Shark Infested Waters

I’ve mentioned before that one of my favourite things, started at school – a regular comprehensive with some thankfully progressive teachers – was to compare and contrast the same story in different papers. We take the press in the UK for granted. First, a free press (politically) is wonderful, but that’s always tempered by the lack of freedom from the publishers, all too often powerful families of old, publicly listed companies of now. It is a rich resource for people looking to profile audiences and their opinions, so much more than the usual social and economic markers. I would also like to incorporate some analysis of how the media manipulates readers and the public both trivially and politically into my university teaching. The Sun is reporting every detail of “I am a Celebrity…” Their use of language is extraordinary, cliched attention-grabbing. SHOCK – EXPLETIVE LADEN – OUTBURST – “fans flocked to Twitter”. I watched the Mike Tindal piece to camera and have to admit hardly raised my eyes from a close to a high score on Woodoko. This is, of course, the trivial end of the spectrum; the language issue is serious when applied to things that matter. Social issues or political debate. It also shows how political parties use this language in their press releases or spin – Militant Union, Invasion on our coast, etc. All are designed not just to control the narrative but to shape it. It has fascinated and troubled me since those days at Roundwood in Harpenden looking at the NOTW and Mail on a Monday morning in 6 form. On “Dont Try this At Home”, with Davina McCall, we never sent contestants to “swim with sharks” we always sent them to “the shark infested waters off the coast of South Africa”, I practice what preach.