With temperatures set to reach 30 degrees tomorrow, lazy journalists everywhere are dusting off their trusty sun/drought/unusually hot weather stories from the back of their filing cabinets. Here’s a quick guide to writing your own 2 page feature:
1. Start with a great headline - something from a song, a funny cultural reference, or a winning pun, like ‘Scorchio’, ‘Hot in the city’ or ‘Heat Surrender’. This will show your readers that they can expect to be informed but also entertained
2. Compare temperatures in London/Margate/Blackpool favourably to places that your average reader will be mildly surprised to find are not as hot today as here. The Sahara desert is good. Egypt or Doha - even better. They're hot places aren't they? But, look, ah, they’re not as hot as Cromer is at this specific time on Friday. Fooled you.
3. Include pictures of some attractive women in bikinis enjoying an ice cream on Brighton beach. Airbrush out any pasty men with their tops off, scratching their bollocks in sweaty swimming trunks in the heat, that doesn’t sell papers.
4. Include a graphic with a thermometer on it - make sure the mercury is coloured bright red and preferably provide a fahrenheit conversion for the older reader of just how hot it will be. 104 in the shade. That’s almost as hot as the drought of 1976, isn't it?
5. Definitely mention the drought of 1976. Highlight how there were standpipes on every street corner. Use this to start a reminiscing piece about white dog shit, rola cola, Huckleberry Finn being on telly in the summer holidays, and how everyone mucked in and got on with it didn't they? Oh, that was hot then, though, wasn't it, even hotter than today.
6. Provide a rudimentary public information service by telling people only 2 things: First, drink lots of water. And secondly, don’t leave dogs alone in cars in the heat as they might die. These are the only 2 things that matter in a UK heatwave.
7. Have a side bar in which a hapless reporter conducts an egg frying experiment on a local road or the bonnet of a car. Provide some scientific explanation as to why it doesn’t work and don’t forget to put in your expense claim for the damage to the paintwork on your Ford mondeo.
8. Ask a serious question about whether this is global warming and be sure to include a picture of a dried up riverbank, before moving on to make a gratuitous reference back to the lovely ladies enjoying an ice cream on Brighton beach.
9. Bring everyone crashing down to earth by reminding them that it will piss it down from Sunday,