Wednesday, January 28, 2009

reams of random rubbish

Few people realize quite how much junk flows into the e-mail inbox of a busy daily paper in Joburg. I am not sure how people find the address, but they do and they use it and they send in their stuff obviously believing that it is newsworthy. For somebody. Somewhere. Like obviously! Ja, right.

So today I spent doing yet another stand-in stint on the newsdesk. And once again I encountered the incoming stream of news flashes, press releases, adverts, alerts, and copies of correspondence sent by irate consumers to product or service suppliers obviously in the hope that the big boy will be scared off by the fact that the newspaper now knows what’s going on.

But how bad can these e-mails be? I hear you ask. The answer: bad. Pretty bad, my friend.

Take the one from a guy called Deon. “I have a story I think should be told to the whole of South Africa . Obesity is out of control in South Africa and just keeps getting worse year after year.”


He continues: “I went on a diet last year and managed to lose 77kg in 7 months eating precisely the opposite foods from that recommended by the experts. I am now healthier than I have ever been.” And to ram his point home he attaches two photos of himself – the fat “ BEFORE” pic showing him wearing only shorts, manboobs hanging low nestling under his arms as they are split by his alarmingly large stomach. The “AFTER” image shows him slimmed down wearing a black suit, red shirt and tie complete with obligatory cheesy smile.

Now I saw The Biggest Loser and every week watched how large people ran, lifted weights, sweated and lived on lettuce in their quest to slim down. And they did – but not even the winner managed 77kg in 7 months. So do we run this scoop on page one? Nah. *DELETE*

Then a “leading retailer” on a mission to sell tiles without spending a cent on advertising sent in a press release informing the media how they have helped Andre achieve his world record dream by allowing him to sit in a spa bath on one of their show rooms for more than seven days under the beady eye of a webcam. I assume this was to allow people around the world following this amazing world record attempt to go onto the tile company website and watch Andre live as he sat in the bath. For seven days. Riveting stuff! This e-mail served as our invitation to come and catch his last hour in the bath and photograph the momentous occasion of him climbing out as the new holder of the world record for … erm … sitting in the bath. News? I don’t think so. *DELETE*

Then agriculture and biofuels consultant named Fanie hit his send button and so arrived the first Afrikaans contribution of the day. A press release, a graph the size of a stamp so I know not what it was about plus a grim photograph of himself wearing a striped shirt, sporting a bit of a comb-over and a porno moustache. The news angle? South Africa will, in three years time, be forced to import mielies. Gosh! Darn! … *DELETE*

And then another news contribution from an outlying news agency headed “ Mpumalanga housing spokesman says relations between landlords and tenants has improved”. Hmmm – moving along …. *DELETE*

Then a news release from the Consumer Profile Bureau warning that a steep rise in identity theft is costing the country millions. I have to confess, I am not nearly as scared of someone stealing my identity as I am of them marrying me without my knowledge. But then again, yesterday while I was in court our friendly prosecutor mentioned a new case where a woman who discovered that some fraudster married her without her consent went and sued him for maintenance. So now I feel better about that. Anyway, we already all know about the identity theft thing.


Another news alert from little far-away news agency. “Mopani worms are lekker in London”. Now this is truly a cool story. Some women with a small worm processing project in rural Limpop are cashing in on the demand for exotic foods overseas by frying Mopani worms, coating them with jungle spice and exporting them as “worm-based flavoured snacks”. Excellent!

Then, just when things are getting exciting, another dud lands. A small political party wants to make public their statement lauding Barack Obama because his inauguration speech “lacked racism”. Oh ja, and they urged South Africans “not to make and unnecessary demands for handouts”. Gee thanks guys – you only took more than a week to put together that news flash. I am sure President Obama is delighted that you liked his speech, and waiting for those necessary demands! *DELETE*

And so it goes. All day, every day. Hundreds upon hundreds of them. Can’t wait to log on tomorrow morning and see what landed in the night!!

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