Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Why readers shouldn't view things so Bleakley

Christine Bleakley
Christine Bleakley
Christine Bleakley

Last Saturday, the Belfast Telegraph gave over three pages to an interview with Christine Bleakley. It was a revealing insight into the mind of a young woman at the centre of a media firestorm.

The story has, of course, all the ingredients of perfect tabloid fodder - beautiful young TV star engaged to Premiership footballer, hounded by paparazzi and trapped in a nightmare world of falling ratings. Or something like that: all that's missing is a 'royal' angle.

Christine's story - based on a BBC interview to be broadcast that day - was sensitively told by Gail Walker, who expertly dissected the psyche and predicament of this talented woman.

Reaction to the interview was mixed. Many have an instinctive sympathy for a young Ulsterwoman suddenly thrust into the brutal court of national public opinion.

Others gave her short shrift, insisting that those who seek the limelight must live by its rules.

But there was a third thread - why did the Telegraph give so much space to the issue? "What is it with the BT and this woman?" complained one reader.

A common thread of letters to the Readers' Editor questions why the paper and website carry showbiz/TV celebrity stories. The answer lies in the psychology of modern newspaper editing.

Firstly, papers need a mix of content - readers do not want an unrelenting diet of murder, recession, employment statistics and dull social policy discussions.

Showbiz, good news stories and 'gee whiz' articles are an important part of the mix - even for the broadsheets.

Secondly, celebrities and media stars play a role in peoples' lives, with many being 'present' in your living room. Many readers are intensely curious about them.

Finally, the music, TV and film sectors are massive industries in their own right - and, importantly, participative ones - and must be covered.

The Telegraph's commitment is to cover showbiz and celebrity, but to do it in an intelligent, entertaining and, when necessary, critical way.

MEANWHILE thanks to Oscar Ross, from Belfast, who pointed out an error in a graphic accompanying a news story on the city's Royal Exchange project - the proposed new commercial district stretching out from part of Royal Avenue (roughly opposite CastleCourt).

The shiny graphic provided by the developers didn't contain street names and, in a bid to assist the reader, these were added in.

Except that Royal Avenue became Garfield Street, and Lower North Street became Donegall Street. The whopper was doubly-embarrassing as, of course, Royal Avenue is where the Telegraph's office is. Too many cooks . . .

BTreaderseditor@gmail.com

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