Biting the hand that commissions…

Seven days ago Sam de Brito wrote an excellent column for the Sun-Herald on the lack of news values in some websites. You can still find it on the website via this link, should you desire.

De Brito posed the question: “When did ‘what was on telly last night’ become news?” He then pointed out the types of “alleged news story” he has problems with. Dr Mumbo couldn’t help but wonder how the would itself fare in the days that followed (and that went before). Let’s have a look…

Dodgy news story 1:

There’s a new Apple product! This used to be called an ad. A queue of 35-year-old virgins outside a shop is not news; 40,000 people lined up for rice and water is.”

Three days later this appeared:

smh apple ipad

Dodgy news story 2:

Anything royal Prince Harry was here for three minutes and was national front page news. Surely page one should be reserved for when he’s found dead of an overdose. Diana’s death was a strong royal story. Wills impregnating Kate Middleton, not so much.”

Today this appeared:

smh royal Dodgy news story 3:

“There’s a rumoured new Apple product!! If I’d pitched this at my first editor, he would have choked me with my skinny leather tie before sending me to Alice Springs to search for pieces of Skylab. Hi Col.”

(Actually, Dr Mumbo had to go back two months for this one…)

smh apple rumour

 Dodgy news story 4:

Someone said something offensive on Twitter Well done, Scoop, you looked at your phone.”

smh twitter apology

He sure, did Sam. He sure did.

Dodgy news story 5:

It’s hot/cold/raining No shit? Do we also need a ”live blog” to track how we sizzle/shiver?”

smh weather

Let’s fire up that live blog straight away.

Dodgy news story 6:

Maddie McCann Show us DNA proof she’s a happy 10-year-old with Ringling Bros or make an arrest. Until then, not another word about your ”new theory” or ‘suspect’.”

Right you are, Sam.

smh maddie mccann

Dodgy news story 7:

Anything going ‘viral’ Unless it’s ebola, it’s not news. That said, I think we all enjoyed the KONY-2012-crazy-naked-public-masturbator story arc.

We all did, Sam. And the Doctor Who trailer too…

 doctor viral smh

Dodgy news story 8:

“Anniversaries Today marks five years since lots of Australians died. End of story. Let’s not dress up five pages of grief porn as a ‘tribute’.”

Let’s definitely not do that.

 smh 911 anniversary

Dodgy news story 9:

A restaurant closed So the writer can’t get their cheeky brioche bacon and egg roll any more. Do remind us how marginal the restaurant industry is, as opposed to steel production, manufacturing and farming.

Still, shame about North Bondi Italian, wasn’t it?

 smh restaurant

Dodgy news story 10:

“What your coffee/mobile phone/dog says about you You like coffee and dogs, and dislike pay phones?”

You have been reading your own paper, haven’t you?

 what your coffee says

Dodgy news story 11:

Entitled Gen Y can’t find job But they’re actually complaining about not having their dream career. Jobs are what you do for 20 years as you build a career. They tend to suck”

Still, some suck more than others. Imagine having to work for the sort of publisher who’d write that nonsense, eh?

 smh gen y job




  1. Dan
    28 Oct 13
    10:08 am

  2. Just proves Sam’s point doesn’t it? It’s also a clear indication of the state of newspapers these days – they can’t survive without celebrity dross and journalists are either too resource poor or too lazy (or probably both) to to actually do proper journalism.

  3. Natas
    28 Oct 13
    12:08 pm

  4. Trawling Reddit for news is the worst. Just so lazy – and they want you to subscribe and pay for it! is the biggest offender here. Just look at the home page on any given day and count the celeb stories vs real “news” stories.

    At least they keep that hard hitting journo with the odd name Staff Writer busy…

  5. Andrew Bolt & Gina Rineharts Lovechild
    28 Oct 13
    2:10 pm

  6. Advertisers wanting to pay less for ads and get more page views per ad would have nothing to do with this right?

    If you are infatuated with page views (because that’s all advertisers care about), you will go for the lowest common denominator. Why is the SMH website so tabloid? Because they are competing in a digital world that pays no premium for quality content.

    This “hard hitting” editorial that we all anguish about is not sustainable. At $5 per ‘000 how many people need to be interested in a thoughtful piece about climate change (that was horrifically expensive to produce). Do the maths. Two ad slots per page. $10 revenue per ‘000 page views. Lets say it cost $5k to write the story, run it past legal, find images etc etc.

    To get my $5k back I need 500,000 page views of that one article.

    It’s all about the eyeballs broseph….. The internet does not recognise premium content, nor are consumers prepared to pay for it.

  7. Kate
    28 Oct 13
    2:12 pm

  8. Who has time to trawl reddit, Twitter etc every day. Readers want to go somewhere they can catch up on all the news, both hard and soft. I’m not sure when Sam de Brito become the arbiter of what is and isn’t news – perhaps he should concentrate on his own columns.