Tuesday, 14 September 2010

It's wrong. Are you?

The Independent's gossip column, High Street Ken (do you see what they've done there? They're based on Kensington High Street! Their nearest Tube station is High Street Kensington! Oh, the roffle-inducing hilarity of it all) is clearly suffering due to its author's inability to locate gossip.

Highlights of today's column include Clive Anderson saying nothing in particular about Piers Morgan getting a new job, and George Galloway (remember him?) getting paid slightly less than he was expecting for an appearance on a TV programme. Hot stuff.

The best (worst?) item is another attempt at hilarity, one that is undermined both by its total lack of humour and a schoolboy factual error. Here's the offending item in full:

In her role as Minister for Women and Equalities, Theresa May reminded George Osborne that his budget could face an "equality audit" under rules implemented by the last government. Yet Ms May, in her other role as Home Secretary, is herself responsible for a brutal gender bias in the prison system. In a written reply to the Commons, the Justice minister Crispin Blunt revealed details of the satellite TV packages available to prisoners under an "enhanced privileges" scheme.

"In the 62 establishments where digital channels are available," Blunt said, "prisoners have access to nine free-to-view channels in-cell. These are BBC1, BBC2, ITV1, Channel 4, Channel Five, Sky Sports News (E4 in female prisons), ITV3, Viva and Film4." "E4 in female prisons"? So, while their male counterparts enjoy the many pleasures of Soccer Saturday with Jeff Stelling, female jailbirds are forced to endure endless re-runs of Friends? Cruel and inhuman, surely.

Not exactly Oscar Wilde on the wit front. And not exactly what you'd hope a "quality" national newspaper would aspire to on the accuracy front, either. As anyone with even a passing interest in Westminster knows, the Home Secretary isn't responsible for prisons and hasn't been since 2007 when the Ministry of Justice was created. Perhaps High Street Ken should stick to breaking major stories about how actor Michael Sheen looks a bit like embattled former BP chief Tony Hayward.

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