It is that time of year I always looked forward to when working on a newspaper.
As colleagues with families headed off on their summer breaks, I would find myself sat in a newsroom wondering what the hell I could find to fill the next day’s issue.
The “silly season” is well named.
I can remember plenty of great ideas (sic) that led to the sort of news stories and features that would never normally see the light of day (apart from that other period of journalistic limbo known as Christmas and New Year).
Whether it was deliberately getting a parking ticket to do a feature on the life of a traffic warden (yes, really), or that old chestnut of men’s summertime fashion (to wear a tie or not to wear a tie; wearing sandals with socks etc etc etc), July and August brought out the worst in the media as a whole and newspapers in particular.
It seems old habits die hard. How else do explain why an octopus called Paul can become one of the biggest stories of the football World Cup?
The advent of 24-hour news – whether online or on our TVs – hasn’t really killed off the silly season. We may now have access to information from all over the world at any minute of the day, but that doesn’t stop the media from serving up the good, the bad and the pointless on a regular basis.
At least we used to have the excuse of the summer holidays and the fact everyone was preoccupied with R&R to explain away the silly season. These days it often feels like the silly season has been extended to pretty much 365 days a year.
Even when big, proper, grown-up stories break, the coverage fluctuates wildly between the considered and the downright daft.
Can the modern media afford such silliness when more people are turning to the blogosphere and social media to find and pass on their information?
No doubt we’ll get a predictable response to such a question – did you know that Facebook gives you cancer?