Monday, 14 April 2014

Let the revolutions begin - end the tyranny no 2: the tyranny of news

I have been fed up with the way the TV and radio, and the newspapers for that matter too, give us our news, for years. The TV and radio are particularly bad. You get a small handful of headlines at the start - maybe 5 or 6, and that, dear reader, is your world news for today. No matter what else has happened, you ain't going to hear about it. And then the rest of the programme is taken up with the special editor for this or that appearing on location, in a hotel, or in front of a meaningful building "somewhere", telling us little more than the newsreader did, followed up by long minutes of speculation and opinion being thrown at us as if it were the news. I guess they think we are more inclined to be impressed by them if they are giving us the news "on location".
Then there is the aggressive interview. Some politician whose party or who personally has done something to make a headline is sat in front of a camera or a microphone and someone like Eddie Mair or John Humphrys fires off questions designed to get one word admissions and headline grabbing scoop statements so they can tell us that we heard it on their programme first. The belligerent aggressive tone of much of the interviewing is breathtaking. Moreover, if the interviewee declines to answer by bodyswerving the question, they are usually asked the same question again at least 4 or 5 times, albeit with slightly different words. But the answer which the interviewer wants to elicit is not so much news as a headline grabber. I want news, not the carousel of questions which the interviewer thinks will enhance his or her reputation.
So what do we do? If you can, you could always switch the news off after you have heard the headlines, because believe you me, you really won't know much more by the end of the programme. Perhaps we could all switch to buying the i, cheap and full of news.
The fact is, the media have trained us to expect and understand news in the way they deliver it. It is a tyranny and a conspiracy. I have heard of a couple of guys who run a news station in the New York I think, and all they do is give brief news headlines when they go on air. Great. And when I want opinions, I can listen to Question Time.....just don't get me started. 

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