in General

24 hour news coverage is the bane of modern society

I don’t know about you, but I’m beginning to think that 24 hour news is now the bane of modern society, spreading cynicism, fear and a short memory.

The power that rolling news coverage over stories, even if they are small stories, is begining to get out of control.

If we take a broad overview of news coverage, we’ll see a common thread;

  • A need to keep breaking news
  • A need to follow news stories as they develop
  • A need to keep viewers watching

With that in mind, 24 hour news is in a constant war with itself (and other providers) to provide even more in-depth analysis, and even in some cases, trying to solve a crime live on air; whether that’s hiring ex-police detectives to walk a street with a reporter, or if its telling the public that a person is a suspected criminal by meerly mentioning his name on TV, all for the sake of “breaking news”, and keeping people watching.

Fear, of course, is a well established way of keeping people watching, and when the news editors combine the notion of fear with rolling news coverage, and add “breaking news” every 15 minutes; they can keep a whole nation watching.

The thing that irrates me is that the coverage can be so one-sided, or it’ll character assassinate someone because they call them a suspect, and helps turns the whole “innocent until proven guilty” on its head.

Another issue that frustrates me is that news reporters seem to have a very short memory span; and constantly break “new” stories, when that isn’t the case at all, or constantly ram down a news story down our throats, even if the story is old, and has no real value – like covering “Second Life”, or some other god-forsaken waste-of-space Z-list Celebrity.

Whereas in the past reporters meerly reported the news, now the reporters must make, break and report the news all at the same time. What’s ironic, is that reporters, editors all know of these issues but don’t do much about it, and whenever someone criticises the situation, they report it as a story, saying, “Mr X has accused the media”, as if the word media was somehow a catch-all clause, rather than a specific issue.

I remember Charlie Brooker of BBC’s Screenwipe saying something like “it just feels like a big conspiracy. That somehow, they’re are trying to keep us scared, and inside just in case we miss yet another breaking news item.”.

Whilst I don’t think we’re in danger of entering a whole brave new world where the UK populous is constantly watching a corporate version of Big Brother; I do however fear that the nature of the 24 hour beast will inevitably leave us cynical and less hungry for real news stories.