Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Dangling a worm

Oh, the Gazette is a tease! Along with the usual celebrity-opens-a-supermarket stuff this week appeared the following headline:
A FRYING pan fight in Colchester High Street led to several people being arrested.
Do tell! Surely this story couldn't be anything but fascinating...
Surprised shoppers witnessed items being stolen from Robert Dyas Holdings Ltd, a home appliance store, before the items were turned into weapons this afternoon.
The story has a sort of 'let's put the show on right here in the barn' quality - there you are in Colchester High Street when you suddenly need an offensive weapon. Thank goodness for the local hardware shop!

But then the Gazette comes over all coy - that's your lot; if you want to know more, it says, you'll have to buy the paper copy. Now that's fine if you happen to be in Essex at the time but not so easy if you are far away. And not having been picked up by the forces of 'churnalism', the full story has not yet made it onto the internet.

This one was more than a little intriguing - who were these people?* And what were they doing fighting in the street in broad daylight? For those of a curious disposition, there is a little more enlightenment in the comments, from the facetious - 'Police are grilling the subjects' - to the unintentionally amusing:
To be more correct, it was a Wok, A frying pan, A glass dish and a gardening fork [...] . Lovely journalists ;) Get better facts.
However, there's a darker side to this too; according to the same comment - the fight was 'about 20 people against 4', which starts to sound sinister, given the use of weapons (of a sort). Another comment makes a similar point:
My two sons unfortunately witnessed this first hand yesterday afternoon. Although there appear to be a number of jokes posted, it wasn't really very funny for those people who were running trying to get away from them as it wasn't just pans, but knives also.
Amusing as the domestic implements aspect might be, the reality of around two dozen people, some armed with heavy objects, fighting in a busy shopping street is a disturbing one - and not something I want to see next time I'm in Colchester.

I'm not really sure what the Gazette was trying to achieve here; the teaser it put out, presumably in a bid to sell its paper version this week, left casual readers thinking it was a light-hearted piece while the actual story - at least to those who regularly shop in the town - is far more unsettling.

It raises some interesting questions about editorial judgement and journalistic standards. I'll leave the last word to SteveH in a comment from a post by Anna Raccoon on something the local press had entirely failed to notice:
Have you read local papers these days? Those were cut to the bone years ago, if they survived that is, and if our local one is anything to go by, they are now staffed by teenage work experience. The only investigative journalism I expect our local rag to perform would be the cheapest place to buy fags…

*Even though the police made arrests this time, the information may not be forthcoming.


  1. Lol! I saw this one yesterday, was most disappointed you had to buy the newspaper to find out what happened!

    I took a snap and have a post queued up - I'll link to this one :)

  2. Thanks - I was hoping you'd do something on this one; it being your usual stamping ground you're probably better placed to find out more.

  3. Oh, sadly I don't have any more details, I just got pulled in by the headline! :)