Thursday, 18 October 2007

No news is no news.

I don't watch much television these days, my time away from work is too precious but in my time I've seen a lot of news programmes and I'm always struck by the redundancy exhibited, especially on rolling news station. Charlie Brooker can probably better tell you about the problems of rolling news including the paradox of live reporting in which the journalist on the scene knows less about what they're reporting on than the people in the studio:

Redundancy, that is something that gets up my nose and you see it all over the news. As an arbitrary example whenever a child of school age dies in a tragic circumstance we are told that they were very popular and that always struck me as odd and it's not because it's not true because it might be but it's said because that's what is said in these circumstances - it's lazy journalism and it adds nothing to our understanding of what has happened, it is verbal diarrhoea. This, I must admit, is a minor complaint when compared to pointlessness and news do that in spades. News about the royal family, about the lives of celebrities, pathetic "awww" stories like the skateboarding poodle who rescues a family of four from a house fire by smashing down the door with the help of a co-operative movement of farmyard animals -- okay I might have made that one up but you get the idea.

Things could be worse and Fox news shows why. In England at least the news shies away from opinionated and overtly politicised presentation of news but what agencies like Fox do is blend the lines between reporting and politics. Seeing the O'Reilly Factor is the most spine-chilling experience I've ever had and the thought that anyone would turn to him to inform them on what happens in the world is a scary thought. When news attempted to enter the sphere of entertainment it went wrong as there is the pressure to fill every hour with drama, gossip and scandal to keep people watching.

On Good Friday in 1930 something incredible happened -- nothing. In a BBC news bulletin it was announced that nothing newsworthy had happened that day so they played ten minutes of classical music instead. I want that, I want a news organisation unafraid to say that there really isn't anything worth talking about, who hire journalists capable of thinking and presenting the news in a balanced way -- would it be entertaining? I bloody well hope not.