Tuesday, 6 July 2010

The Five Most Pointless Types of ‘News’ on Digital Spy

We realise, this is going to come as a shock to any readers who’ve just awoken from a twenty year long coma, but there is a worrying surplus of “entertainment news” these days. Of course, by “entertainment news”, we mean “painfully desperate rehashing of press releases”. Back in the Golden Age Of Hollywood, it would have been “Humphrey Bogart in bar brawl with gibbon”, “Brando to be first man on Venus?” or “Hedy Lamarr invents torpedo guidance system” (that last one isn’t a joke, by the way), but now we’re expected to feign interest on learning that Jeremy Clarkson said something a bit right-wing, Paris Hilton is thinking of buying a hat, or that Lady Gaga has heard of Finland.

For reasons which we can’t even explain to ourselves, we keep looking at Digital Spy. Mainly out of some idiotic sense of loyalty, because we remember when it used to be called DigiNews, and was mainly concerned with announcing new channels popping up or closing down on the then-new Sky Digital service (“Bah, ITV are still refusing to put any of their channels on Sky”). Since then, it’s grown, taking in more mainstream types of news story (i.e. those appealing to non-spods), and grown into a hugely popular website as a result. Meanwhile, BrokenTV has remained resolutely unpopular and not that good. Why? Because we’ve got integrity, dammit.

image BrokenTV, post-relaunch.

Problem is, in order to keep that all important stream of stories coming, all packed with lovely clickable advertising and ‘Tweet this!’ buttons, pretty much anything is considered ‘news’ on the site. One of today’s main stories on Digital Spy is headlined “Alistair Campbell booed on ‘Top Gear’”, the fascinating story of some people in the audience booing the former Labour press secretary, in a TV show already broadcast two days ago, and recorded almost a full week ago.

image See? The entire news story is just someone typing in a few events from a TV show that aired a few days ago. What next? “Adrian Chiles wears pastel coloured shirt on ITV’s World Cup coverage”? “Kirsty Wark brushes hair before appearing on screen”? It really doesn’t stop there, either. There are thousands upon thousands of what we’ll call ‘antinews’ stories on DS, meaning we’ve had to come up with a few categorisations for them. Here’s a quick rundown of the five most pointless types of bandwidth slurry since, well, the BrokenTV Twitter feed.

5. “Minor Celebrity X Slams Minor Celebrity Y”

imageThat’s Perez Hilton, the vapid, fame-hungry and pointless ‘celebrity’ blogger (hey, we can smell our own), attacking Jordan, for seeking publicity. You see, that’s what bloggers do. We snipe. We criticise. We attack those in the public eye that we conceive as having no inherent talent, mainly because we want to be in the public eye despite having no detectable talent ourselves. See? We’re doing just that right now!

The story includes a Hilton remark on how he doesn’t care about Jordan’s marriage to That Bloke From Celebrity Big Brother Even Though He Wasn’t A Celebrity Before He Went Into The Celebrity Big Brother House (or ‘Alex’ for short). That only really reminds us of the annoying cockwads you often notice on internet forums who like to pop up in threads about Big Brother, Lost, Doctor Who or the World Cup, pointedly remarking that they don’t care about Big Brother, Lost, Doctor Who or the World Cup, as if anyone could possibly give a flying fuck about their indifference, considering everyone else in those threads are there specifically because they do care about those shows. We can only really assume that these people also make a habit of barging into support group meetings in local church halls, and loudly proclaiming that they’ve never been an alcoholic, suffered from depression or been molested by a trusted relative, and then seeming to want a fucking medal.

4. “Quite Famous Person Says Thing On Social Networking Feed”

image Ah, Twitter. Where would desperate hacks be without it? In the olden days, they had to wait for a press release from a minor celebrity’s ‘people’ before copy-pasting it into a story and adding their name at the top of the page. Now, thanks to Twitter, those days of waiting for pointless fluff are gone! Just hover around a celebrity Twitter feed, wait until they get a little bit peeved about something or someone, and hey presto, one instant story. Maybe even offering up the chance to use one of those verbs you only ever see in lazy tabloid stories somewhere in the headline. “X SLAMS Y”, “A SNUBS B”, that kind of thing, as above.

It needn’t even be something negative, it needn’t even be something that’s actually happened yet. Simply keep pressing F5 on your chosen celebrity Twitter page until they reply to a fan question, and you’ve got a story right there. “Stephen Fry looking forward to new iPhone”. “Britney admits love of watching DVDs”. “Demi Moore wouldn’t much fancy being set ablaze”. “Lazy-arsed journalist shoots fish in barrel”.

One wonderful example of this is here. Annoying focus-grouped ‘pop rebel’ Pink complains about employees at a hotel she was staying at not bringing her luggage as quickly as she’d like. And, that’s about it. Phew, eh?

