Famous for 15 minutes. Almost.
09/04/2015 - 1.52
Mike Haynes, Professor of International Political Economy
"In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes". I almost was. But the balloon burst. I blame the BBC economics correspondent Robert Peston, and Radio Four's the Today Programme. They offered hope and then took it away.
As a university professor you write articles in academic journals. But it takes years to get other academics to read them and the public don't care. You have a little more hope with books. I have done five. But books are like babies - your own seem beautiful but others don't always share that opinion.
So that is how I hit on media 'think' pieces. And internet journalism is where we are told we need to be. I pitched my idea to The Conversation website. It was about how a hand car wash is a symbol of everything that's wrong with the British economy. The editor of the website said that's a brilliant analogy. I know - you think it's a great idea too.
Writing 800 words is harder than you think. It's like writing a poem. Mine was launched at 6.30 one morning. When I checked an hour later it had been noticed. Reader numbers were rising - to several hundred. Then the phone rang. Is that the Professor Mike Haynes who wrote that piece about car washes? Err - yes. Well this is BBC Radio 2 and the Jeremy Vine Show. We think it's brilliant. Everyone in the office is discussing it. Could you appear on Jeremy's show at 12 o'clock. Wow - yes. We will probably get the BBC economics Robert Peston to comment. (He is the one with the amazing voice). Yessssss!
Reader numbers are rising even more. But I notice I am not the first one to write for this website. My University of Wolverhampton colleagues Gerald Griggs in sports and Professors Roger Seifert and Andy Lane are ahead of me. And then there is Wolverhampton psychology professor - Coral Dando. She wrote a piece on airport security that more than 20,000 people have accessed. I am still only at 1,500.
But Robert Peston has tweeted my article and he has 500k followers. Watch out Dando. Then I am on Jeremy Vine speaking to every hairdresser's that has Radio 2 playing. And there is Robert Peston - true he is in another studio a hundred miles away but he says that I am right and he has called me Mike twice.
When I get home it's the BBC again. How would you like to be on the Today Programme on BBC Radio 4. I am almost there and the number of readers is still rising. I have overtaken them all except for Professor Dando. She is still out ahead. But with Robert Peston on my side and the Today programme she had better watch out.
Then it all went wrong. 'Dear Mike' said the e-mail. 'I am really sorry but the producers have decided to pull the car wash piece ... '. And ouch, those numbers of readers are rising too slowly. Damn you Robert Peston. You have half a million followers but why aren't they following your recommendations? And now my piece is getting comments. But what I wrote was so clear and simple, why are so are many missing the point?
It's late. I have hit 3,000 readers. Coral Dando is still way out there in the distance. It is not happening. I am not going to catch her. But, as Arnold Schwarzenegger once said, 'I'll be back'.