Too much news!

11 Jul 2018  |  Raymond Snoddy 
Too much news!

Two news birds with one stone: the Sun on Monday

Sometimes there are just too many stories all happening at the same time. There’s the football, hardline Brexiteers spinning out of the Cabinet, the other football team in Thailand, the Wild Boars, the Murdoch-Comcast penalty shoot-out over the future of Sky, the most intense heat wave since 1976, the death of a novichok victim and Wimbledon.

To cap it all President Trump turns up in Europe to ease any tensions.

Why can’t stories queue up in an orderly British fashion rather than all rushing the door all at once?

You could see the inbuilt tension in the minds of The Sun editors. There’s this really serious dilemma between England making it to the World Cup semi-final against Croatia and Boris jumping ship and being replaced by Jeremy Hunt, as Foreign Secretary, apparently because unlike footy fan Michael Gove, Hunt is not afraid of flying.

From the point of view of a popular tabloid The Sun solved its problem imaginatively by sticking Boris Johnson in an England shirt with a message to warring politicians - “Don’t you know there’s a bloody game on?”

Alas, high affairs of state, for some reason, don’t always wait for bloody games, however important.

The Times, while giving due weight to a Cabinet in crisis and Johnson’s view that “the Brexit dream is dying”, found a neat way of getting a football story on the front page with reports that strict rules banning mobile phones from being used near the Wimbledon courts will be eased for the World Cup semi-final, and presumably the final on Sunday - if relevant.

But it is the headline craftsmen from The Sun who have best caught the public mood.

When the Germans plunged out of the World Cup the headline: Schadenfreude with the helpful explanation – “noun (from the German) Pleasure derived from another person’s misfortune,” was a master-stroke.

“Well Played Lads” when England reserves lost 1-0 to Belgium thereby winning a plausible route to the final, was also spot on but has The Sun now overplayed its hand by producing a brilliant spread for the semi-final? The team of 1966 are interspersed with their present day counterparts. It is a nice conceit, which also demonstrates how diverse British football and society has become in the intervening years.

But surely that would be the ideal spread for Saturday’s paper. Maybe having seen the quality of the French team the paper is hedging its bets and getting the retaliation in first.

Perhaps the football has been a welcome distraction for The Sun and the other Brexit-loving papers. It has to some extent obscured the unpalatable truth that Prime Minister May has gone for a compromise soft Brexit without ever quite saying so and choosing at least a form of reality over Boris' daydreams.

For now, and maybe even for the rest of this week, they can wrap the flag of St George around themselves and indulge in the feel-good factor before they might too have to face reality and explain to their readers the economic consequences of an increasingly possible no-deal Brexit.

For now it’s good news all round - for waistcoat manufacturers, Nike, brewers, bookies - though there are far too many betting ads on television and something must be done, although that’s a story for another day.

It’s also great news for ITV who have the England v Croatia semi-final and will surely score an audience of more than 30 million for live broadcast television. Those who can’t get to a TV set, or are stuck at Wimbledon, streaming is a useful option but one that will be used by perhaps 3-4 million and has the disadvantage that the stream could be running up to 20 seconds behind reality.

In a big live sports event 20 seconds can make all the difference - the world and mobile phones can go crazy at an England goal while streamers are still stuck in the wrong half of the pitch.

The BBC will of course stroll to victory in the final - they always do.

An England win and the feel good factor it will engender will be very good for the general economy and will even boost national productivity once the initial hangover has faded.

Headline writers will be permanently stuck in overdrive and maybe, just maybe, some more newspapers will be sold than otherwise would have been the case.

The achievements of footballers should not be allowed to eclipse the performance of the UK’s magnificent free-style cave diving team.

If there are gongs for a successful England football team there should be decorations for those who risked their lives to rescue a foolhardy Thai football team.

Whoever advises Manchester United on its marketing and PR policy has already played a blinder by inviting the Thai team to Old Trafford when they have recovered and the football season gets under way.

As for the Sky penalty shoot-out Murdoch has hit one straight into the top corner with a £14 a share valuing Sky at £24.5 billion after Comcast had slid a cheeky £22 billion bid down the middle.

This game is not over yet with at least two more shots to come, which might take the cost towards £18 a share.

Comcast really, really wants to win but when Rupert Murdoch really focuses on something he really concentrates and could now easily win this penalty shoot-out.

A slight complication: the referee has been changed in the middle of the proceedings and yet another Culture Secretary, Jeremy Wright, takes over the whistle from Matt Hancock who has been kicked off the pitch and promoted to Health Secretary as part of the collateral damage caused by the Boris resignation.

Hancock was minded to approve the Fox deal as long as Sky News is sold to Disney.

The rules of this game haven’t changed, only the referee, so Rupert Murdoch will probably win the regulatory contest.

In the real game, the important game, England will beat Croatia 3-2 after a really tough game and raise their performance to a new level in the final to beat clever, talented France on penalties.

A hopeless optimistic speaks.

Then there will be a desperate tussle in the papers over possession of the Jules Rimet trophy – whether it will be stolen again as a symbol for the Brexiteers, or be a temporary distraction from the terrible reality that may be about to be born in Brussels.

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TobyBeresford, CEO, on 11 Jul 2018
“At least it's still called the Jules Rimet trophy, something stable in a shifting.... wait a second.”