The boy with the tortoise tattoo

Many of us nerds have “a trilogy”. It could be The Lord of the Rings or Star Wars or The Godfather… although probably not as the least said about the third is… you know what? It’s fine, we don’t need to flog that dead horse an more. It’s been through enough, what with having no head and everything.

Woof. It’s the first paragraph and I’m already off-track.


In 2010 I was introduced to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and it quickly became my trilogy. It was a dark series of extraordinarily long and detailed novels written by a journalist. One of the supporting pillars of the story is the magazine Millennium, which ran detailed exposés often in the finance sector. (But there’s murder and motorcycles and stuff too.)

When I think about the company behind this week’s podcast, I think about the team at Millennium, doing the legwork to find the stories we didn’t know we should care about, that are often underreported.

The News Meeting is a different take on the week’s news. Rather than breathless reporting or deep investigation, this show pits three journalists from UK news company Tortoise together in a vicious fight to the death to see who will emerge with the biggest news story of the week. And all under the watchful glare of editor James Harding.

OK, so the battle isn’t so much one to the death as it is lukewarmly contested. And Harding doesn’t so much glare as he does… well, sort of choose the news stories he thinks should lead. Look, you’re getting me off track again.

My understanding is that news meetings can be pretty loud and competitive affairs. Each journalist wants their story to get prominence, maybe because it’s a subject close to their heart, or they’ve worked really hard on it, or they just want that sweet, sweet byline. Either way, they’re a lot noisier than this particular news meeting.

If this podcast were a weekly newspaper, each journalist would be pitching their lead story. James has the final say of the running order, but each panelist can pick their favourite (as long as it’s not their own… this is a civilised affair, after all).

The competition element is pretty thin – this isn’t a game show and the journalists are all grownups – but I find it just that little bit of sugar to help the news pill go down. And although there’s a UK bias to the stories, they’re not exclusively UK-focused.

The minute in question is at 2:12 of the latest episode – give or take – but you’ll find it at a similar point in each. It’s a brief rewind of the week’s stories, told through nibble-sized chunks of media coverage. I don’t have full-on synesthesia – the phenomenon where sensory wires get weirdly attached so you can start to “see” music – but I find the rewind sound and the music visually evocative, and I can almost see the news clips being played out.

I’ve been looking forward to and enjoying the show each week, as it’s not only a novel take on the news, it’s also a chance to hear about stories that can easily get swept away in the daily news torrent.

I like the way Tortoise approaches news. Their podcasts focus on untold stories, and there’s a chance I may cover more of them in the future.

Thank you for your time this week. What’s say you and I do this again next Sunday? In the meantime, you keep listening, and I’ll do the same.


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