Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Enough Already!

Earlier today I got a bit of flak on Twitter for suggesting that watching the rolling coverage of the Chilean miner rescue had turned into a bore-a-thon and was akin to watching paint dry. And yet the two 24 hour news channels persist in pretending that there was no other news today. Viewers would have apparently not known that Ed Miliband had his first outing at PMQs today. Or that Lady Thatcher celebrated her 85th birthday in Downing Street. Because all we got was repetitive pictures of the emerging miners. Now don't get me wrong, it is a fantastic story and like everyone else I am delighted they have been rescued. But to fill 24 hours of two news channels with this story to the exclusion of everything else is surely worth a quizzical question or two.

I suppose both channels might have interrupted their coverage to bring us other news, but if they did I certainly wasn't watching at the time. Perhaps they know from their audience reaction that most people were happy for them to stay with the story and it may be the case that I am totally out of tune with the popular mood, but when I came back from my evening out wanting to get a roundup of the days news. both channels failed me.

Luckily Radios 4, 5 and LBC didn't follow suit and managed to maintain normal schedules. Yes, Chile was the lead story, and so it should have been, but they also covered other stories in the news too. So should the BBC News Channel and Sky have done.

What do you think?

37 comments:

Pam Nash said...

BBC 1 had a normal news bulletin at 10pm, BBC website has all news. To be honest, I've been gripped, and touched, by the Chilean miners coverage.

Douglas said...

I think perhaps you and the rest of us have different requirements of our 24hr news channels.

I watch them to see what is basically making the top story at the time. And accross the world (CNN, FOX, etc are doing the same) the miners has been the story.

I did see PMQs on Sky so that was covered. BBC has a parliament channel remember!

And the 6pm News, 7pm News, 10pm News and Newsnight gave me more in depth coverage. Why look for that level of coverage in a 24hr news channel?

Oh, and Thatcher would not have covered more than two 20 mins chunks (arrival and departure) so you may have missed it.

cynicalHighlander said...

Sorry Iain we all have birthdays every year its not an uncommon occasion no matter the number. The miners story is about real people doing proper jobs not scrounging of the public purse filling in their exspense claims in the house of commons, if only.

Thomas said...

I whole heartedly agree. This is a wonderful human interest story but 24 - 36 hours covering the same event, one miner up... there's the bell another is on their way, just left me coald. At least the politics show on BBC 2 showed PMQ's

Osama the Nazarene said...

Am inclined to agree with you. 5 live this morning kept returning to each miner, naming them and briefly describing them, as they were winched up but did not neglect the other news items.

Sounds like Sky & BBC News 24 took the lazy approach.

Jimmy said...

Could be worse. Midway through and going to commercials CNN's anchor urged viewers not to change channel assuring them that something could still go wrong.

jailhouselawyer said...

Call it the revenge of the miners to spoil Maggie's birthday celebration.

Tom Harris said...

I thought it was a bit too much as well. Of course it should have been the main story, but uninterrupted coverage?! Not necessary, IMO.

Paul Owen said...

I agree with you. The story, though uplifting and great as a human interest story, is actually dull to just major on all day long. Nothing happens for long periods of time. Yes show us the miners emerging and some of the other pictures but why the endless commentary and analysis? What is there to analyse?

The trouble is that TV news does love stories with dramatic pictures and people blubbing. So this is manna from heaven. It also explains why the radio stations you mention are giving it far less prominence. 24 hour news is often great but it lets itself down at times like this. You're better off watching the main bulletins, Newsnight or even just reading the newspapers which will be able to show the pictures but be rather more considered in their coverage.

Lauchlan McLean said...

Could be worse, Either Commonwealth Games or snooker. Listen to LBC.

Peter Ruddick said...

Trouble is that TV News is dependent on pictures - no better pictures today than those miners getting released. Every rescue is unique so every picture is just as valid as the rest. People watch rolling news for a short period of time and today the majority of people turning on would have expected to see the miners - don't think the channels had a choice!

Terry said...

Agree totally. It is an amazing feat to have rescued them in this short space of time and great credit to the rescuers.
The Beeb sent more people than all the other national broadcasters put together so they've got to justify their existence and further waste of licence payers' money.

Hoganist said...

24-hour news isn't intended to be watched 24-hours a day. News junkies who spend all day with news channels on in the background are, I imagine, very much in the minority of viewers. Anyone watching the news channels for only a few minutes, as intended by the producers, would have got the story of the day and been satisfied.

Stuart Winton said...

Agree.

