Thursday, 29 November 2007
Britain invades America

Not before time. Steve Boriss in Pajamas Media:

For the first time since the Beatles, there is a British invasion. The last one transformed our music, this one may transform our news.

When you visit a news stand in London, you instantly sense you are in a different country. Unlike the 1 or 2 daily papers you would see in a typical U.S. city, you may be confronted by 8 or more. The front pages bristle with excitement and vie for your attention. They are engaged in heated competition, a concept that seems so foreign to newspapers in America.

You might ask, if the competition among London newspapers is so fierce, how can so many of them survive? Wouldn’t all readers naturally gravitate to the best couple of them, putting the rest out of business as happened in so many American cities decades ago? The reason so many survive is that they deliberately appeal to different target audiences, and differentiate themselves from the others largely on the basis of - are you ready for this? - BIAS. While in modern American journalism, “bias” is a four-letter word, mixing facts and opinion has never troubled papers in London. The British also do not share American journalists’ prudish disdain for “boobs” and humor. The differences in their intended target audiences is so obvious, even their front pages transparently appeal to those of different worldviews, socio-economic statuses, and tastes.

For just about any reader, London’s views-papers and boobs-papers make for a lot more enjoyable reading than America's dull fare. Their titles include the Morning Star (Far Left), the Guardian (Left), the Daily Mirror (Center-Left Tabloid), the Sun (Center "T & A" Tabloid), the Daily Mail (Center-Right Tabloid), the Times of London (Center-Right), the Financial Times (Center-Right Business), and the Telegraph (Right).

Using this as a key, you should now be able to follow this skit from the British TV comedy "Yes Prime Minister."

London's viewsy, witty, and naughty newspapers now point to the future of news. America’s snoozy, prissy, and haughty papers had better wake up.

So, will we see Hillary Clinton's melons on Page 3 of the New York Times? Tastes differ. I may be wrong, but I can't imagine the following passage by Caitlin Moran in the London Times appearing in the New York Times, or for that matter in any quality paper other than a British one. Some readers may recognise it from my article Bossom:

“Boobs” are too Benny Hill. Boobs are perfectly spherical, bouncing, jokey — you might as well refer to your “pink chest clowns” and have done with it. Boobs are also, by and large, white and working class — you don’t really get Bangladeshi boobs, or boobs from Bahrain, or the boobs of Lady Antonia Fraser. Boobs are what Jordan and Pamela Anderson and Barbara Windsor have — except when Barbara had a breast cancer storyline in EastEnders, when they quickly became “breasts”. “Boobs”, of course, can’t get cancer, or lactate, or be subject to the subtle erotic arts of the Tao. Boobs exist only to jiggle up and down on the chests of women between the ages of 14 and 32, after which they get too droopy, and then presumably fall off the face of the Earth, into space, maybe to eventually become part of the giant rings of Saturn. “Bosom” sounds a bit Les Dawson...

“Cleavage” doesn’t work, obviously — “I have a pain in my cleavage” — and neither does “Embonpoint”, because it sounds both embroidered and pointy, and so would cease to exist when you took your bra off. “Tits” seems nicely down-to-earth for day-to-day use — “Give me a KitKat, I’ve just caught my tit in the door” — but struggles to make a satisfactory transition to night-time use, where it seems a little too brusque. Personally, I quite like the idea of “The Guys” — but then that’s also how I refer to my seven brothers and sisters, and as potential confusion there could lead to an even greater incidence of mental illness than we already have, I’ll probably have to leave it be. 

Isn't this all a bit vulgar? Should the New York Times really talk about tits with such gay abandon?  Well, from what I gather, the New York Times, AKA New Duranty Times, should not be too po-faced about this. After all, it's been talking through its arse for long enough. 

Posted on 11/29/2007 6:06 AM by Mary Jackson
29 Nov 2007
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Howls of laffter, Mare. Thanks!

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