1 November 2007

"And now, some breaking news..."

The 24 hour news channels are such a tedious outlet of repetition. It is a quite cogent contradiction that these stations never end and yet are designed for people to dip in and out of for just a matter of minutes. Tune in, grab your news and get out again.

I find myself interested, however, in how often - on average - a fresh story joins a bulletin, whether it's a bit of tough foreign news which hits the head of the bulletin immediately, or some crackpot survey about undercooked bacon giving you scabies.

Unless someone paid me though, I doubt I could ever find this out, certainly not to any conclusive scientific level. I once fell asleep on my settee with BBC News 24 on the box - I'd tuned in for my aforementioned quick fix - and a whole three hours elapsed before I woke up and found myself watching the same bulletin with the same reader, same scripts, same running order, same old same old. Albeit only three hours old, but old nonetheless.

It must frustrate these highly-trained broadcasters - some of whom aren't just voices, but proper bonafide hacks with NCTJ training and an incisive line of questioning begging to emerge - that they have been restricted to doing this.

It must be worse for those who host the 24 sports news channels, and yes, I'm thinking of Sky Sports News here. The demands of this one television station means that they have to create the news rather than discover it, hence why needless, soundbite-strewn rubbish from bored, patient football managers and inarticulate players are heralded as news stories.

I know two of the Sky Sports News presenters from our career paths crossing in commercial radio. One of them was an award-winning, creative and dynamic DJ on a regional station. The other was sports editor on a heritage local station. So both were highly-skilled in their respective positions; now both, in the absence of live guests in the studio, are paid an undoubtedly healthy sum of money for "reading out loud" as Paul Merton always referred to it in his Deayton-baiting days. Again it's the same scripts, the same pointless text messages from unemployed or unemployable viewers ("Jonno the Tottenham fan says Jol should have stayed and the board are rubbish") and the same repetition and lack of versatility. These guys have great broadcasting careers behind them and ahead of them; they deserve better than this.

And what's this cobblers about "Breaking News"? Sky's 24 hour news and sports channels are especially guilty of this. They put up stories which aren't "breaking" at all, but just a one paragraph piece of digestible, detail-free stuff which cuts to to the chase with the bluntest of all cutting implements available. "Breaking News" is what you get when you are hearing about the infamous dead donkey at the end of the bulletin and suddenly word pops up from PA that someone famous, powerful and important has hopped the twig thanks to a coronary or a freak lighting storm.

The people presenting on these stations are fine professionals, but they - and those who tune in - deserve better.

1 comment:

A Kitten in a Brandy Glass said...

I think there's a gap in the market for a 24-hour news channel that, when there isn't actually anything urgent to report, just shows pictures of frolicking kittens. Then if Kitten!News is a hit, they can expand it to include Puppy!News, Bunny!News, etc.

In fact I think I'll email Rupert Murdoch now.