, those days are still here and with the evolution of the internet and shared content it seems that the newspaper industry still doesn’t appear to be keeping up with online publishing and social media.

However, that said another great revelation came out a couple of weeks ago that pointed out that the majority of Twitter news is still derived from the more traditional news sources such as BBC etc. The article stated:

An analysis of more than 16 million tweets on 3361 topics by HP Labs’ Social Computing Research Group identified just 22 users who were the source of the most retweets while a topic is trending.

And during a trending topic, 31 per cent of all tweets are retweets.

Sixteen of these ‘influencers’ were mainstream media, including Twitter accounts for CNN Breaking News, which has almost 3.9 million followers, Huffington Post, Sky News, BBC World Service and the Daily Telegraph.

I think this is good news because good journalism still thrives its just that the times we are living in means that journalists have to move forward and do more work with less colleagues. I live next door to a senior sub-editor on one of Yorkshire’s largest newspapers and she has told me how tough it is at the moment in the newspaper industry but I don’t need to tell you that.

I think the Churnalism site is a great idea and way of drawing attention to the issue. I also think that the team behind it should produce a white paper or some kind of report on the state of the industry each year, as I would find it genuinely interesting to see if there are real trends in cutting and pasting. One thing is for sure there may be more cutting and pasting but there are still some excellent journalists out there.