3. “Person Proud Of Not Fucking Up At Work”

image Another theme that crops up quite often is people, who have done something, stating that they’re proud of the thing they’ve just done. Now, this surely doesn’t qualify as ‘news’? “[Marcus] Bentley proud of ‘iconic’ Big Brother”?  "'24' exec: 'I'm proud of final season'"? "JLS 'really proud' of new single"? "Callies: 'I'm proud of Prison Break'"? All tremendously obvious stuff. If any of these people had expressed “deep shame and regret” at their most recent projects, then that might count as actual news. If they’re proud of it, why bother publishing it. It’s about as pointless as saying someone likes Jaffa Cakes.

Another pride-based non-story is where people express their aims of hopefully being proud of something in the future. “Rampal: 'I want to make my family proud'”, "'Idol' DeWyze 'wants to be proud of album'", “Nicola: 'Poppy will be so proud of me'”. Yes, well done. We’re hoping BrokenTV’s mum will print out this blog update, and stick it on the fridge. That doesn’t mean it’s necessarily going to happen, and nor does it mean any of these stories have an ounce of merit. Quite frankly, the only time we want to see a headline containing the word “pride” on Digital Spy from now on, is when the story involves a collection of lions.

2. “Shock Announcement of Thing Everyone was Expecting Anyway.”

image When you’re famous enough, you no longer actually just ‘mention’ things. Instead you ‘reveal’ things. Got a producer lined up for your forthcoming album? Well, when you mention who that is, it’s not merely an announcement, it’s a revelation. A revelation of such staggering magnitude, it is genuinely worthy of that book in The Bible. You know, what’s it called… The First Epistle of Paul to the Thessalonians? (Reader’s voice: “You mean The Book of Revelations, you dolt.”)

Almost always, the revelations really don’t deserve use of that word. it’s not as if Kylie had kept the executive producer of her new album under a silk sheet for months before inviting the world’s press to a glitzy unveiling ceremony, where it’s revealed to be… GASP! Stuart Price, who has produced lots of albums a bit like Kylies new album in the past. And quite often, the news being revealed isn’t even new. On the 26th of May, DS reported that “Christina Aguilera has revealed the full songwriting and production credits for her new album”, even though all the information therein had been doing the rounds since the previous year. Basically, “reveals…” can easily be substituted with “would like to remind everyone that they have a new product coming out soon, wherein…”.

1. “I’ve Not Done Anything Worth Mentioning, So I’ll Mention A Beckham.”

image image image image Are you a minor celebrity, or maybe even a nutjob scientologist Hollywood actor? Have you done absolutely shag-all of artistic worth recently? Desperate for some column inches, but don’t want to go outside? Then simply MentionABeckham™! Online publications love it when you do this, as it gives them a wonderful opportunity to print a photo of a grinning David or pouting Victoria alongside the article, meaning you’re bound to get your story published, and your name fleetingly associated with the hottest surname in showbiz.

It really is a cert for getting your name out there. Dimwitted readers who skim-read the story might even assume you’re actually good chums with the Beckhams, and if your star is shining especially brightly at the moment, it’ll be your face used for the lead photo – a handy barometer of your current value.

However, there are rules that must be adhered to. You’re only allowed to say nice things about David, unless you’ve somehow time-travelled back to July 1998 and it’s still the immediate aftermath of his sending off against Argentina. You can however feel free to bitch about Victoria – how about trying to be the billionth person on the planet to make the astonishing revelation that she’s not a very good singer? Or that she’s a bit ‘up herself’? If you’re a really lucky female celebrity, you could even cultivate an image as her nemesis! Whizzer to her Chips. A Dalek to her Doctor. Moriarty to her Holmes. And not, say, a bitter has-been or never-will desperately clamouring for attention in the only place still nothing to be on nodding terms with you. That’s what Digital Spy is there for!


It’s not all pointless, fluff, of course. When picking through the bones to come up with those stories, we discovered the Mulligan and O’Hare are to make an appearance in the forthcoming series of Shooting Stars, which is wonderful news, but it’s so annoying to have to delve through acres of valueless drek in order to get to a few actual pieces of interest. We can only assume that the people behind Digital Spy will soon tire of their tens of thousands of hits per day and genuinely profitable web-based business model, and soon revert to the main story being a rundown of Astra test transmission frequencies.


3 .:

Danofthewibble said...

Of course, they're unlikely to tire of their business model. Not now that they are part of the sprawling IPC Empire. Though they make curiously little reference to it on the site.

Merseytart said...

I got a really good deal on Sky+ via Digital Spy in the days when its forums used to deal with encoder issues. Now it makes Heat look like careful well thought out journalism.

My favourite recent story was the news that Javier Bardem would be in Glee, followed the next day by a story saying that Javier Bardem would not be appearing in Glee...

Graham said...


They make curiously little mention of the fact they're owned by IPC because they're not owned by IPC.

This is a trick employed by many websites not owned by IPC.


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