Saturday, 26 October 2013

The Newsroom series 2 so far

With the final episode of series 2 on Sky Atlantic HD this Monday, I thought I would blog about the series so far and my thoughts on series 3.
Initially the format, switching between the present and past events was hard to follow but then again writer Aaron Sorkin does like to tease his viewers!
But the more you got into the guts of the story - a shambolic failure which resulted in a completely
made up story going to air - the better it got.
Jeff Daniels (Will) is winning Golden Globes aplenty at the moment and you can see why, the closing two minutes of episode five are some of the most emotional I have seen on television.
But Emily Mortimer (Mac) and Sam Waterston (Charlie) deserve huge praise, each in their own way has added to the drama and made journalism accessible.
Every journalist takes on the big stories and has to ask 'is my source credible' and sometimes it does get as far as print/broadcast.
'If something is too good to be true it probably is' does not necessarily apply in journalism, sometimes the truth is out there but proving it can be the nightmare.
What makes this show great is that nothing about the newsroom itself has been glammed up, what
you see it what goes on in newsrooms all over the world.
But it needs actors to bring it alive and Aaron Sorkin has enlisted the best, Daniels, Mortimer and Waterston not only shine but drag Thomas Sadoski (Don) John Gallagher Jr (Jim), Alison Pill
(Maggie) and Olivia Munn (Sloan) into the sunshine with them.
The Will and Mac love story has been sustained into the second season with the right amount of love/hate typical of a once linked pair.
Pain and humour are inter-twined and I love Will's sarcasm throughout this series and his sometime complete lack of understanding of the world away from the anchor desk.
The reveal that 'Genoa' was spectacularly wrong was brilliant, Sorkin spent six episodes building the story and smashed all the very plausable sources for the story in just an hour or so.
One of the highlights of series 1 for me was the use of music to close the episodes into the titles, this has been missing this series.
However, Sorkin has replaced them with killer lines such as Charlie's: “The broadcast finished at 10pm, by five past we knew we had a problem, none of it was true.”
Maggie's emotional turmoil is explained well enough, I would have liked a bit more but I guess that could be in the series finale.
Series 3? Yes please, I just hope Sorkin has enough material to play with away from the news stories on which every episode is built.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Facebook's Face Palm moment

FACEBOOK's decision to lift its ban on beheading videos has provoked much debate around the world.

Firstly for me, why was it a temporary ban? It's hardly censorship to say we don't want you to see human beings getting their heads chopped off!

Secondly and most importantly, is this really what we want young people looking at? Jeez I am no prude but surely no teenager wants to see this or am I getting on a bit?

Finally, we live in a dangerous world where terrorists seek and crave the publicity social media can

It used to be videos on You Tube but social media is the next gruesome frontier for terrorists to make their point and get their messages across.

Showing videos of people being beheaded plays down a rather dangerous corridors that we may struggle to return from.

I wasn't going to blog on this, started work on revamping the blog you see, but a text chat with a
friend of mine convinced me to write something.

She mentioned it to me and pointed out she was banned from showing a picture of her breastfeeding her son because it was deemed nudity.

Now her son laughing at the camera in just a nappy, that was fine and dandy but one of the most natural things in the world is deemed 'offensive'.

As offensive as watching life end in one of the most brutal ways Facebook? Yes I watch Game of Thrones and see beheading once in every three episodes but those actors are playing parts.

The sort of videos Facebook is now letting through are real people losing their very real lives and to be honest the decision stinks.

Care to explain Facebook? Seems a weird decision for a company listed on the Stock Exchange, I wonder what the investors think?

REVIEW: Football Manager Stole My Life

BACK Page Press have hit the back of the net with Football Manager Stole My Life, if you not a fan of Football Manager you will be by the end of this book.

If you are a fan (spelt a d d i c t as many of us are) this book will help explain that the weird things you do as a result of playing Football Manager are perfectly normal.

Imaginary press conferences in the shower, suit on for the cup final, doodling tactics on a notebook at your real job? Yes all normal and all sign the game has got you good!

What I loved about the book though is while it’s written for the Football Manager fan, it sells the game to a wider audience.

I know of a couple of friends who have become rather hooked AFTER reading this book, sorry to them in advance for mentioning it!

From the tales of the legends of the computer game on how they got in the real game to tales of celebrities and TV presenters who have become lost in the game, Football Manager Stole My Life has it all.

It’s amazing to read how many pro footballers play the game and pick themselves and how many people have had encounters with footballers and sought to tell them about how the pro rates in FM.

Some people will never understand the fascination (my better half included who talks about the dots on the screen) but those of us who play it will never be able to quit – god knows I’ve tried!