The first few and the last few could have been covered uninterrupted - particularly since both occured in the early hours - and the rest could have cut into the normal broadcast when they were close to the surface, but I suppose it was easier for the broadcasters to provide non-stop coverage.

Oh well, now we're onto the Chilean president doing a bit of grandstanding, but there are still five of the rescue workers below ground!

BTW, I'm not up this late just to watch the climax, honest!

Newmark said...

I thought that they were covering Margaret Thatcher's birthday when they mentioned Lady GaGa but it turned out to be about an American pop singer.

Newmark said...

I thought that they were covering Margaret Thatcher's birthday when they mentioned Lady GaGa but it turned out to be about an American pop singer.

David Cotton said...

For once, I utterly disagree.
Chile is a good news story. It is also a time-limited one - the coverage will more or less over when all the miners are out.

Ed Milliband's outing got some good coverage on both the six news on BBC 1 and on Channel 4 News. I was also watching some BBC News Channel and the Chile coverage was *not* to the exclusion of everything else - they talked abut plenty of other subjects.

People were calling into R5L complaining about it, but what else did they have to talk about? Liverpool's sale and the High court bid. Avarice unbounded and the worst of humanity.

The majority of people in the UK are not football supporters, yet those of us who are not have to be subjected to countless hours of coverage of it on TV every week, even out of season. The most infantile details and rumours are poured over endlessly. Of course, you're a fan, so you don't quite see it that way.

The events in Chile shows the best of humanity. They show the courage, ingenuity and love that people can exhibit for each other; that, in extremis, strangers can work together against high odds. Which are, I think, characteristics that Thatcher would approve of.

Windsor Tripehound said...

Peter Ruddick said...
Trouble is that TV News is dependent on pictures


You've reminded of a "that was the week that was" sketch (shows how old I am). David Frost, in the persona of a news reader, reported that someone had just been appointed Lord Privy Seal.

He spoke the three words slowly, and each was accompanied by a picture. You can use your imagination!

Dick the Prick said...

It's a miner's job to bore.

I'll get my coat.

no longer anonymous said...

I could tell it was going on too long when the commentators had run out of things to say e.g. "this capsule is doing exactly what it was designed to do". Well really?! Chris Morris would have had a field day ripping it out of these clowns.

The commentators should be told to shut up if they have nothing worthwhile to say.

JB said...

I agree. I gave up watching TV news years ago. It is just light entertainment. I read the newspapers and blogs that report the news I want to know, and follow a few breaking news feeds on Twitter in case anything exciting happens, and so that I know what the masses are thinking about.

DespairingLiberal said...

It does point a finger yet again at the colossal waste of money that 24-hour rolling news is - these feeding frenzy stories only pop up about once a year. The rest of the time, the expensive machinery ticks along with about 5 viewers and overpaid presenters bored out of their skulls. The BBC has spent huge amounts on News 24, which has tiny viewing figures. This money could have been spent on drama, comedy and documentary, perish the thought. So it's not surprising they try to catch up by going wall-to-wall when this kind of story comes along. Even CNN are apparently in financial trouble now - there are only so many hotel ads in a recession.

Still, the "bore-a-thon" comment has now made Master Dale's Wikipedia entry as well, so there must be some disgust out there at it!

clemthegem said...

I think most people have ben gripped by the Chilean rescue story, which shows that we all do feel empathy for others in a desperate situation. However, the coverage has mainly been about the mechanics of the rescue (as it should be), and there has been no real focus at all on the safety record of either the mine or the company that owns it.
Surely it would be better to see if this was preventable, rather than ignoring this angle in favour of simple "human interest". The Chilean Government is reaping the benefit from the rescue - does it deserve to?

SadButMadLad said...

Just shows the news is more entertainment than actually informative. If it was informative, then a 10 min piece would have covered it. But by being entertainment it was on all the time - just another form of reality TV.

Weygand said...

Quite agree - was just like counting sheeee....

Bardirect said...

Legitimate in my view to have wall to wall coverage of this unique event.

What was not legitimate to have so many journos. Matt Frei interviewing another BBC guy who had been there some weeks, cutting to another guy on top of the hill and radio was also represented with the elfin like Caroline Hawley doing her bit for Radio4.guy

They never get tired of spending our money.

Steve C said...

Iain, you are 100% correct. On a human level of course we are all thankful that the miners in Chile are safe but the wet, political correctness coming from those who think the domination of this story on the news recently is correct makes me feel nauseas!

Shaffers said...

I agree. No denying it's a marvellous, noble and heart warming story, but the overkill of mundanity squashes what should be a tantalising piece of coverage. And why so many BBC correspondents? Even allowing for union enforced "shift patterns", surely a needless cost to have so many.

bewick said...

