Saw this on the interwebs today… another video that should be shown to every journalism student the day after they enrol:
Charlie Brooker has always been a bit hit-or-miss for me, but his new BBC series, Newsswipe, really has hit the mark – here’s an example which will probably become essential viewing in every journalism school across the UK:
A friend of mine twittered enthusiastically from Malta today:
NewsXchange conference session on political news for a younger audience. Great title: “Are we boring you?”
Yes, I had to agree, a great title, so I headed over to the NewsXchange website to see if I could find out more. Nice blurb there on the agenda, so I wanted to know more – ah, it’s happening right now, so is there a stream I could subscribe to?
Maybe it’ll be available online later?
A brief look at the previous conference agendas soon put me straight.
Then I saw the tag-line: “for broadcasters by broadcasters” and the penny dropped with a resounding thud.
Here we have a large room in a nice hotel in Malta filled with some of the best TV news folk in the business, but because they still have their collective old media heads stuck up their old media proverbials, the NewsXchange is reduced to being nothing more than a bunch of self-serving hot-air producers pontificating about the future of their industry behind closed doors.
No social media, no streaming, no podcasts, no blog, no tweets (bar the teaser above) – just the same old, same old.
What an opportunity missed.
Bye bye, broadcast news, it was nice knowing you.
After yesterday’s post it was interesting to see that Al Jazeera English are not the only ones who are behind the curve on new media – Sky News, no less, have been trumpeting their latest innovation: Sky News being streamed for free on their website.
Good Lord, how have I struggled through the past few years only being able to watch BBC, ITN, CNN, MSNBC, Russia Today and Al Jazeera English, all of whom have been streaming their live output for free for years?
Cue chest thumping from the Sky News bunker:
With Sky News now available on more platforms than ever – on TV, online, on mobiles, through iphone and ipod touch apps, at train stations and on planes – there’s barely a screen in Britain now where you can’t access Sky News.
I’m always reminded at this point of the creatures Douglas Adams once described in The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who had 50 arms each and so invented the under-arm deodorant before the wheel – one wonders how Sky News could ever have thought it was more important to have an iPhone application BEFORE a live free stream.
Maybe the answer can be found in Michael Woolf’s excellent takedown of old Digger Murdoch in a recent edition of Vanity Fair, which sums up everything you ever need to know about the sad attitude of old media execs to the future of media.
As for Sky News, I guess someone there is feeling really pleased with themselves this morning, and wondering whether they should go one step further, and put Sky News content into print…
There’s revolution formenting in Iran and outrage among the people of Britain, so what does our beleaguered and spineless Government go and do? It releases Lord Carter’s report on Digital Britain, yes, all 245 pages of it.
The introduction started thus:
On 26 August 1768, when Captain James Cook set sail for Australia, it took 2 years and 320 days before he returned to describe what he found there.
and that’s where I gave up, because that told me everything I needed to know about Lord Carter’s report.
First of all, Captain James Cook did not set sail for Australia (which at that time was almost unknown, and the bits that were known of had been named New Holland by the Dutch), the Admiralty (at the behest of the Royal Society) ordered him to travel to the Pacific so that astronomer Charles Green could observe and record the transit of Venus across the sun.
It was only when this part of the voyage was complete that Cook opened sealed orders instructing him to search for the southern continent of Terra Australis, which the Royal Society were convinced was somewhere in the southern Pacific, and that the voyage to Tahiti would be an inconspicuous cover for a voyage of colonial expansion.
So off he went, eventually visiting and mapping New Zealand, Tasmania and Australia, and claiming them for the British Empire.
He got back to England in 1771 but it was months before accounts of his voyage were published, and the Royal Society weren’t happy because the land mass Cook found (known today as Australia) didn’t meet their expectations, so they sent Cook off again in 1772 to search for Terra Australis, which Cook found – we know it today as Antarctica.
