Media: When financial journalism and rap references collide
Ian Burrell is Assistant Editor and Media Editor at The Independent, i paper and Independent on Sunday. He covers news from the whole media sector from television, press, radio and advertising to technology. His weekly column on the media appears every Monday in The Independent and i paper. He also writes on media, music and culture, including long-form pieces for The Independent’s Saturday magazine and the Independent on Sunday’s magazine, New Review. He is a regular presenter of BBC Radio 4’s What The Papers Say and a specialist commentator to Monocle 24 radio. He has contributed to most major broadcast outlets including BBC television and radio, CNN, Sky News, Al Jazeera and LBC. He has also written on media for GQ magazine. Ian has been reporting on the media industry for The Independent for more than a decade. Previously he was the newspaper’s Home Affairs Editor. He worked at The Sunday Times for five years, including as a member of the investigative Insight team, covering stories on political funding, industrial espionage and the arms industry. Previously he worked in ITV for London Weekend Television, on a weekly current affairs programme presented by Danny Baker. Ian trained at the Birmingham Post & Mail and was Regional Reporter of the Year in Press Gazette’s national awards.
Thursday 06 December 2012
City slickers hoping for analysis of the autumn statement picked up their copies of the Financial Times today to find George Osborne being described on the front page as "G-Dawg".
Over four extraordinary columns, the Pink 'Un laboured the metaphor of the Chancellor of the Exchequer as an American rapper. It compared Osborne to P Diddy because his tax cuts reminded the paper of the music impresario "dispensing Dom Perignon to a thirsty entourage".
Probably for the first time in a 124-year history that began under the title The Honest Financier and the Respectable Broker, the FT dropped what it believed to be street expressions such as "soljaz" and "blingiest" and "'hood".
It referenced 50 Cent's album Get Rich or Die Tryin' to make a joke about entrepreneurs being disappointed by the Chancellor's policies, which would cause them to "Stay Middling and Retire Disappointed". Was this really its idea of making taxation and public spending more interesting to CEOs?
The FT has in recent years attempted to be more generalist, increasing its lifestyle features. But for all its William Hague-style donning of the baseball cap, it probably shouldn't start a hip-hop column anytime soon.
As the paper predictably homed in on "Gangsta" themes, it advised the pin-striped classes that: "As an art form, rap is loud, but lacks substance." I dare say the genre's best and most intelligent lyricists would be equally dismissive of this example of the FT's wordplay.
Ironically, P Diddy and 50 Cent are both remarkably successful businessmen who have, according to Forbes magazine, amassed fortunes of $550m and $110m respectively. It's more than Osborne is likely to make, beyond inheriting his father's luxury wallpaper business.
"To critics," the FT concludes, "Mr Osborne still resembles Boy George more than 50 Cent."
Well, yes, exactly.
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