News coverage…. no one cares

January 20, 2017

This morning I bowled up to the building that houses BBC Radio York and the guy that was actually on air was outside the building having a quick cigarette! I was scheduled to be on the show with him (!) in about 10 minutes. I was there to talk about travelling/holidaying in the USA.

I didn’t detain him long as I suspected that he had to get back! However, I asked how the show was going. He said “terrible”! They’d invited callers to telephone in about the politics of Donald Trump. No one called! Given that York has a population of 120,000 and tens of thousands in the broadcast area then this was a poor response.

Knowing that a long discussion was not appropriate I volunteered my own thoughts and said “I don’t think people are that interested: it is just a fixation of the media”. He said he agreed, stubbed out his fag and returned to the listeners.

The advent of 24/7 news means that those who have the inclination, or are paid to have the inclination can blitz you with every twitch of a political story and the views surrounding it for what appears forever. If it is your drug then you can also participate and spill your poison across your iPhone or keyboard as well.

The British media has got so excited about Trump.

(Let’s not enter the debate on the politics of it all. I’m more comfortable respecting the Americans to make democratic decisions without proffering a profound view).

Why are the British media so interested in the US President? We’ve never shown anything like this interest in previous Presidents. During George W Bush’s tenure we had the collapse of the US banking system where I lost my job and the deployment of British troops in Iraq! It isn’t as if they have not affected our lives in the UK until now.

Journalists and their editors are fixated. It is as if no judgement is exercised on how and what to cover other than something that interests them.

Not fair? Well let’s talk about this – remember ‘The Leveson Inquiry’? This was a judicial public inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the British press. Really nobody in the British public gave a damn. Yet radio shows were stopped for breaking news, it was the headline news on TV, radio and Internet for a few weeks. Now as a publisher, editor or journalist then I may be very interested professionally but it is as if they didn’t see beyond their bubble and personal pre-occupations.

It was telling on last night’s BBC TV’s “Question Time’ when the obligatory anti-Brexit question of ‘What do the panel think would be the result of a Second Referendum now?’ got hit into the long grass by all the panelists who had little interest in the question and whilst all waffled around the subject then it was interesting that no one answered the actual question. The point being that the issue or story has no life in it. This was despite it being a week where the Prime Minister outlined more about a future UK trading position outside the European Union.

So do I want less information and less investigation? No I want relevance and an appropriate level of coverage.

Less is more as they say. 

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