Herbivore Goatspanner is probably the UK’s leading contemporary commentator on current events in the media. Thus, she is an excellent choice for this year’s Media Personality of the Year award. It is not that she is in any way an expert on any of the subjects she pontificate about in the TV and radio studios, or in several column inches on in the national press. It is just that she looks good on TV, and can file copy of the requisite length for the papers. Furthermore, she guarantees to have an opinion on anything and everything. Usually, as well, she can engineer that opinion in such a way that it sounds initially contentious. This is more than enough for a sub-editor or programme presenter to come up with a headline or item introduction that seems far more controversial than Goatspanner’s actual column or remarks. Thereby garnering the audience attention that the particular media outlet needs in order to generate the necessary advertising or viewing figures.
After all, these days, news is so easily available, quite literally at the touch of a button or swipe of a touchscreen. Therefore, all the media outlets know that mere news is not enough. They also know that it is the best way to get the vital audience engagement to encourage advertisers or to justify the TV licence tax, is to have someone contentious on the programme or in their pages. However, they do not want to frighten away the advertisers, or risk an investigation into the use of the licence tax. Therefore, they don’t want anyone too contentious; especially when budget cutbacks have reduced the security guards needed to escort the excessively controversial from the offices or studios.
News is, despite what some journalist like to believe, after all mere entertainment. Consequently, news producers believe there is nothing more entertaining as an argument between studio guests or between newspaper columnists and their readers, even if it only gives the vague impression that something is happening. After all, most news programmes on the TV are just endless scenes of man-made or natural disasters in foreign fields or tedious and trivial insider gossip from the Westminster village. Having someone with contentious views spout them for the glee of the audience – whether pro or anti the contrarian doesn’t really matter. After all, for the media it is the heat produced that is their raison d’etre, not the light.
Therefore, whenever editors need a contentious opinion about anything to spice up a dull news half-hour or to fill a few column inches between the all-important adverts, the media call upon Goatspanner. Mainly because she will have an opinion about whatever is the slightly controversial subject of the moment. What, of course, adds to Goatspanner’s value is that opponents cannot pin her down as either Right wing or Left wing. Therefore, both sides can feel comfortable in attacking her, knowing no-one will call their tribal loyalty into question. Thus, the claim, that Goatspanner and her opinions – no matter how trivial the subject matter – are vital for the circus that passes for democracy, is not as absurd as it sounds.
So her winning the Media Personality of the Year is – for once – not that contentious after all.