So here we have a modern day report on the state of Digital Britain which contains, in the very first sentence, a dumbed down statement of remarkable inaccuracy, and which was confirmed as such in seconds with a Google search.
In the time is has taken for this report to be drawn up, the world has already changed, politicians have been discredited, the credibility of government is in tatters and anyone who’s ever used the interwebs knows that any government attempt to stop downloading simply won’t stop people getting hold of free content.
It’s also interesting about the “basic level” of broadband being described at 2mbps, on which even YouTube struggles, and this also conveniently ignores another ignaminious bit of British history.
The newly formed British Telecom had a plan to run optical fibre to every home in Britain in the early 1980s; the then prime minister Margaret Thatcher decided instead to privatise BT to raise money for tax cuts and to pay-off government debt, so the whole project was cancelled, and 20 years on we’re still paying for the lack of investment.
Lord Carter has wasted a massive opportunity to announce some real changes, instead what we have is the same tired old debate about top slicing the licence fee to shore up failing businesses and a stealth tax on landline telephones – which guarantees to penalise the poor and the elderly and force them to pay for services they don’t use.
How ironic then that Lord Carter evokes the name of the great Captain Cook to launch such a pitiful report – in the 18th Century Cook risked life and limb several times for the glory of his country, advancing science and understanding and making history.
Meanwhile here in the 21st Century Lord Carter spinelessly fleeces the poor, ignores the country, dithers and disappoints and all of this while trying to re-write history.
It’s all just too pathetic for words.
Have to take my hat off to the bloggers over at The Guardian, in this case Chris Michael who has written a wonderful retrospective on William Shatner.
I’m not going to add anything, just go read the piece yourself and do make sure you follow the links to enjoy some vintage Shatner – his evisceration of the young director during a recording session is a perfect example of how to completely take someone apart, and ensure they love you for it afterwards – I wonder who the poor sap on the other side of the glass was, and what happened to his career afterwards.
Anyway, stop reading here and go over there and I’m sure you’ll agree with their conclusion:
William Shatner may be a living joke, but his dignity, not to say his genius, is that he’s the one telling it.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a great fan of the BBC and the part it plays at the heart of British life and journalism; I only have to watch five minutes of an American network news bulletin to see what it has done to maintain standards of journalistic integrity in the UK.
Over the last few years though it has had its wings clipped by various governments, been bullied and coerced and now it is slowly but surely being driven into the ground by mendacious polticians and useless senior managers.
The latest piece of spectacular stupidity from the “men in grey suits” who run the Corporation is to cut 15% from the budget of the best news programme on TV, Newsnight, and sack the programme’s environment and science reporters.
In the meantime the spineless idiots who run BBC News have decided to create a new job for an overall Arts Editor whose job will be to oversee and enhance the BBC’s coverage of…. well, they say “the Arts”, but we all know that that is a euphemism for “popular culture” where the coverage tends to veer towards world-shuddering journalism asking things like “which soap star is in rehab this week”, “which vacuous teenage pop star is pregnant again” and “which member of the Big Brother house put what up their nose today”.
One of the biggest stories of this century will be the climate and the way it is changing; explaining that to the lay audience is a massive challenge and one that has to be done by specialist journalists who can translate the scientific jargon into easy and accessible reporting.
We’ve already had the cringe-inducing spectacle of the coverage of the death of Jade Goody, but this is only the beginning, a mere taster of the hype-obsessed headlines that will pass for news in the future.
Welcome then to BBC News for the next decade – a vanilla mix of pointless stories about soap stars, pop princesses and reality TV wannabes – all there to numb the senses of the audience while the world around us goes to hell in a handcart, torn apart by the small-minded dictators who prefer to wield power than use it to improve lives, and who love it when journalists are more interested in bimbos and gossip rather than hard questions about the economy or the environment.
And where have I seen this already? Oh yes, American TV News. It seems that the BBC’s management has not only lost the plot, it doesn’t even know where to look for one.