Saturday, May 16, 2009

Egg blast hed row prof in Page 3 fury

Over to the Log, Geoff Pullum brings a delightfully incomprehensible hed:


... and dissects it cleanly in all its tabloid spendour. More interesting, though, is his brief visit to the land of Page 3:

Poppy looks delightful dressed in nothing but those tiny pink underpants. (The page 3 feature is called "News in Briefs", you see: each day they print a quote about current events that they claim to have obtained from a young woman between the ages of about 17 and about 27, beside a full-frontal picture of the author of the remark, dressed only in panties. ...)

Now you've got my attention. I didn't know the Scottish Sun ran News In Briefs, which I had thought of as a uniquely English part of the Sun. Last time I read it, the Irish edition of the Sun had the same half-naked Page 3 Girl as the London edition (Krystle from Manchester), except that in Dublin there was no "from Manchester" -- and no "News in Briefs," the little talk-bubble of popular culture that Dr. Pullum is referring to.

Why? Well, here's where we could really use some long-term sociolinguistic observation from Scotland and Wales. News in Briefs covers a wider range than the vast tracts of land you see on Page 3 itself. It's about -- well, let's let Krystle from Manchester explain it:

Krystle said of John Lydon’s four-letter outburst: “I couldn’t believe my ears. There must have been loads of young children watching the eviction. It shows that ITV should have a time delay before broadcasting." (This was the famous case in which Johnny Rotten, appearing on a reality show, managed to refer to some people as "f***ing c***s" before the timer caught up with him)

Music lover Krystle was thrilled to see the Darkness triumph at the Brits. She said: “It’s great to see an old-fashioned rock group doing well. Justin and the boys have crushed all the bland pop acts that have dominated our charts. I hope they’re around for some time.”

Krystle says the Government is right to crack down on booze bingeing. She said: “We all like to enjoy a sociable drink every now and then. Like everything else, booze is fine in moderation. But some people are out of control. It’s got to stop.”

Krystle thinks it’s daft the Royals have banned Sun snapper Arthur Edwards from William’s next photocall. She said: “Arthur is a legend. It’s childish to try to punish him like this."

Do you get the idea that News in Briefs is actually all about --- family values? Here are a few more:

Shocked Katie (editor's note: Katie, 19, from Liverpool) was furious to hear how Britain’s jails are being blighted by political correctness. She said: “Criminals are in prison to be punished. Warders must be able to show they’re in charge and not have to pussyfoot around inmates.”

Ruth (Ruth, 23, from Bolton) is desperate to see Abu Hamza kicked out of Britain. She said: “He’s a sponger and he has got to go. I’m not at all surprised that the Sun has been swamped with support for its campaign.”

Zoe (22, from London) is certain Tony Blair was right to take Britain into the war with Iraq. She said: “You don’t need to be an international diplomat to realise the world is better off without Saddam. We should be proud of what has been achieved.”

Charlotte (19, from Ipswitch) reckons Tony Blair will be stunned by The Sun’s poll on the EU constitution. She said: “The PM will choke on his cornflakes when he reads how many Sun readers don’t want him to sign up to the constitution. In his heart of hearts, he knows they represent the country.”

Natasha (21, from Torquay) welcomed the Budget move to sweep away Whitehall waste. She said: “I don’t want my tax wasted on pen-pushers and bureaucrats. The axe should fall next on those in silly politically-correct council jobs.”

Those were from our tour in the London buro* a few years back, so as a responsible researcher, we asked Lexis-Nexis to bring us up to date:

Amii is saddened by Gordon Brown signing away British sovereignty. She said: "The people don't want this but he's done it anyway."

Rhian was left in fits of giggles by the mickey-taking "politically correct" Christmas card. She said: "It's a great idea -and shows up the silliness of the PC brigade."

Becky will be behind England's footie stars on Wednesday. She said: "Let's hope they show why they deserve a place at Euro 2008."

Keeley was delighted so many Sun readers backed an EU referendum. She said: "Britain has spoken. Now Gordon Brown must show he's a man of his word and let us vote."

Katie Marie congratulated England on beating the French --at CONKERS. She said: "William The Conquerer might have been a winner all those years ago. But now England always smashes the Frogs."

See what I mean? News in Briefs isn't about the naughty bits. Something else is going on. I thought it was English, but if Poppy's carrying on in the Scottish Sun, it might be something else. Transmarine readers, please advise.

*Don't use the Berkeley Square address! That's just there to yank Torchwood's chain. The London bureau is just south of Pembridge Square.


Anonymous Ed said...

The thing is that the Scottish Sun, however well-branded and Caledonian-focused it is, is still the Sun, and therefore still a London paper at heart. Most of the Fleet Street nationals do Scottish editionalising to a greater or lesser extent (greater in the case of the Sun and the Sunday Times, for instance), but people in Scotland understand such things for what they are. They aren't the truly Scottish-originated, endogenous, Glasgow- or Edinburgh-headquartered papers - like, say, the Herald, the Scotsman, Scotland on Sunday or the Daily Record.

Just as government in Scotland is partly devolved from, but not wholly independent of, the UK as a whole, so the Scottish media ecosystem is partly devolved from, but not wholly independent of, Fleet Street and UK news as a whole. So Krystle and co aren't attempting to articulate the mood of the Highlands and Borders so much as they're bringing news of what's bothering Rupert's agenda-setting emissaries down in the Smoke.

And to be fair to Krystle, she seems to be a somewhat more moderate and good-humoured commentator than whoever writes the Sun's actual leader columns.

7:07 AM, May 17, 2009  

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