The problems with 24 hour news coverage

I'm watching BBC News 24's coverage of the bomb that failed to go off on Haymarket. There is, it would seem, no other news going on anywhere in the world. The regular updates on the quarter-hour aren't happening.

Now, if this were a large story or lots of things were happening or there was new information to report, I'd understand the need for excluding everything else. Instead, they are repeating the same stories over and over. Infuriatingly, they've been endlessly interviewing people from the street. I dislike vox pops anyway - they're as unscientific as you can have - but I really don't care what someone who happened to be in the area thinks about how many people might have died. I heard this exchange on News 24:
Interviewer: "If there had been an explosion, what do you think would have happened?"
Are you, random person, an expert in explosives? Perhaps you have counter-terrorism training, or a medical practitioner of some description? Or perhaps you're a random person from the street who has nothing of value to add as we can see on the television what's going on.
Random: "I think there would have been a lot of fatalities. I would say there were about five hundred people in Tiger, Tiger"
I've been in Tiger, Tiger. It's on four floors. How useful is one random person's opinion of the number of people in there? How useful is their opinion, given that we have only a few details about the bomb, as to the potential number of fatalities? I'd go for 'not useful at all'.

In this report and others, all news channels, including the BBC, have this bloody awful tendency to interview each other. An anchor's job is to anchor and read the news - they are not experts in what's going on; nor are they meant to be. I want to hear what the expert or correspondent has to say (preferably with excess drama, hand-waving or trying to be the next Nick Robinson) without intervention from someone who's job is to read from an autocue.

The only development in the few hours I've been watching the story is closing off Park Lane because of a suspect vehicle in the area. Meanwhile, various government appointments have been made with no reporting, let alone commentary. I am an unashamed supporter of the idea of a BBC and of BBC news coverage. They would make me a lot happier if they led the way in separating news from commentary & opinion, covering what needs to be covered rather than what receives cheap viewing figures.

End rant.



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