Doing battle with daily dragons

Monday, December 12, 2005

Coming Up Next...More of the Same

I love being able to get anything I want 24 hours a day. It’s slightly easier in the States where archaic retail practices have given way to all night shopping and a dramatic increase of “shufflers”. (If you’d ever ended up in a Super Wal-Mart at 3 am, you’ll know who I’m talking about) However, the rise of the 24 hour news phenomenon, is, I feel, a mixed blessing.

From the public perspective, it’s great. Want to know what’s going on? No problem, there’s ALWAYS someone there to give you the latest update, looking fresh as a daisy and no matter HOW long the story has been going on, they report it with that first-few-minutes sense of urgency so that you don’t have to feel guilty about not knowing that aliens landed on the roof of Yorkminster Cathedral almost 5 hours ago and the first you heard of it was a text from your mate going, “Dude, U R not going 2 BELIEVE this!”

The people who do NOT benefit from this continuous recitation of information are most certainly the people forced to report it.

Case in point: Something woke me up at 6am on Sunday morning. I heard it subconsciously and sat up instantly, banging my head on the bottom of the shelf above the bed. (Canal boats were not made with sudden catastrophic early morning events that might make you sit bolt upright in bed in mind.) I discovered several hours later (since I didn’t find the cause of alarm, I went back to sleep) that something very large about 10 miles away from us exploded fairly violently. Indeed, my in-laws garage door came off of its hinges. (We have a friend who lives right around the corner from the oil refinery in question who is now missing several windows and a couple of bedroom curtains.)

Needless to say, the press were on the scene fairly quickly, fairly widdling on themselves in a fit of journalistic excess. Something huge has blown up! Lookie, lookie, lookie! See the smoke? The flames? Blanket of toxic smoke! Spreading out over 3 counties! You can see it from space! (pant) Might be terrorists! (pant pant) They get everywhere these days! (pant pant pant) We sure hope it is, cause it’s a lot more interesting that the some- guy- lighting- a- cigarette theory!

They kept up this frantic pace for the first 3 hours or so. But suddenly, around the 4 hour mark, when it became apparent that nothing else was going to blow up, the round the clock news machine began to fall apart and realized, that, with the absence of anything more to say, they were going to have to start talking TO MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC. This is always a failing of news in general, but particularly of the 24 hour variety because they are so desperate for new angles they’ll put complete brain donors on the phone or in front of the camera, leaving anchors and viewers alike cringing in their seats.

“My girlfriend’s mum said her neighbour fought she saw a plane crash into it!”

“It was like, the biggest bang evah, innit? It knocked my Razzle magazine collection right offa the wall, yeah?”

“We saw some guys hangin’ around there last week and they looked like those muslims guys, so s’not really a surprise the whole thing gone up.”

IMHO, The Public should really only be consulted about a news event such as a large fire if The Public in question happens to actually BE on fire.

“So how does it feel to be on fire?”

“Well, you know, it’s hot.”

We must ask badly do we REALLY need to know?