I rarely watch TV news. Actually I hardly follow the news at all. Once every couple of months I might pick up a paper (usually the FT because I like their style). Sometimes at the station with time to kill, I look at the newspaper headlines.
This is all because news depresses me. The endless negativity. The partisan nature of the analysis. The time it wastes. The way even sensible people are depicted as idiots – under the pressure of lights, time and deadlines, I’m sure it’s really hard to get a coherent and sane message out, let alone start a useful or enjoyable conversation, which I much prefer.
I studied the news. In fact, I wrote a dissertation about online news at the BBC. Actually, I confess, I worked for BBC News.
And overall I like the news journalists I have met. As a bunch they are bright (sometimes terribly bright), articulate, caring and funny people. I say caring because despite the bluster or detachment which they probably need to do the job, many, many are really caring individuals. I’m sure they care far more than me about global issues, politics, big business and all the really IMPORTANT things.
Things I grew up thinking were important anyway. Like many middle-class kids I was encouraged to read a newspaper. Although I never got beyond the little snippets in the inside pages – “thieves steal 1000 left-footed shoes”.
The major headlines: war, famine, earthquake, disaster – all these fascinated me in a way, but never really engaged me to do anything. Is that a terrible thing to say?
But when I watched the TV news (Channel 4) the other day, just to do something different, I really enjoyed it.
I was struck again by the sheer entertainment value of it. The great music. The amazing graphics. The tension. The suspense. The build-up. The baring of teeth. The bloody combat amongst the protagonists – “no holds barred”. The skill of the referee – goading and urging them on. The silky warm conclusion and the seductive invite to “join them again”.
And overall the absolute art of the piece – drawing me in, and pulling me to the front of my chair, hooking me in.
Like Damien Hirst’s work it may just be a cow cut in half. But, you’ve got to admit, it’s very well done.