The Media in the Press 16.12.09

Second-year Journalism student, Alex McConnell, of Strathclyde University, takes a look at the media stories making the headlines in today’s papers….

Sadly, the X Factor has remained the popular topic of media news today with the 'startling revelation' that this year’s winner, Joe McElderry, may be beaten to the Christmas number one slot by US rock band, Rage Against The Machine’s 1992 hit, 'Killing in the Name of'. The majority of today’s dailies have reported that McElderry’s single, The Climb, is trailing by 6000 copies. The single was chosen as part of a Facebook protest to stop X Factor from getting the to the Christmas number one for the fifth time in a row.

Despite this, X Factor judge, Simon Cowell, will have a trouble-free Christmas as he is close to signing an agreement ‘worth tens of millions of pounds’ with the Fox Broadcasting Company and ITV to secure the X Factor's place on primetime television in the UK and the US (The Times, page 17). Cowell is also considering leaving American Idol, where he is currently paid a reported £22 million pounds a year to concentrate on the US version of the X Factor when it starts filming in September 2011.

Meanwhile, the Advertising Standards Authority has been busy over the past couple of days dealing with complaints ranging from misleading anti-aging treatments to prejudicial treatment of people with ginger hair.

The Scottish Daily Mail (page 19) and the Daily Record (page 17) report on the watchdog’s criticism of an advertisement for Olay Regenerist Eye Illuminator which features the 60 year-old model, Twiggy, who says that ‘it is the secret to brighter looking eyes’. However, after 700 complaints, the ASA concluded that the image of Twiggy was not genuine and that the wrinkles around her eyes had been airbrushed. Proctor and Gamble, who makes Olay, are reporting saying that the image had been replaced and that ‘minor retouching’ was inconsistent with their policy.

Virgin Media has also been criticised in the ASA’s first upheld complaint of ill treatment towards people with ginger hair. Despite only three people complaining, the ASA has banned the advert ‘for breaching rules of decency’ in its promotion for TV show, Dating in the Dark, which asked: “How do you spot a ginger in the dark? Looks or Personality, who wins?” (The Independent, page 9).

The ASA said that the advert implied that ginger hair is undesirable and comes only a day after supermarket chain, Tesco, apologised and removed a Christmas card that suggested that Santa Claus loved all children, even those with red hair. Independent columnist, Carola Long, discusses Britain’s insensitive and discriminatory Christmas cards in relation to this story. ‘Even Xmas cards are now obscene’ (page 31).

And finally, in the New York publishing world, there is a ‘scramble for survival’ as publishers and authors squabble over the digital rights to their back catalogues as the popularity of Ebooks rise and threaten traditional publishing (The Guardian, page 23). This has come after Stephen Covey, one of America's leading business self-help authors sold exclusive digital rights of his new book to Amazon, forgoing his conventional publishers, Simon and Schuster.