Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Real events lapped by out of control news cycle

I get the feeling that the media is now moving so quickly that it finds that the actual events it's covering a little bit slow. Even the madness of the last couple of weeks, where people like Robert Peston have been putting out stories on the hour and governments have been changing their policies daily, don't seem quite pacy enough for them. The broadcast media love this kind of thing, where they feel at the centre of events and so much takes place in their studios they don't even have to cross their own thresholds in search of stories. If an hour goes by without a new storyline you can almost hear them drumming their fingers and looking at their watches.

This morning, following the partial recovery of shares in the Far East, they seem to be saying we should all bask in a feeling of relief. I even heard an interviewer just put the question "Is the worst of it over?" My grandmother was no economist but she would have known that was a stupid question.

And at the same time the very people who said a few weeks ago that Gordon Brown was fatally wounded have now decided that he bestrides the world of affairs like a Colossus. Across the Atlantic the media seem to have already banked Barack Obama's poll leads and decided that he should start picking out curtains. The blogs about him have that feeling of a new crush that accompanied Blair into Downing Street. It's the depth of the unrealistic infatuation that makes the subsequent disillusionment so bitter.

Plus there's the satire cycle. If you go on to Huffington Post it's impossible to tell whether people are responding to the events or the satirical spin on those events. They say Sarah Palin is about to appear on "Saturday Night Live" to check on Tina Fey's impression of her. A week ago John McCain cancelled on David Letterman. Letterman made such a fuss on the air that he's forced to change his plans and appear. Letterman made a joke about the road to the White House leading right through his studio. He was joking, I think.


  1. You're so right, David.

    I caught ten minutes of Sky news earlier, and they were in a hyperreal frenzy about Madonna and Guy Richie. Don't know or care whether there's been an official announcement since, but at that time Sky were gravely announcing an "impending statement on the collapse of Madonna's marriage". Not an *actual* statement, of course. As you say, by time *that* comes the story (such as it is) will be thought dead - the simulation being much preferable.

    Their interactive service even had a screen devoted to this 'breaking news', with The Scum's showbiz editor prattling on, and numerous reporters doorstepping numerous of the 'unhappy couples' houses - one of whom was desperate enough to start theorising on where Guy might be sleeping tonight.

  2. News bulletins every half-hour on BBC radio... Why. Why why why why why. Why.

  3. And don't forget Ringo's fan mail.