Leading Leyton Orient from League 2 to eight in the Premier League (CM 01/02), 33 years in charge of Arsenal (FM 2006) and Southampton from League One to the Premier League are among the highlights.

Playing as Wycombe on the verge of play off and possible automatic promotion cost me a night’s sleep – only when I lost the play off final 8-7 on penalties did I realise it was 6.10am and I had to be ‘up’ in an hour!

Special mention has to go to Iain Macintosh for the Heidenheim chronicles which close the book, won’t spoil it but you will feel his pain and yes, understand the madness!

Bravo Back Page Press, a man of the match performance with this one!

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Cameron should attack UKIP, the UK Tea Party

'We want our country back' boomed Nigel Farage at UKIPs annual conference.

Aside from the obvious falsehood that the country has not gone anywhere, it nevertheless remains a statement of intent.

Farage is shrewd, canny and clever and talks about taking votes from all parties. The truth is he wants to do to the Conservative Party what the Tea Party did to the Republican Party in the United States, suck them dry and become a real voice on the right of British politics.

The Tea Party lured so many 'traditional' Republican voters that the GOP has picked extremely right wing candidates in last two Presidential races in a bid to secure the Tea Party votes.

Not brilliant when they are up against a mixed race president who shattered many social stigmas when he won the presidency.

The result is a Republican party which eschews candidates like Chris Christie and promotes the likes of Romney, Perry and Herman Cain.

It’s an influence which is now keenly felt on Capitol Hill and UKIP would love to recreate that at Westminster.

A pact is about likely as snow in the Mojave Desert - Farage doesn’t like Cameron’s brand of Conservatism and Cameron doesn’t like Farage and UKIP period.

So 2015 there will be a choice for Conservative leaning voters – the Tories or UKIP. Do they abandon a Conservative Party they don’t like under Cameron and install a Labour Prime Minister or back Cameron and risk being alienated even further.

And that’s why I think Cameron was understated at his party conference this week, safe and steady speech stressing the need for a safe and steady hand on the economy.

Interestingly there was a strong focus on backing big business by attacking Labour’s plans to halt the Corporation Tax and an admission about the furore over gay marriage – a gentle prod back at UKIP.

The Prime Minister may have looked down the camera and not in the hall but I think it was a speech designed to speak to lifelong Tory voters.

If Cameron can persuade them he embodies many classic Tory values as well as those of 21st century Britain he may see off the UKIP threat.

If he can’t then he may go down in history as the Conservative PM who failed to win what many considered an easy election in 2010 and then lost because of a party with no MPs at Westminster currently.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Mail's attack on Miliband's father shows how low we have sunk

The piece on Ralph Miliband in Saturday's Mail has proven just how low we as a country have sunk.

Not wanting to debate his policies, fact check his claims and lay out how much they would cost the country if elected, Paul Dacre has gone for the lowest of blows and smeared a dead man.

Ralph Miliband died in 1994, seven years before Ed Miliband became part of Tony Blair's Government and almost a decade before Ed was elected as an MP.

Yet now is the time to declare Ralph 'hated' Britain. We'll ignore he escaped to this country away from Hitler's persecution of the Jews, we'll also ignore Ralph actually fought for his country against the evils of Nazism.

But because he was a thinker, because he believed in a different way, because he did not like the Britain he was a part of, he was this evil being?

No, he wanted better for his country, wanted better for his children, something we all want on a daily basis and have the right at the ballot box.

The Mail justify it by saying Miliband speaks highly of his father, who wouldn't? His father braved the Nazi's twice, once to escape for a better life and secondly to stop Hitler inflciting the Nazism on the rest of the world!

But to suggest a plot, a conspiracy is lunacy, when Ralph died in 1994, both Miliband brothers had not even been thought of as MPs!

What sickens and saddens me more is the lack of outrage from a number of people on the right, Boris Johnson and Prime Minister David Cameron have backed Ed's right to defend his father but not condemned the Mail for its actions.

No surprise given the Mail's predominately Tory readership but this is not how we do politics, sullying the dead who cannot respond.

Sometimes it's cringy but I do not mind seeing politicians talk about their upbringing, you could see the love between David Cameron and his father on the campaign trail in 2010.

We cannot deny our parentage, we are made from the union of one man and one woman, nor should we.

But there is a line which should be crossed, attacks on the dead with the aim of suppressing the work of the child is not the act of a decent society.

It's also rather hypocritical of the Mail given their attacks on groups of people who, wrongly, 'celebrated' the death of Margaret Thatcher.

As a journalist, I vehemently oppose the introduction of the Royal Charter, but if it's introduced, after this then I would not be surprised.

Shame on you Dacre, Shame on you Daily Mail