By definition,“silly season” is the time of year, usually in late summer, when the media fill column inches with trivial or frivolous matters for lack of major, especially political, news stories.
While this year has bucked the trend, the summer months have still treated us to a swathe of colourful stories, providing a welcome break from the whiplash pace of the news cycle. Here, the Pagefield team share their favourites.
Schoolchildren to be taught how to avoid being injured by seagulls – The Daily Telegraph
“I could have dedicated a years’ worth of blogs to seagull related tales this August as national newspapers went mad for them. In total 272 gull related stories bulked out the papers between the no-deal warnings and bumper holiday sudokus this silly season.
“This one had a particular edge as it read like a greatest hits of gull news, including advice to stare down seagulls to avoid them stealing your food (“gulls take 21 seconds longer to approach food when a human stared directly at them”), a Scarborough council employee touring schools with a cardboard cut-out of a seagull, the establishment of a seagull “mugging” hotline, and a case study where a teenager’s glasses were knocked off – but critically not damaged – in a fight to protect a cheese straw from a greedy gull. Summertime news at its best, bring on next year.” – David Leslie, Associate Partner
“If the irony of having Jay Aston, one of the UK’s only Eurovision winners, announcing her selection as PPC for the Brexit Party in this week’s papers wasn’t enough to ease you out of your summer hiatus and back into, well, your Parliamentary hiatus then just think of the campaign messaging come election time: Get a run for your money and take a chance and it’ll turn out right. And when you can see how it’s got to be, you’re making your mind up! Cue campaign video.” – Kate Begg, Senior Consultant
“A long-standing consumer scandal – this story captures the attention of a broad range of readers. It discusses not only the uproar that commences when someone opens a bag of Quavers to find that they’re only set to enjoy five crisps, but also the potential environmental impact of the increasing amount of packaging waste. In a society where we’re seeing a simultaneous, but bizarre, rise in the level of obesity and care for environmental values, this light touch of a story ticks both boxes.” – Cameron MacIndoe, Executive
“If we’ve learnt anything from Trump, it’s the term “fake news”, how to deny headlines on Twitter and more recently what not to do when a hurricane hits the US. An idea raised in the 1950’s, branded a myth by scientists and later seeped through the loose lips of Donald Trump, it is no surprise the story made the pages of British papers, as they relish in news to get their readers talking.” – Jessica Alexander, Senior Executive
“If we have learnt one thing from three years of Brexit coverage, blaming the European Union for anodyne domestic matters generates headlines. And if there was a football manager who has a history of candour, it is Ian Holloway. Combine Brexit, Holloway and the introduction of Video Assistant Referees (VARs) in the beautiful game and there you have plentiful column inches to occupy the paper in the summer months.” – Ben Stetson, Consultant
“Red-tops love an off the wall study and this one doesn’t disappoint. Despite the current news cycle, a paper can’t be all doom and gloom and these quirky discoveries offer an escape and keep the laughter flowing. Besides, most of the country would probably rather read about what makes a fart funny (it’s messy, lasts four seconds exactly and is embarrassing if you were wondering) at the moment over ANOTHER Brexit story!” – Olivia Crawford, Senior Executive
“Onto a story which would have been unbelievable six months ago, but in the current Brexit dystopia is being met with sober scrutiny: 79 year old Ken Clarke being touted as an interim Prime Minister to “rescue Britain from a no deal Brexit”, so they say.
“Father of the House, Ken Clarke, a man whose led more defeated leadership bids than Liverpool FC. An elder statesman and politician of the highest regard though, and set to retire in 2020 (although we’ve heard that before) after an innings of 50 years. So a viable unity candidate? Think again. Eurosceptic Tories cannot abide him – he’d have been Prime Minister long before now if he adopted a Bercow style about turn in favour of career advances – and the Corbynistas would never support another Tory PM.” – Shaya Raymond, Associate Partner
Silly season? Politics? Twas ever thus.