Have the BBC and other mainstream broadcasters given up on news? The thought occurred during the recent coverage of the World Cup.
The main news story would routinely be a package of interviews and comment about an upcoming game. Not news but speculation. Then with no hint of irony, there would be a move to “other news”, which could be something like at earthquake or buildings destroyed, costing many lives.
The total takeover of the news agenda by one subject has become the norm over recent times.
At the time of the Queen’s death, there were ten days of relentless, monotonous coverage. No other news was allowed a look in. Indeed, the coverage took over the whole schedule each day, as all those programs carefully produced for many years before, awaiting the very day of the Queen’s death, were rolled out.
No dissenting views were permitted, as a sort of coercive compassion took hold.
In defence of the broadcasters, this was a once in a lifetime event. There was huge interest amongst the public. But it did go a bit far.
This fixation on one subject to the exclusion of all else is something that seems to have developed over recent years. Another was the Covid pandemic. Little else featured in the news, with infection levels and deaths becoming a daily staple of the coverage.
What may have surprised many since has been just how quickly the news agenda shifted in the opposite direction to providing virtually no coverage of Covid.
Conspiracy theorists of a Big Brother mindset might think there is some sort of news control going on, switching saturation coverage to suit the interests of the rich and powerful.
It seems doubtful if anything so organised could happen, more a gradual chipping away of traditional news values.
All is not lost of course, there are so many different places to get news and information these days. The mainstream news channels are but one.
Though, in the era of fake news, reliable trusted sources of information are ever more urgently needed. The mainstream news channels used, to some extent, to perform this task. Now, it would seem, increasingly less.
Maybe, they will rediscover their news value compass – relearn what news really is. Put some money into news. The demand should be there. Or maybe not, as people become blinded by a steady diet of the mundane and mindless mixed in with the fear factor.
- Paul Donovan is a Redbridge Labour councillor for Wanstead village and blogger. See paulfdonovan.blogspot.com