Told You I’d be Back

Well, it’s been a while since I put down my virtual blogging pen to concentrate on other things, like developing the new skills available in Titan Quest through the Immortal Throne expansion and by reading more books. Nothing heavy you understand – I’ve been belatedly ploughing my way through the fast- paced novels by Simon Kernick that I only recently stumbled upon, with the latest, Severed, in the Fathers’ Day gift wrap. Hopefully.

I’ve also spent time drifting the web finding interesting sites. I won’t bore you with the detail, but two worth a visit are The Riddle of Life which does make you think again about the Bible and LiteSum in which you type in what interests you and pulls up a summary from Wikipedia. Try Canal Street Manchester for example. It is a bit slow though.

I’ve reading other people’s blogs as well as adding daily to my tumblelog which involves far less effort than writing your own thoughts. Let the commentators comment, I say, rather than comment on the commentators. And now I shall contradict myself by adding my two pen’orth as to whether TB was right or wrong in his views about the “feral” media.

Actually that’s not strictly true. I’ll leave the rights and wrongs of the debate to others, mine is more an observation as someone who has worked with the media for more years than he cares to remember and how it has changed incredibly in that time.

Back then there was a rhythm to the media day. Broadcast media had news at breakfast, lunch and early and late evening and a story would remain pretty static throughout. The print media had you busy in the afternoon for the morning papers or early morning for the evenings.

One thing changed all that – technology. First there was satellite and cable broadcasting that changed the news horizon. There were suddenly stations dedicated to news and the insatiable beast that 24/7 rolling news programmes was born. Radio followed suit with the creation of new BBC talk stations that were “more news and sport” and local stations adding to the news gathering throng.

Then the web added to the pressure. It was how more and more of us began to get our news and the print media had to fight back. At one time, an evening paper was written by 9am and had to use the ‘stop press’ button to add the scantest detail of any breaking story. Nowadays the first edition is on the street by 6am and journalists are working almost round the clock.

So things have changed, but others haven’t, particularly the politician’s three card trick – the morning bulletin that says that “such-and-such a minister is expected to announce…”, the midday bulletin that confirms that the minister did indeed announce as expected followed by the analysis in the evening. But with 24/7 rolling news, every single programme wants to move the story along with a new take on it and it can be bloody wearing for those on the receiving end.

I’m not feeling sorry for the politicians here – that’s what they’re paid for and indeed what they desire. It’s the ‘ordinary’ people who get caught up in maelstrom who suffer. I’ve been involved in my fair share of major stories to manage and whereas a briefing and few interviews would have sufficed, now the demand is bloody relentless.

Drive Time wants its own interview, usually live down the line. The Today programme expects the same, as does Radios One Two etc and suddenly you’re expected to do four, five or six separate interviews over a 24 hour period. And that’s just the BBC, not including telly or the numerous independent commercial stations also want a piece of you.

This happened not long ago with a major, controversial issue that we’d planned for went public. The doctor who’d agreed to front it was great, but he ended up doing interview after interview over an afternoon, evening and morning. To say he was wasted by the experience is an understatement.

So for TB to say that the media has become feral is quite true in its literal sense – the domestic animal of yesteryear has escaped into the 21st century to become the untameable beast it is today.

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

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