Mass Media must pay Attention to public concerns.

21 06 2010

Feedback is good, its a barometer for public opinion.

We need more.

Every time we sit down to write something that we believe will be of interest to someone somewhere in the world, we do so not with narcissistic intent of shouting out LOOK AT ME, AREN’T I INSIGHTFUL, COWER BEFORE MY FONTS AND MARVEL but more because an incident or event has piqued our interest.

Feedback also tells us that someone has actually read our thoughts and either agrees or disagrees with our point of view. It warms us, makes us feel that we are not just sitting in cyberspace and postulating pointlessly towards an apathetic virtual audience.

Traditional media has always had this facility, notably in print where Letters to the Editor is a chance for the “ordinary person” to get something off his/her chest and to bring to the reader’s attention an area where the professional journalist may not have got it right or may have been misinformed. LTTE is also a chance to bring a cause into public focus – whether it be the contentious decisions made by an incumbent government, the continuing problems of a disputed foreign intervention, the real culprits behind a regrettable ecological incident or why Joe Cole has been overlooked for a starting place in the England team.

Which is why this letter in The Daily Telegraph today (June 21, 2010) is so important.

It reads :

SIR – I wonder why new potatoes are so disappointing nowadays, even in season. Does anyone know of a type which tastes as good as Jersey Royals and Pembrokes did 30 or 40 years ago?

Sam Kelly, Oldham, Lancashire

And that is it.

I don’t know whether Sam Kelly is a Samuel or a Samantha, I have no insight into his/her thought processes but they are obviously peeved about the state of the potato that is currently accompanying their choice of food. So peeved that they felt they had to write a letter to a national newspaper and bring it to the public attention.

Although I do know that the actor Sam Kelly (best known from his role in UK “comedy” ‘Allo ‘Allo) does hail from Manchester – which is near Oldham. But I don’t think it is him.

What exactly are they expecting to get back from this? Just the chance to see their name in the “Newspaper of the Year” and be able to proudly show it to their mates and say…I wrote that!

It could be that the original letter was longer and may have been edited down for reasons unknown. But I doubt it.

Was it emailed, faxed or posted? I hope that it was posted, mainly because I want to believe that this individual went to the trouble of writing the letter, addressing the envelope, buying a first class stamp and then walking to his nearest post-box (hopefully in seriously inclement weather) to bring their concerns to light.

And the biggest problem of all?

I don’t have an answer to the question. I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a Jersey Royal or a Pembroke in a blind taste test. All I know is that genetic modifications in crops and the means of mass producing vegetables have significantly changed in the last 40 years.

Forty years ago Sam Kelly would have bought potatoes from a local greengrocer, maybe even direct from the farm. Nowadays, the range of starchy, tubular vegetable is immense (there are nearly 4000 varieties) and the biggest producer of Solanum Tuberosum is China.

Go into any supermarket in UK or the USA and the choices overwhelm you, 80 different types are grown in the UK alone.  Sam just needs to experiment with different potatoes until the right one lands on the plate. My best wishes go to Sam in this tricky venture.

Now, lets try and work out why England have been so rubbish at the World Cup.

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One response

21 06 2010
Nicolas Ward

Obviously Monsanto, secret US Soccer sponsor, shipped tainted potatoes to England’s team dinner.

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