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This just in…

This just in…

This just in…

We are invited, this fine morning, to feel superior. As we sip our coffee and munch on our toast, we’re presented with a side-dish of superiority, courtesy of our regular television channel’s news readers. We’re invited to join and laugh with them at the hapless loser antics of, well, just about anyone and anybody who dares to raise their head above the parapet and be noticeable, everyone, that is, except for them and, of course, since we’re implicitly invited to join, we ourselves. How nice to wake up and feel superior to those hapless others. How good life can be. That’s on this TV channel, anyway. Let’s watch together in a little more detail. I’ll be mother.

Recently it’s become the fashion for news readers who are doing the pop segment to openly deride the rock stars and musicians they’re discussing.
God knows why they think news readers are superior. I recently saw a very creditable singing effort from someone who had been a contender in one of these staged talent TV shows, where the winners are voted for by the public and are granted seemingly wondrous record deals as a consequence. This girl had come second and was pictured in head shot doing a very creditable vocal into a mike. “She wasn’t the winner” advised one newsreader. “I’m not surprised, singing like that” chortled her male companion, and off go the pair, together with the regular music scene commentator, into peals of laughter at the feeble efforts of the hapless and it must be said, slightly tubby chanteuse.

She sang great, actually. She was bang on. She was right on the money. She hit the spot. I’m a trained singer and I’ve done a little singing myself and I knew. She was good, and I knew and I imagine she knew too. Who didn’t seem to know were the news readers and their, er, specialist music correspondent. What they’d been listening to was a dry vocal, the girl’s naked voice before it had been treated with several thousand pounds worth of special effects in a studio costing a conservative few million pounds by a producer whose income a Greek chorus of news readers couldn’t calculate on all their combined toes and fingers. In other words, this supposedly hapless, loser wannabe dreamer girlie singer sounded just like everyone does before it gets the studio magic added, the same way I do, the same way you do, the same way any singer you could name would if they were just singing dry into a microphone.

Now years ago, they might have got away with this. We’d all have chortled merrily away, none the wiser. Tuned in the next day for more, probably. Which is the point of the exercise. These days, though, given how relatively cheap and easy it is to have a home computer-based studio, more and more people will be aware of this and, along with me, be insulted by the suggestion that they don’t.

It’s ignorant not to know this and it’s a greater ignorance to display this on television and a greater ignorance still to assume that your audience/viewers are similarly as ignorant and thus will feel comfortingly encouraged to chortle right along with you.

I see behaviour like this directed at the viewer – me – and I’m insulted. And it seems to be all over the shop. I recently watched a TV presenter interview a heavyweight economist about the economic conditions in a country where a school was taken over by terrorists. “In order to understand this kind of behaviour, you have to look at the economic conditions typically prevalent in the countries where it surfaces”, says the economist, drawing breath to – presumably – do just that. At this point the interview promptly accused him of supporting terrorism, precipitating what looked like an imminent heart-attack on the part of the economist.

Now there is a clear distinction between being a supporter of terrorism, or even an apologist for terrorism, and observing, being expert in your field, that similar economic conditions are often in place before the rise of terrorism and going on TV in your official capacity to make mention of them. I don’t need that explaining to me – do you?

In this case, the interviewer apparently believed his audience incapable of making the distinction. Again, I was insulted, myself. Since the economist almost went into apoplexy I gather he wasn’t too pleased either.

Being fed up with seeing scenes like the ones I describe above mean I don’t watch a lot of breakfast TV any more. I know well the saying that no-one ever went broke by under-estimating the intelligence of the public. That was before we had the internet, and access to it in every living room. This is the information age, and oh yes, this just in – you can’t treat your audience as if they’re ignorant any more. If you do, they won’t be your audience for too much longer, and hey – how dumb is that?

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