Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Google alert voyeurism

Forget about spam - the emails which clog up my inbox the most are my indispensable Google news alerts. I don't know of any jobbing local journalists who aren't signed up to their own customised clutch. They've undoubtedly transformed our jobs - for a start, scanning the nationals every morning is no longer the essential job it once was (although in case my boss is reading this, that's not to say the odd story doesn't slip through Google's net . . .)

But another side effect is the stories you pick up which would have passed completely under your radar before. For example, my last patch included the Essex town of Rochford, and so for months I followed with vague interest the career of jazz drummer Seb Rochford - gosh, he plays in a lot of bands! And my current batch of alerts includes an alert for Sutton - a salicious side effect of which was getting to follow the macabre ins and outs of the Joyce Sutton murder trial in Wales (her partner, pensioner Dai Banjo, was eventually acquitted despite allegedly confessing to his pet Persian cats, then died weeks later).

More annoyingly though, I am now far too familiar with the details of Shirley Bassey's stomach complaints, after being inundated with alerts set up to catch all the news from Shirley - Croydon, that is. Ho hum.

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