Nobody’s perfect – right?

Apart from one boyfriend in my distant past – I don’t think I’ve met anyone who truly believes they are perfect.

In fact anyone who even thinks this way is obviously so self-obsessed that it counts them out anyway.

So while I may rant on here about poor journalism, bad grammar or apostrophe abuse (three of my pet hates) I thought I would share some examples of my own foibles.

Probably my worst was my understanding of the word anxiety.

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Is it better to wonder then wander…?

I seem to have become a bit of a nag about language and pronunciation this month, but I have to admit it is something that really bothers me.

Some reading this headline will hopefully want to comment straight away that surely it should read ‘…wonder THAN wander’.

But maybe I was meaning it to be a sequential thing. I was wondering about something and then went wandering off…

Before I lose you completely, it drives me round the bend the number of times I see the use of the word then – when the person clearly means than.

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Just aksing…

I’m all for language evolution, it really fascinates me, but something that concerns me is the increasingly common use of the word ‘aks’ instead of ask.

I heard this very occasionally in the UK and assumed it was dialectal, specific to certain communities, possibly derived from a pidgin or creole language. You commonly hear it now on TV or in films especially among some Americans.

But increasingly I hear it from university students that have no cultural background from where this could have emerged. I would be interested to hear their parents speak – do they say it – and if so, where did they pick it up from?

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Dead talent on air…

Now that would make a headline wouldn’t it?

But it makes me laugh just how often you hear journalists say this:

“Joe Bloggs joins me live on air…” or “joining me live in the studio…”

One would hope so!

And I have to admit as a former BBC radio presenter I’m guilty of doing this myself.

It’s our obsession to be “live” on air, as it’s happening, at the scene.

As I mentioned in my last blog Choppergate – a media minefield commercial networks in particular are obsessed with live crosses to a reporter at the scene who in turn live links into a pre-packaged report.

But sometimes it’s just not possible to do the cross “live”. The connection drops out, the talent is only available at a certain time etc.

In this case the best solution is an “as live” or a “look live”.

The cross/interview/segment is recorded at the scene as though it were live. It looks and sounds exactly the same as it would had it been done live.

Some may question the use of such techniques but I actually don’t have a problem with this.

I have recorded many “as lives”. Usually because there wasn’t a clear signal at the location to do the report live.

I would record the piece as though it were live. Drive down the road and as soon as I had a clear signal I would play the report down the line – either to a producer to use as and when – or sometimes I would play it directly into the program.

The crucial point is as long as you don’t actually state that you are crossing “live” to the person.

That’s when it becomes an ethical issue.

As long as the reporter has been at the scene talking to people and reports back accurately it doesn’t matter if they are doing it live or if they recorded it five minutes ago.

They are not going to say or do anything differently.

Chances are – if you say it’s live and it isn’t – something will go wrong with the recording and your audience will immediately realise it’s not live as you had claimed.

That’s a deception and that’s when it becomes unethical.

Just saying.

Choppergate… a media minefield

I still stand by the old ethic that the first rule of journalism is accuracy. Many of my colleagues in the media will fiercely nod their heads at this – while most people not in the media will probably just laugh out loud.

The ‘Choppergate’ scandal – as it has become known – is an interesting case in point.

But what I find even more surprising than the fact it happened – is the media’s constant mis-reporting of what exactly the scandal was in the first place.

A quick internet search and you will repeatedly see it described as:

“…two faked live crosses from its news helicopter at the weekend…”

“…journalists embroiled in the “Choppergate” fake live-cross scandal…”

“…journalists involved in faking a live cross to the Nine News chopper…”

They were not “fake” live crosses.

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Scandal and indisposition…

We’ve been clearing out our clutter.

It was well overdue as some boxes hadn’t been opened since we moved two years ago.

I highly recommend it. Not only have we got rid of so much rubbish – we found a few little gems to boot.

My first great find was a sort-of scrap book my maternal grandmother put together. Old newspaper cuttings of births, deaths and marriages of people she knew, interesting stories and other tidbits that caught her attention from the 1930s to the late 1970s.

I found one entry headlined: Mrs A. Fairbrother. It was the funeral notice of my paternal grandmother Annie Fairbrother. It went on to list the mourners including the line: “Mrs R. Fairbrother (daughter-in-law) was unable to attend owing to indisposition.”

That was my heavily pregnant mother and I was the indisposition. Mentioning pregnancy or the imminent birth of a second child was obviously a bit too much information.

I never knew my grandmother on my father’s side. She died following a fall just before I was born. Two different newspaper cuttings list her age as 74 and 75 – good to see accuracy/consistency was alive and well in journalism then.

My grandmother who had kept all these cuttings had an interesting past.

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Just get the crap out of there!

Sorry for the crude headline – but really – authorities should understand what they are saying/publishing.

This yesterday:

24 January 2012
Moreton Bay Regional Council is advising residents in Dale Street and immediate surrounds in Burpengary to self-evacuate this afternoon.

See: Burpengary residents urged to evacuate

It was a common error throughout the 2011 floods in Queensland. Constantly authorities were asking people to self-evacuate.

Think about it – to evacuate oneself – what are they actually asking people to do?

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The lady’s not for turning

A friend recently asked me if I would be going to see the film The Iron Lady. “Most likely,” I replied.

The answer was true. I do want to see the film – mostly for the much acclaimed portrayal by actress Meryl Streep of Britain’s first and to-date only female Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher.

My friend who has seen the film went on to say: “I just thought she was brilliant standing up for what she thought was right and up against all those male colleagues – has to be good for women!”

I had to take a deep breath and count to 10.

Margaret Thatcher

Former British PM Margaret Thatcher. Credit: HM Government

I grew up in Thatcher’s Britain in the 1980s and I remember the miners’ strike, the poll tax, the riots. I remember a country divided and the poor seemingly just getting poorer. I remember unemployment reaching more than three million.

I also remember one odd moment of unity – sort of – over the Falkland Islands. I remember a moment of pride that our small country stood up for a place apparently that was British but was on the other side of the world and no-one had ever heard of before.

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