I have travelled a great deal and spent many a night alone in a distant, overseas hotel room. I switch on the TV and always end up watching BBC News 24 or CNN and it is probably the only time I really watch the News. I do listen to it on the radio when in the UK. There is a News report every hour. Then, of course, there is the internet. the BBC stream is my homepage. I can’t avoid the News in one form or another. The world is full of News.
We all have distorted memories of the past, and always they are better days, but I am sure today there are very different editorial guidelines. But that has to be. Then the outlets for News were far fewer. One of the curses of 21st-century technology is 24-hour News. The space has to be filled. But, if you want proof of the change in policy look back to 18th April 1930.
The BBC’s News announcer had nothing to communicate. “There is no News,” was the script of the 20:45 News bulletin, before piano music was played for the rest of the 15-minute segment. The wireless service then returned to broadcasting from the Queen’s Hall in Langham Place, London, where the Wagner opera Parsifal was being performed. Having once been at a concert performance of Parsifal maybe on that day I would have preferred some trivial News.
Today, I no longer know what constitutes News. I always thought News was meant to be factual but so much of the current output is commentary. Paid journalist or a talking head off the street tell me what I should be thinking. I am perfectly able to come to an opinion if I am given data. I need data, context is fine, but I don’t get that from the News.
It can be done. I am often awake at 1 am listening to BBC Radio 4. Why this is important is that at this time the station turns in to the BBC World Service. Not only does the News become more global it also becomes more factual.
But maybe I am alone with my concern. When I came back from Dubai for the summer holiday or Christmas we would go to the kid’s school and more often than not meet other parents. Many were also friends. I loved meeting them, but I did often find the conversation horribly parochial. When you live as an ex-pat your interest is much more global.
Fortunately, I am not a News editor and don’t have to make the decisions on what is reported, and that is probably good for everyone else. The News would become more global and the number of human-interest stories reduced.
President Trump sacking Rex Tillerson is News but what Melania has for breakfast is not, but I am sure if she changes her diet we would hear about it.
What this fascination with the new News has allowed is the rise of the celebrity or reality show star who has no discernible skill or talent other than being famous. Think Kardashian if you want a reference point. Am I just being an old fuddy-duddy pining for the past? Probably but in a voyeuristic kind of way I have an interest in the Kardashians but please not in the main News. Keep gossip and the News apart.
Meanwhile, I am humming Paul Simon’s song The Only Living Boy In New York. Can you remember it? Here are the words, and here I am, the only living boy in New York. I get the News I need on the weather report. I can gather all the News I need on the weather reports.