Thursday, March 11, 2010


This week I have heard 'news'........  So what?

At the beginning of the week BBC Radio 4's flagship news programme, A.M. announced that the mayor of a town in Thuringen, Germany, had the novel idea of selling pot holes.  You can pay about £45 for a 'good' pot hole.  From the discussion it sounded like some of the pot holes were deep enough to abseil down!  Your donation would allow your very own dedication to lie over the repaired hole in the road.

Yesterday, Wednesday 10th March 2010, there was  general news reporting and sharp analysis on the domestic banking reports.  It was balanced off with a brief review of how this news sat with global financial developments. To my chagrin, I was unable to keep the channel tuned because of the location I was in.

Not being able to continue to listen  to BBC Radio 4,  I tuned in to Radio Scotland, who present a morning news round, meant I think to offer quality analysis with news, but with the specific Scottish  elements or focus.   I was surprised to hear again, about the pot holes in Germany, by now, well past being fresh news, followed by the banking news of the day, which had huge gaps,  missing very important information and thereby, changing the character of the report beyond recognition. 

Radio Scotland, sadly, presented old news  to fill a space, I should think, although they could have produced in the time, a better and broader and more honest analysis of the banking feature.  What I heard on Scottish news was so bereft of vital elements, which, had I not known about from its sister news broadcast on Radio 4, (which comes from London) would have skewed the news to the point of being disingenuous, at the least, inexpert at best.

There are plenty of  snappy  sound-bite magazine programmes on radio and TV channels, there is also plenty of shallow provision in the tabloid media.  Unfortunately, the  broadsheets, (they were once quality papers to read and study) are dumbing down and going in the same sound-bite direction.  I am not naive about newspaper slants, but amongst their articles there could always be found interesting features and analysis from more than one point of view.  Thinking, comparing and analysis was allowed!!

Scotland's main Radio station has got to be better than any of this.  It is not.  I found it very disappointing indeed.


Vincent said...

Well, for a start, Radio 4 itself is not of consistently high standard. Your experience of Radio Scotland is, I'd suggest, a timely message to distrust all news from anywhere.

As for the German potholes-for-sale story, when Radio 4 put it out it was so new that it had not yet been implemented - had merely been approved by their town council. It is definitely not past its sell-by date, and could do with plenty of airing because we have yet to learn how successful it proves in practice. If it does, then it may be an example to follow here.

It's my observation that the radio journalism of the BBC is very patchy. The big names at the top - John Humphrys, Kate Adie, John Simpson (or these could be considered the old guard!) - are admirable. But the young hopefuls, and those who write the news, make me squirm with their ignorant use of words, clichés, pronunciation and ridiculous intonation; though they quite unnecessarily try to use the correct foreign pronunciation, giving the impression that President Sarkozy has a girl's name Nicola, instead of a boy's name Nicholas. We say Paris, not Paree! I could rant on, but summarise as follows: radio is better than TV, Radio 3 is the least infuriating in its brief news summaries.

ZACL said...

Ah, Vincent,

There is so much I agree with you on here. 'Old guard' oh dear, that probably means us as well.

There are times when A.M is patchy, agreed. The team have a few people in training at the moment. They still need to find their own style rather than copy someone else's. It is refreshing not to get a John Humphries rant and over-talking of his views though. I hope he modifies a little more cleverly with additional age. There are signs of it creeping in.

How clever of Radio 4 to get a scoop of the in-depth details of the pot hole news when it was so fresh on the paper. Personally, I don't want to see the idea adopted here. We pay sufficient taxes that are meant to cover road repair...though of course, I have not a shred of doubt that the money has been misappropriated.

I get irritated with very poor attempts at 'correct' pronunciation. I have a French friend called Nicolas and I make it my business to sound his name in a manner which he personally recognises. That said, some attempt at being correct, is better than no attempt at all. English arrogance in speech, has to be tempered with respect, if we desire some respect in return.

Radio 3 is much more like The World Service used to be. I like it. I do however, wish to hear the analyses of knowledgeable people,and more than one point of view. I can get it a lot of the time on Radio 4, and an even greater variety if I listen to all three news outputs, A.M., the one o'clock news and P.M. This is not regularly possible, but worth a try IMHO.