Thursday, October 04, 2007

Reach for the Wikipedia

Ronnie Hazlehurst did not write S Club 7's Reach. Why would you think he did?

It might be because BBC News, The Guardian, The Times, The Stage and Reuters all said he did, in their obituaries of the TV theme king.

But why would they think he did?

Because Wikipedia told them so, and so when the - hurried, harried - journalists came to write their obits for him, they just took the information at face value.

It's easy to be too hard on the writers - loads of people rely on Wikipedia for information every day, and hardly anyone bothers to cross-reference it anywhere else; and it's not only Wikipedia which plays host to bum information tucked into its usually-quite-reliable content. But did nobody stop to think just how unlikely it sounded that Hazlehurst would have contributed a song to S Club 7 - and just the one, mind? Even if it had been true, surely that strange combination of writer and act would have piqued the curiosity enough for a writer to want to dig just a little bit deeper as to the circumstances that brought such a thing into being?

Mind, as Karl T observed when he brought this to our attention:

The great thing about this sorry saga is that, by Wikipedia's rules, Ronnie Hazlehurst really *did* write 'Reach', since it can be cited from numerous sources.

Ronnie Hazlehurst wrote Reach for S Club 7. And Bob Holness played the saxophone on it.


Anonymous said...

In other HazelNews, there's a great piece on the BBC News site today about the ingenious Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em / Morse Code thing.

Anonymous said...

Does this mean that we're all bloggers now? Old media and journalism and new media bloggers sourcing info from the same places (as well as each other)?

Simon Hayes Budgen said...

James - it always amused me that everyone treated the Morse theme with reverence, despite Pheloung effectively having just ripped the idea off the Some Mothers theme...

Anonymous said...

Strange, isn't it? It's like finding out that the idea of the three 'alternative realities' in Run Lola Run was pinched from the 'Which bit of patio furniture will collapse?' game in Terry and June.

I did like the suggestion that, in Morse (the show), music would sometimes include additional Morse (the code) which, when translated, might give the name of the perpetrator (or maybe a red herring). I tried the same thing on the BBC News theme tune this evening to see if it gave any clues away, and it turns out the person behind Princess Diana's fatal crash was a chap called I EEEEEEEE.

Anonymous said...

This is something I've noticed happeing in music documentaries - especially on the BBC. It seems to be the case now that researchers simply head for Google and take what they find as fact, rather than bother cross-checking with researched and verified facts found in books.

Alex B said...

Popbitch have reported this today, in the loop as always.

Laura Brown said...

A while ago, I did some work on Wikipedia's David Attenborough article. I added the fact that his parents had adopted two Jewish refugee girls during World War II, and one of them had given him a piece of prehistoric amber, which he featured in a one-off television programme in the 1990s. I had never seen this mentioned in the press -- I only knew about it from having watched the programme.

It happened that Attenborough began promoting a new project shortly afterwards, and the usual spate of cut & paste profiles appeared in the press -- but this time, all the reporters seemed eager to share a little-known fact: "His interest in nature was partly inspired by a young refugee girl who ..."

I told myself that this must just be some weird coincidence, but now I'm not so sure!

Hermes said...

I couldn't agree more with the comment in The Observer on Sunday:

"Shouldn't someone be asking why newspaper obituarists choose to rely on a single source for a factual claim?"


Anonymous said...

Sidney Sager wrote the original station ID tune for BBC Radio Bristol which went on air around 1970, predating Some Mothers. The tune is based on the Morse code for "RB" - di-da-dit da-di-di-dit. It has more in common musically with Pheloung than with Hazlehurst.

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