As we count down the final days of summer, I’ve been pondering whether there is such a thing as ‘silly season’ in news land anymore. There used to be a time when the long, hot (about 1 in 10!) days of July and August, with government in recess and half the country on holiday, that not a lot (in terms of hard-hitting news) happened. Journalists struggled to fill their pages with more than a “And finally…” type story.
But last August ‘silly season’ was most definitely cancelled (quicker than Boris and Dave’s holidays) when the riots kicked off and England burned for days. There was no space for funny animal stories then as acres of column inches were given over to news and analysis.
This August hasn’t been as grim – quite the opposite with the joyous and non-cynical response to the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics – but certainly not a return to ‘silly season’ in its traditional sense. Sport has leaped off the back pages and into news, comment, features, picture galleries – any bit of space! The impending Olympics did make PRs (me included) pause to consider whether August (traditionally a great month for ‘softer’ stories) was the smartest time to release a story (thankfully some journalists were still desperate for non-sports news – my ‘stowaway cat’ release for Cats Protection took off as quickly as Usain Bolt!).
However, in between the sports-fest of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, we might have caught a glimpse of the ‘silly season’ of old… Prince Harry’s naked Vegas pictures aren’t really ‘silly’, being dressed-up as ‘public interest’ although more a case of ‘old’ verses ‘new’ media battling for relevancy – it would be a big tabloid story whatever the time of year. The real sniff of ‘silly season’ has just raised its regal head in a field in Essex – nothing like a ‘mysterious animal on the loose’ story (thanks Essex Lion!) to remind you it’s August…