Here is the news

rated people

I suspect I shouldn’t get worked up about this, and I’m not really, but I read my newspaper every day and from it, I expect one simple thing: news. I just need the events of the world reporting, organising and disseminating for me, that’s all. Some anaylsis, yes please, some comment, OK, but mainly I want the facts of what’s been going on, whether it’s in Parliament or Iraq, or any point in between. What I don’t want are news stories which are not news stories, but thinly-disguised adverts. Here, from today’s Guardian is a classic of this type. It’s short, so I’ll let you read it first.

The flatpack fans riding for a fall
By Martin Wainwright

Almost half of people living with home-assembled flatpack furniture are in danger of falling out of bed or collapsing when they sit on a chair, according to a survey. Haste and over-confidence have turned the relatively simple system into one of the biggest potential sources of home accidents, says a report on the 1.1bn sector. “Bravado shoulders aside logic, especially among men,” says the survey, which finds that 67% of male flatpack buyers fail to read the instructions. Women are far more cautious, spending an average of 12 minutes preparing, but none the less, 47% of all jobs are never properly finished. Sliding doors are high on the list of failures in the data, collected from 2,000 homeowners by the online trades directory RatedPeople.com. Just over 2% of flatpack buyers are so intimidated that their planks and bags of screws are never even unwrapped. “Even so, the seemingly simple self-assembly bed was named as the biggest problem overall at 22%,” said Andrew Skipwith of Rated People, which promotes the alternative to DIY of GSI – Getting Someone In. The survey also checked out regional variations in failure to read instructions, finding Manchester the runaway hotspot with 69% not bothering.

1) So fucking what?
2) Are you really telling me that that there is so little actual news the Guardian has space to fill? (At least the tabloids would presumably have had some fun with this daft and inconsequential survey – I haven’t checked – whereas here, all we get are the facts, reported as if it was a story about the NHS, reported as if they matter.)
3) As with all survey-based stories – and there are a lot of them about, as websites and publications get wise to the value of sending out a press release with a survey on it to achieve free publicity – you have to read to the end to find out what it’s an advert for. In this case, a website promoting tradespeople. Nothing wrong with that, but why not make them pay for an advert, like everybody else? The Guardian has been had, and now so have I, for stupidly reading the story to the end. (I did so, because you often need to, to get to the punchline.) This website is free to customers, in return for your details, and is funded by the membership of tradespeople, who also pay a referral fee for any job they get through the site. It’s not a bad website. I wish them no ill-will, it’s the newspaper I have a problem with, and not just the Guardian, that just happens to be where I saw the story.

In summary: a website promoting tradespeople over DIY has conducted a survey which suggests, in a lightly comical way, that people shouldn’t do DIY, because it’s dangerous. A national newspaper prints this as news.

50 thoughts on “Here is the news

  1. Agreed, since they have been exposed as fake news I don’t bother with these type of ‘stories’ based on so-called surveys, especially when it comes to food and health, where it seems the standard way to get publicity. But when you add PR releases, convenient leaks, unattributed sources and tip-offs, plus cannibalised stories from other news sources, and those awful opinion pieces masquerading as news, what genuine news is left??

  2. Agreed, since they have been exposed as fake news I don’t bother with these type of ‘stories’ based on so-called surveys, especially when it comes to food and health, where it seems the standard way to get publicity. But when you add PR releases, convenient leaks, unattributed sources and tip-offs, plus cannibalised stories from other news sources, and those awful opinion pieces masquerading as news, what genuine news is left??

  3. It’s been a bugbear of mine for some time. There seem to be two main ways to get this type of thing into the media. Either suggest a huge division between the sexes, or do a geogrphical thing about somethign vaguely insulting – then the local press go to town on it without thinking. Birmingham seems to come off very badly in this – it’s a stock comedy response when people are asked what accents they dislike, or who’s stupidest.

  4. It’s been a bugbear of mine for some time. There seem to be two main ways to get this type of thing into the media. Either suggest a huge division between the sexes, or do a geogrphical thing about somethign vaguely insulting – then the local press go to town on it without thinking. Birmingham seems to come off very badly in this – it’s a stock comedy response when people are asked what accents they dislike, or who’s stupidest.

  5. I thought you’d stopped reading the Guardian some time ago Andrew? Have you tired of the Indy so soon, or is it just an occasional nostalgia thing, like sleeping-with-your-ex?

  6. I thought you’d stopped reading the Guardian some time ago Andrew? Have you tired of the Indy so soon, or is it just an occasional nostalgia thing, like sleeping-with-your-ex?

  7. I often get the Independent as well, but I couldn’t bear it as my “main paper”, as the design is so uninspiring, and much of the content so dull. I still prefer the columnists in the Guardian, and they, plus the design, are what tempted me back. (I think I announced as such on here at the time.) In order to keep my sanity, I no longer read Ben Goldacre or any health story that looks like it might make my blood boil. Unfortunately, no newspaper quite does the trick for me. You have to pick and choose, I suppose. I get my dangerous left wing fix from the New Statesman, but that’s become incredibly dull since Gordon Brown got in. (Still, wouldn’t miss it for Pilger’s rants.)Any chance of just signing your name at the bottom if you’re posting anonymously. It’s so much friendlier that way. (You don’t have to sign up to post a message do you? You just click on Other and fill in your name, or your pseudonym, there.)

