HERE’S one way to write a newspaper column. Pick your topic, work out what everyone thinks and then say the exact opposite, just for the sake of being contrary.

This tip is passed on for free, although it is not the method of composition I usually adopt. Everything written here, however misguided it may seem to some, is honestly felt and truly believed. Or certainly at the time of writing (even columnists are allowed to change their minds).

But let’s try this crowd-baiting approach with the story about Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross, who made obscene phone calls to veteran actor Andrew Sachs about his granddaughter, who fancies herself a model, during Brand’s BBC Radio Two programme.

Assorted newspapers and media commentators are now calling for the entertainers to be severely reprimanded, sacked or have their heads impaled on an aerial outside Broadcasting House.

So here’s what we can say about this affair: everyone should lighten up a bit, Mr Sachs should get a sense of humour, his granddaughter should stop going around dressed like that, and Jonathan Ross clearly deserves a pay rise for being so hilarious.

Well, perhaps not.

Another way to write a newspaper column is to say exactly what your readers think in blunt language, while laying the indignation on extra thick with a rusty trowel. That method is used by the likes of Richard Littlejohn in his robust you-couldn’t-make-it-up columns.

His Mail colleague, Melanie Phillips, prefers to get very cross indeed about our shameful and degraded society (it always is, dear me, it always is).

But there is a third way – oh, all right, my way. This is to ponder the light and shade of an issue, then come to a conclusion or two.

So here we go with Brand and Ross. The incident in question makes both of them look like puerile boy pranksters wrapped up in an infantile world in which ordinary standards of decency have evaporated. Will that do, or does it sound too much like Mel?

I have listened to Brand’s radio show and can’t stand it or him. Was ever a more annoying, affected or sexually incontinent person supported by the licence fee? I think not.

Some would feel equally hostile about Jonathan, and certainly he can be hard to defend. And the money is just ridiculous – £6 million a year, apparently.

Yet I can’t help liking him in small doses on a Friday night, because when he gets things right and doesn’t trip over his own ego, he is amusing and enjoyably disrespectful. But he misjudged this situation and has now been suspended, while Brand has resigned (what will I watch tomorrow night?).

For all that, I don’t feel comfortable joining the braying mob, as mass ranting indignation is not to my taste. Such behaviour is, I confess, a sometimes troubling aspect of the way some of us media types carry on, especially those in the more populist national newspapers.

Here’s a thing. Some of the papers screaming about Brand and Ross recently had to pay out damages to friends of the McCann family. Express Newspapers agreed to pay £375,000 in libel damages to the so-called “Tapas Seven”, the friends of Kate and Gerry McCann who were with the couple in Portugal when Madeleine McCann disappeared.

This was on top of the £550,000 the Express has already paid out to the McCanns themselves.

The journalism professor Brian Cathcart, writing in New Statesman, refers to “the great balloon of speculative nonsense that was the McCann story” and the way certain newspapers used their power to kill discussion of how this story was mishandled in sections of the press.

This seems about right to me, and while the Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross story is a mere distraction by comparison – even if Gordon Brown has found time to weigh in – it does remind us that some national newspapers rush to pillory people in the public eye with shameless enthusiasm, while preferring not to look at their own behaviour.

There you have it, one way to write a column.