Richard Ord: Journalism is dead and buried... on TV

Damien, the son of the devil,  is equally unimpressed with the standards of journalism in movies these days.
Damien, the son of the devil, is equally unimpressed with the standards of journalism in movies these days.

‘The Dead Walk!’ is a legendary front page headline that appears on a discarded newspaper in a scene from the zombie movie Day of the Dead.

It is a memorable image in the George A Romero zombie franchise and no doubt influenced the title of the current blockbusting US TV show The Walking Dead.

So enduring is the image that the original newspaper props (a handful were dished out to cast and crew) are now valuable collectors’ items.

To horror fans that newspaper is an iconic image. To me, a journalist, it’s odd.

While it’s a striking headline that fills you with dread, it doesn’t tell the whole story of a zombie apocalypse.

Surely, the big news about the dead being reanimated is not that they can walk, but that they are eating the living.

‘The Dead Devour the Living’ would be nearer the truth, and more useful as a warning to the public. I mean, the fact that the dead are walking is the least of mankind’s worries. It got me thinking as to how other newspapers might deal with a zombie apocalypse.

The Daily Mail would possibly throw an immigration line in there, ‘Foreign Zombies Storm Channel Tunnel’, perhaps. The Mirror would try to blame the Government: ‘Tory Cuts Fuel Rise of the Dead’, while the Express would most likely go down the route of ‘Lady Di Back From Dead?’ They like a good Diana story do the Express hacks. The Daily Star is the only newspaper I think would stick with the headline: ‘The Dead Walk!’ But it would be a play on catwalk and feature a line of leggy zombies shambling up and down a fashion catwalk. It wouldn’t make the front page either, they’d still lead their front page with a busty model in a sex romp and the latest footy news - you’ve got to know your market.

As you can probably guess, my job often interferes with my TV viewing. Does yours?

I was watching a remake of the horror classic The Omen the other day (it’s rubbish, by the way) when it briefly featured the front page of a newspaper.

It was a report on the horrific death of a priest who was impaled through his body by a 12ft lightning rod which had been dislodged from a church spire during a storm and kebabbed him to the ground.

A horrific story, but dealt with in a bizarre manner by the fictional paper which chose to run a photograph of the priest with the metal spike running through his body! No self-respecting publication would be so crass. It’s in bad taste, insensitive, and would see the paper hauled before regulators and facing a six figure payout. But it’s the headline accompanying the story that pains me: ‘Freak Accident During Yesterdays Unseasonal Storm.’

No apostrophe on the Yesterdays is unforgivable. Also, you should never date a story in a headline. But to focus on the “unseasonal” weather kind of misses the point. Surely the fact that a priest has been killed in a horrific accident is the story.

Honestly, I tell you, fictional newspaper journalism is going downhill fast.

Does your job spoil your viewing entertainment? Send in your examples and the best will win a prize.