Saturday, 20 October 2012

No Savile victims found in Runcorn shock

Here is another non-story to add to those I have flagged up over the years. First, there was the dog that injured its nose in Ringwood. Then the woman who couldn't buy custard powder in Whitstable, which spawned the great Custard Shortage collection. One of the earliest was the mattress that fell off a lorry in Kidderminster, causing no chaos at all (although a car did have to stop). One of my favourites was 90-year-old Irma Gledhill finding a straight banana. It was the quotes that made it. "If I can't do anything else, I will eat it,"  she said. And still on the fruit trail, there was the man who stumbled on a rather large pear in Sutton. There was also the chap who called the police to report a suspicious package from Amazon on his doorstep. And then there was the splash in the Folkestone Herald that told the shocking story of a woman who bought a pasty that was three days past its sell-by date. Yes. Really. The splash. People were equally shocked in Haywards Heath when Boots the chemist opened a little later than usual one morning. But the latest Jimmy Savile story adds a new dimension. Just think of the potential ... no murders in town this week, Tom Cruise not buying a house in our patch, aliens didn't land in city park. The list is endless. Never again will the newsdesk struggle to fill the paper. Once upon a time there would have been a world-weary news editor explaining in no uncertain terms to some hapless reporter that it simply wasn't a story. Now these things slip in with regularity - and inevitably get more web hits that any of the worthy and serious coverage. Perhaps there is method in the madness. It will be the bizarre, the offbeat, the mistakes, the funnies and the downright bad that will get the biggest followings. As I have suggested before, we might have to write new guidelines into our training courses for young journalists. "When you go back to your newsrooms you will be expected to deliver three page leads, three quality shorts - and at least one non-story a day."

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