Well you know Iain there really ARE more than 2 channels on a TV.
As I understand it the Beeb was actually syndicating their coverage to the US and Australasia, perhaps elsewhere, so the money spent probably drew in some reward and perhaps even a profit.
Must admit that I couldn't tear myself away until the 1st miner was rescued just after 4.00 a.m yesterday. This was a momentous moment and I saw it as it happened and will remember forever..

After that I just caught up as and when. I DID though sit up until after 2.00 this morning to see the final miner rescued.
Some on here have said Pinara was grandstanding. Maybe but there were GENUINE tears in his eyes as the last man reached the surface.
Both he and his wife were there throughout to meet each miner as he emerged. So were Cabinet members.
Can you see ANY British or even Western politician doing that and living in a camper van for 48 hours? I can't. Obama hasn't even telephoned Pinara according to US bloggers.
Credit to Pinara and Chile and everyone involved. Chi Chi Chi Le le Le.
GOOD news in a bad world.

Jabba the Cat said...

Now that they have pulled the miners out we can go from watching paint drying to watching paint being scraped off the asylum walls...

Eoghan said...

Paul Waugh pointed out that there might as well have been a BBC news blackout on h PMQs, for all the attention it got.

Thatcher's birthday? Really???

I was captivated by the miners' story. It's something we're unlikely to ever see again. There's enough coverage of disasters when they go wrong; this was an Apollo 13 moment.

FF said...

Perhaps so. It is an unusual story, and therefore newsworthy: dramatic, involving ordinary people and culminating in a successful result.

What's missing is any deeper analysis. Almost every day there are mining accidents somewhere in the world, where desperate relatives hang around the mineheads hoping that their loved ones will come out alive - only to have that hope slowly drain out of them.

There are implications for us in our comfortable sitting rooms looking at the drama unfolding in Chile. Mines are fundamentally unfit places for human beings, yet we rely on those miners for our raw materials. As we no longer have deep mines in Britain do we just export the danger? Should we endorse open-cast mining that doesn't involve sending men down pits, but has other issues. And then the old but still unresolved issues that underpinned Britain's miners' strike of the eighties. What about the communities still scarred after all the pit closures?

neil craig said...

Recently, in discussionn here, of Andrew Marr's silly outburst against bloggers a small minority of commenters thought he had a point about the MSM breaking the
real stories.

I think the last few days shows this is not the case. Last night both C4 & the BBC evening news were 50% given over to pictures from Chile. They gave it absolutely no coverage when the initial mine collapse happened, which in objective terms is more important. None of the coverage has been about the political manoeuverings to take credit for, or initially to avoid blame for it; not even has there been any reporting of exactly how this magnificent technical feat was achieved. The coverage has simply been of people coming out, with a side order of how much money the publicity will bt worth for them.

This isn't news, it isn't journalists investigating, it is simply TV crews being spoonfed the equivalent of big brother, waiting as we see who gets out next.

In the same period the blogsphere has gone viral with the 10:10 child murder video & the physicist's resignation letter - both of which are genuine breaking
news stories not laid on in advance, not planted by some government agency & both of which have been censored from both sets of evening news. I should even point out that the video is extremely visual - the very excuse the broadcasters normally use to explain their failure to cover serious stories.

Matthew Hewitt said...

I agree to a point. It is a compelling, inspiring story. However, rolling coverage of it for 24 hours does seem excessive. It will also impact on the BBC's ability to cover more significant stories in the coming year: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/bbc/8064106/BBC-News-short-of-cash-after-100000-spend-on-Chilean-miners-rescue.html

Mike Wagstaff said...

Absolutely right. We can only get Sky News in Malta and it has completely ignored any other news for more than a day and a half. A disgraceful decision which raises questions of judgement.

Stuart Winton said...

Bewick, indeed I couldn't imagine any British politician doing what Pinara did, if only because they'd be accused of grandstanding!

Call me cynical, but perhaps the president's tears were more relief vis-a-vis his own position rather than for the miners?!?

More seriously, I did think that the president's actions and emotions seemed genuine enough, but when he launched into a speech of Chavez/Castro-esque length in the minutes after the last miner came to the surface then I became slightly more cynical.

After all, there were still five of the rescuers below ground, thus if the process was as precarious as claimed then he should have at least waited until they too were back on terra firma.

Goodwin said...

The British news providers seem to have gone the way of CNN in providing only lame domestic stories and the odd major issue of the day. When was the last time they covered something in Africa or the sub-continent (other than the Commonwealth Games)? Sadly the only serious global news provider is Al Jazeera.