I am sure I have mentioned it before, but the summer lull that often results in rather bizarre news coverage, and which is known as the silly season in the UK, is called Cucumber News in Norway. Since almost everyone along the news supply chain has their numbers depleted by holiday leave, a certain laziness sets in, and a corresponding satisfaction with space-filling nonsense.
A bit like what moose news hunters feel like year round. So for me, this is in fact the high season for weird and wonderful news, and my files are filled to bursting for a change. But what I like absolutely best about this time of year is when the guys on duty on the news desks play with the entire concept of cucumber news. This blog entry pays tribute to them.
When the summer news hits its stride, a typical trawl of the top site headlines can read something like this:
Now you can train your face with a Nintendo DS
Steal the styles of the vampire star
Now the USA and South Korea are going to scare their northern neighbor
Typically easy, crazy stuff, lifted quickly from the international wires and gossip sites, and given a little twist to tempt people in. Though the last one there scared me a bit, I was worried that Canada was going to get some rough treatment for no particular reason.
But some Norwegian news people out there rise to the seasonal challenge. Take this headline: This is not cucumber news – shouts the Norwegian news wire ANB. And it’s true, and what a way to get people to look in and read a gripping tale of … broccoli.
The whole story was that while this summer’s weather might not be great for us, it is absolutely ideal for broccoli, and had a few comments from broccoli farmer Per Arne Hoppestad who is looking forward to growing 300,000 of George Bush’s least favorite vegetable and helping to meet the growing Norwegian taste for the brassica.
This story was only topped by the lurid: Cucumbers attacked – which sadly did not have an exclamation mark at the end. This was in fact an even more serious agricultural item, about a fungus-like threat to Norway’s favorite summer salad green.
The story details the development of a novel, three-legged, wandering box that follows the wind direction in order to suck in spore samples and act as an early warning system for the cucumber threat.
I can’t help loving it – serious stories with a cucumber angle, while bigger news gets mangled with silly tabloid headlines – that’s summer in Norway.