  8. I often get the Independent as well, but I couldn’t bear it as my “main paper”, as the design is so uninspiring, and much of the content so dull. I still prefer the columnists in the Guardian, and they, plus the design, are what tempted me back. (I think I announced as such on here at the time.) In order to keep my sanity, I no longer read Ben Goldacre or any health story that looks like it might make my blood boil. Unfortunately, no newspaper quite does the trick for me. You have to pick and choose, I suppose. I get my dangerous left wing fix from the New Statesman, but that’s become incredibly dull since Gordon Brown got in. (Still, wouldn’t miss it for Pilger’s rants.)Any chance of just signing your name at the bottom if you’re posting anonymously. It’s so much friendlier that way. (You don’t have to sign up to post a message do you? You just click on Other and fill in your name, or your pseudonym, there.)

  9. It looks to me like an old fashioned case of ‘advertorial’. I should imagine Skipworth paid for that in some way, possibly Wainright did a contra deal with his firm; they knocked together his bed in return for a mention in the column?

  10. It looks to me like an old fashioned case of ‘advertorial’. I should imagine Skipworth paid for that in some way, possibly Wainright did a contra deal with his firm; they knocked together his bed in return for a mention in the column?

  11. I get annoyed with stories about film launches appearing in news bulletins – items in breakfast/magazine shows are one thing, but the BBC 1 o’clock news….I wouldn’t mind if I thought the producers had paid real money and subsidised the licence fee, but I suppose it’s just lazy/well lunched journalism. As you say, it’s not as if there isn’t enough real news about.

  12. I get annoyed with stories about film launches appearing in news bulletins – items in breakfast/magazine shows are one thing, but the BBC 1 o’clock news….I wouldn’t mind if I thought the producers had paid real money and subsidised the licence fee, but I suppose it’s just lazy/well lunched journalism. As you say, it’s not as if there isn’t enough real news about.

  13. There is a venerable debate about what actually constitutes news, isn’t there? I believe I spent some time on the subject with my A level Sociology class, when you count column inches and try to categorise it, it’s surprising how much is non-news (especially if you include sport in that definition). Isn’t news just a form of entertainment anyway or is that a different can of worms?On the plus side, you reminded me to go and get my allen key, I wouldn’t want to have an accident due to have a screw loose.

  14. There is a venerable debate about what actually constitutes news, isn’t there? I believe I spent some time on the subject with my A level Sociology class, when you count column inches and try to categorise it, it’s surprising how much is non-news (especially if you include sport in that definition). Isn’t news just a form of entertainment anyway or is that a different can of worms?On the plus side, you reminded me to go and get my allen key, I wouldn’t want to have an accident due to have a screw loose.

  15. funny that you mention you don’t read goldacre in the grauniad anymore, I think this is one subject you and him would agree on. He has wrote a lot about these spurious surveys papers peddle as news.

  16. funny that you mention you don’t read goldacre in the grauniad anymore, I think this is one subject you and him would agree on. He has wrote a lot about these spurious surveys papers peddle as news.

  17. I just ordered a Panasonic Lumix TZ3 based on the photography booklet that came in last Saturday’s Guardian. It hasn’t arrived yet, but it’s meant to be very good. Incidentally, while we’re on the subject of commerce, I ordered the camera at £183, and two days later it’s gone up to £199 (it retails on the high street). How does that work???

  18. I just ordered a Panasonic Lumix TZ3 based on the photography booklet that came in last Saturday’s Guardian. It hasn’t arrived yet, but it’s meant to be very good. Incidentally, while we’re on the subject of commerce, I ordered the camera at £183, and two days later it’s gone up to £199 (it retails on the high street). How does that work???

  19. The advertorial aspects are bad enough, but I despair at the stats (if they are true). Flat pack furniture is not difficult to build!It’s just another one of those myths easily perpetuated by the media into accepted wisdom, like Milton Keynes being boring and Norfolk farmers being inbred. Neither of which is true, clearly.

  20. The advertorial aspects are bad enough, but I despair at the stats (if they are true). Flat pack furniture is not difficult to build!It’s just another one of those myths easily perpetuated by the media into accepted wisdom, like Milton Keynes being boring and Norfolk farmers being inbred. Neither of which is true, clearly.

  21. What would be news would be a case of one of those local tradesmen coming round and doing the job with the care and attention that I would do it with.

  22. What would be news would be a case of one of those local tradesmen coming round and doing the job with the care and attention that I would do it with.

  23. What job, jw? Do they come in the tradesmen’s entrance? You mean the men that come to see to your plumbing? I tell you, jw; nobody does it with the care and attention you would do it with….

  24. What job, jw? Do they come in the tradesmen’s entrance? You mean the men that come to see to your plumbing? I tell you, jw; nobody does it with the care and attention you would do it with….

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