Friday, 19 January 2007

The News that we want ...

I can see the future and I'm not sure yet if I like it or not. I'm talking about "News" and how we get it. Previously (and still currently, although diminishingly so) I relied on TV and Radio "News" to keep me informed about "things I needed to be kept informed about". This was backed up and fleshed out by "trusted" newspapers. The "News" was, of course, filtered by the editors who decided EXACTLY what, how, when and how often an item was broadcast /featured. They also decided the running order/headline stories. The item may even have been censored or sanitised to suit the audience or the time of day.

In this new age of 24 hour news, internet, online newspapers, amateur bloggers etc. we don't need to wait for the Six O'Clock News or the News at Ten, or indeed the paper boy. If we need to know the cricket/football scores; they've already been texted to us. It's all there, like a 24 hour supermarket; we can pick and choose. And that is good?

It should be. Instinct tells me that uncensored access to all sides of a "story"; instant eye witness via mobile phone or blog is progress. No more propaganda?

My problem is that we're not quite there yet ... we're in limbo. The "News" providers, TV, Radio and the press are driven by simple commerce. It's the viewing figures/circulation that influences the editors when deciding what "we need to be kept informed about". It's why the Celebrity Big Brother ballyhoo leads over government corruption, death and misery in Iraq (and probably lots of other places I don't know about). And what is the Daily Express about? How to completely and utterly rescind any right to be called a newspaper with the constant Diana campaign. One way to piss everybody off is to keep going on and on about something.

Some Fleet St publications have succumbed to the inevitable already and are really publishing a magazine although they won't admit it.

I can't wait till we get to the time when we can edit our own news and access what we need and want. Iraq? Not today. Presidential election? Maybe tomorrow. Becks in LA? Yes please. Weather in Devon? Not interested. It's just the transitional period we're in that's driving me mad. We're bombarded from all sources with the "popular" crap. ITN news, which was previously one of the best in the business, has become an insult to my intelligence; note that I said "my". The frustration I have is that I can't believe the thick twats the programme is aimed at would be seen dead watching "the News".

My final rant today is about political coverage, especially at election time. We've got one coming up next year and for the official three week campaign, we will have wall to wall election news. I appreciate that we should be informed before we vote, but I have a problem which is "the horse" and which "the cart". We get huge coverage because there's a huge resource covering it. It certainly doesn't merit it, in my opinion. There's a self generating hunger for news that forces all the parties to have a breakfast press conference with a new topic/initiative every day. Any fool can see this as false and manufactured, but they "need to feed the news machine". What machine? It's not there at my bidding. If we let "popular appeal" decide how much coverage the politicians should get during their pantomime (word carefully chosen), would they even make 5th or 6th item on the news or page 12 in the press. It would be a better campaign, in my opinion, if they had to "win" our attention.

As an afterthought, the campaigns wouldn't be so expensive and the parties wouldn't need to borrow so much from prospective peers and all the problems that could cause.

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