Samantha Brick, TV producer and journalist, writes a feature for the Daily Mail entitled ‘Why Do Women Hate Me For Being Beautiful?’ A headline ideally suited to the Daily Mail agenda. It’s easy journalism too – write about yourself and there’s no need to do any research for the story.
Some deemed it a journalistic success on the basis of the media coverage it delivered but the after effect obviously hit Samantha very hard on a personal level. Am I writing in her defence? Not really – you write such a headline to get a reaction and therefore you must be prepared to deal with the aftermath. And as I say it was a lazy piece of journalism.
Had Samantha bothered to research the subject in any depth she’d have found any number of interesting psychological studies to prove her point and provide a strong journalistic defence for her argument. But she didn’t.
Sam is not the only one to disappoint in this sorry saga.
The media also disappoints with their superficial coverage. Where was the attempt to find the real story behind this furore? Presumably it was far easier to go with the social media flow – editors and reporters must rub their hands in satisfaction. Ah, the joy of the age of user-generated content. Let the public do the job for you. Round up the comments and print. Twitter, Facebook and the rest of the social media do the work for you.
No, it doesn’t.
Public opinion is only one aspect of the story and repeating it without consideration and balance is shoddy, sloppy, biased journalism. What happened to digging deeper? To research? To working on a story? Too much like hard work, eh?
Let me refer you to a previous post where we quoted from a recent Skillset survey on the skills required by employers of journalists:
One of the interesting parts of the survey included quotes from employers about what’s missing in many TV workers and journalists, including the tendency to take the easy option when getting a story – relying on PR handouts, for example. They want and need people who can ferret out new stories and then tell the story well. One executive said:
“Reporters expect things to land in their laps and they don’t have to work for it. It’s a job and not a vocation [to them] and there’s lots of attitude when anyone is expected to go the extra mile. Initiative in getting stories is long gone and seems never to return.”
God knows I love ITV’s ‘This Morning’ and my admiration for the presenters knows no bounds but in my view they were let down. ‘This Morning’ gets Samantha Brick booked onto their sofa – what a great coup – and the nation is gagging to hear what the lady herself has to say. She gets to say her piece, no doubt the item got the ratings and everyone went away happy. But why did the editorial team, the producers not think to offer up an intelligent balanced feature with a woman who has single-handedly created a worldwide media storm? They missed a great opportunity to dig deeper into a fascinating subject – the role of personal attractiveness in social success (and why that leads to jealousy).
What happened to producing a feature? Are we lapsing into tick-box television journalism? Got the big guest booked – tick. Got an expert or commentator to offer an alternative point of view and create the conflict – tick. Gathered the Twitter, emails and other social comments – tick. And the research?
OK maybe that’s the way it works for tabloid content. Perhaps we should expect no more. No doubt the weekend broadsheets and supplements will follow up with more considered pieces.
And no doubt there are plenty of producers lining up to pitch a documentary on personal attractiveness and its role in the world’s perception of people. If not, I’m putting my hand up.
And the biggest disappointment?
Us. The public.
Like playground bullies we pounce on someone who makes the mistake of using herself to stir up controversy – and dares to suggest she is attractive (I’m not getting into that argument here but is it not better we think positively about ourselves than negatively? We spend forever trying to boost our children’s self esteem and get them to think of themselves as attractive and valuable and then shoot down the first person to say just that in public. And are a lot of women jealous of someone more attractive than them – of course they are!).
Once the ball was rolling it seems everyone decided it was OK to aim a kick. Did anyone suggest there may be an interesting topic here if everyone could just take a break from throwing bricks at Samantha long enough to consider it?
If Sam had been in a real playground she’d probably be smashed to a bloodied pulp by now. And would you have felt proud of your contribution?
Social media is fantastic. The age of the Internet is … well, beyond description in its incredible potential. Communication has never been so easy. Barriers and borders are irrelevant. Do we really want to use it to bully, threaten and beat up people who put a foot wrong or simply speak their mind? I do hope not.
Sam has hopefully leant a lesson about building her case with real research before throwing herself among the pigeons.
The tabloid media has probably learnt nothing other than the ease with which a social media storm delivers a superficial story for mass consumption.
And us? I hope we learn that throwing stones at someone just because everyone else is could lead to one very ugly situation.
Good luck Samantha. Do your homework next time and it you want a producer to make that documentary – the one that does real research into personal attractiveness and proves that being attractive will bring you untold advantages (and quite a few disadvantages!) – then just give me a call!
What do you think? Am I talking rubbish? Am I being unfair? Do you agree? Let me know. Leave a comment. Don’t leave me hanging here all on my own!
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Happy Easter everyone – make it a positive, friendly holiday. Throw no stones!