As a seasoned media watcher I like spotting a publicity wheeze on a hard news programme. The most satisfying hit in the UK must be the Today programme on BBC Radio 4. Spoof stories posing as hard news when outed must be so frustrating for the show that gave the world Andrew Gilligan.
This morning at around 8.00, John Humphreys trailed an item about a school in Birmingham which had started to teach Elfish at the expense of modern languages such as French and Spanish. The outrage of it all. Education dumbed down to an all time low for a passing cultural fad. You could hear Humphreys loading up to shoot this excuse for a teacher down in flames. As each shot was fired at this meek but extremely articulate (and media-trained) teacher the listener discovered the real story. Elfish was being taught as an after school activity because kids had become fascinated in Tolkien’s language after reading Lord of the Rings. And, and, and? Where’s the punchline? The killer out and source of the scam was unveiled as the retail and gaming chain GAMES WORKSHOP.
The teacher plugged that the role playing groups were so popular that the kids wanted to be fluent in the tongue while playing this cult activity. So as an aid for her pupils she had instigated the classes. After all it helped kids with learning difficulties including two boys with Asberger’s Syndrome. Humphreys retreated beaten. A non-story of the first order. He must have been screaming inside to kill the hapless researcher. I will be a PR cynic to my dying day but it had news creation written all over it.