In her latest blog, MRM’s Katy Allison provides some ‘who, what, when and where’ lessons from some of the latest news stories that have hit the press.
Lesson #1: Who is it about?
In what can be looked at as a lesson for all spokespeople, Daily Star editor Richard Desmond, who arrived at the Leveson inquiry on Thursday last week, was berated for telling the High Court that he doesn’t know the meaning of the word “ethical”. With media ethics a hot topic in this industry (my colleague Charlotte Banks posted a blog on the UK Bribery Act earlier this month) it is true that guidelines are hazy – but with Desmond’s authority in the tabloid press and the way in which he worded his testimony, it is who he is as a spokesperson that made his comments particularly unwise…
Lesson #2: What happened?
On Monday this week, The Economic Times in America posted an article on the ever-increasing use of social media in workplaces, highlighting a study conducted by The Ethics Resource Center which found that the use of social networking sites is “leading to the decline of ethical behaviour in many businesses”. The problem, according to the research, is that we have become so used to sharing information via Twitter and Facebook on all aspects of our lives, posting ‘public information’ and ‘confidential information’ has become much more difficult to define. This one is by no means a new lesson – but perhaps a useful one to remember.
Lesson #3: Where did it take place?
At the weekend, news spread quickly of the tragic sinking of Cruise ship Costa Concordia. As the sequence of events dominated newspapers, front pages were splashed with shocking images of the accident. An important lesson here is where stories are placed. The juxtaposition of this cruise ship holiday advert with a photo of the Concordia was not a good move by this particular newspaper. Similarly, the Belfast Telegraph’s placement of it’s ‘Win A Dream Holiday’ competition right above its reporting of the Concordia news and the Guardian’s exclusive ‘Give Queen a new royal yacht…’ headline (more on this below), printed slap bang next to the disaster photos, was badly misjudged. This kind of mismatching doesn’t do much to sympathise with a story – be you a journalist, media buyer or reader.
Lesson #4: When did it take place?
Also on Monday this week, the Guardian splashed the exclusive news that education secretary Michael Gove believes a new yacht could be a suitable mark of respect for the Queen for her diamond jubilee. Alongside news of massive Olympic spending and rising transport costs – the timing of Gove’s letter did not really rally him support for the idea. As a double lesson in timing, the day the news hit the papers was also Blue Monday, dubbed the most depressing day of the year thanks to the arrival of Christmas credit card bills in homes across the country…