The Media in the Press 27.1.10

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

The Times (page 4) today reports that one of its own drivers was killed by a suicide bomb that exploded near its Baghdad offices earlier this week”. “Another day, another bomb. But this one was different – it killed one of our own.” Yasser, an Iraqi driver who had worked with the Times' Baghdad bureau for seven years was described by editor, James Harding, as a “brave colleague and generous friend to The Times”.

Yasser is said to have saved the lives of his colleagues on numerous occasions and his knowledge of the city and its dangers was invaluable. Middle East correspondent, James Hider, describes Yasser and the thousands, like him, who put themselves in danger to make media coverage of the war possible, as “uncredited, unsung heroes of a war most people would rather forget”.

Meanwhile, the Prince of Wales is reported leading a chorus of criticism about ITV’s decision to axe The South Bank Show, as it held its final awards lunch yesterday. In a recorded interview, the Prince describes the programme as a “great champion of civilised values” and criticises the channel bosses' decision to abandon the show after a 31-year run, The Times reports (page 15).

The show's presenter, Melvyn Bragg, received an Outstanding Achievement award and said that the show would prove to be “the monument to his work”. The awards' lunch will be broadcast, uncensored, on Sunday night and the paper suggests the ‘litany of complaints‘ from many prominent cultural figures will have made for awkward listening for channel bosses in the audience. Comedian, Rob Brydon, is reported saying: “Good Riddance. Let’s get rid of any bastion of culture on ITV and just lie around in pig s***.”

In other media news, two children’s TV presenters have revealed that they were questioned under terror laws for wearing combat gear, utility belts and being in possession of, er, sparkly hairdryers. The Herald (page 5) reports that Anna Williamson and Jamie Rickers – who front the popular ITV 1 show, Toonattik – said that they were questioned by police while filming a skit for the show on London’s South Bank. The pair’s fake fatigues aroused suspicion from officers who questioned and issued them with a warning under the Anti-Terrorism Act.

And finally, the BBC is said to have struck a ‘golden handcuffs’ deal with comedian, Michael McIntyre, in a reported £500,000-a-year contract, making him one of their best paid stars. The Scottish Daily Mail (page 5) also remarks that, in signing up the mild-mannered McIntyre, the BBC “prepares [itself] for a cut price and less controversial future without Jonathan Ross”.