Where has all the news gone?

Sunday, 30th September 2007 at 16:29 UTC Leave a comment

We’ve been listening to various radio stations in my house, thanks to a house mate relocating his digital radio to the kitchen. We’ve had some random stuff and some really great music, but what I’ve noticed is that so many of these stations have a really warped infotainment-based view of what makes for news. We’ve had David Beckham’s dad ahead of (and given double the time of) Freedom protesters in Burma, and we’ve had Lewis Hamilton’s Japanese GP win well above the Tory conference.

This all seems to follow a very sad pattern in life, whereby people are fed the news which appeals to them on a level of amusement and fantasy, rather than the harsh reality which TV and Radio originally brought us. On a day when the Burmese are still protesting, the UN envoy has been dispatched, the Conservatives are claiming they can win the next general election (not really news, they’ve been claiming that for years now), a raid by two thousand rebels in Darfur has overrun a peacekeeping base killing 12 and the MDC in Zimbabwe are in talks that will determine whether they take part in fresh elections there, oh and the Navy are on back foot over allegations they might be about to halve ship numbers (there were more possibilities, but I could go on endlessly). The last story at least ought to be UK news.

I’ve put up with this a certain amount during ‘silly season’, but now is the pre-Parliament conference season, and there’s plenty to report, and we might even be facing a general election, not to mention a possible revolution in Burma and large protests against the government in Georgia. We’ve also got the emergence of the news story concerning a new ban on all protests near Parliament, inadequate prevention of suicide attempts in prisons and an inquiry into deaths as a result of police car chase tactics.

Sports news is sports news, and celebrity news is celebrity news (though often its gossip rather than real news) but to give out either of the above as though they’re the life-and-death, top-of-the-hour news just seems to work towards a world where we ignore reality around us, cocooning ourselves from real suffering and injustice. Its also really bad for democracy: people need to be informed so they can vote, and too many people are failing to vote simply because they are not informed enough to do so (though I respect people for saying they won’t vote if they don’t understand the issues).

The media ‘controllers’ – station owners, editors, etc, are redefining what we should be hearing about, and most people aren’t even realising its happening, mostly because its very gradual. Instead, people are being forced to search deeper and harder to actually discover what is going on in the world around them. Instead, most people are simply set to ‘consume’ and will ‘eat what they’re fed’ when it comes to news and the media in general.


Entry filed under: democracy, Media, News, Politics.

More thoughts on Burma October at Graham’s Grumbles

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