Monday, 1 March 2010

AA Gill: Lack of journalists means tv news never got on top of MPs' expenses story

AA Gill in his review of On Expenses in the Sunday Times claimed that broadcast news is "ridiculously short of journalists and researchers" and failed to get on top of the MPs' expenses story.
He wrote:"The parliamentary expenses scandal is the biggest political story of the year; probably the biggest non-foreign-policy story of the decade. It goes to the heart of everything that’s anachronistic, corrupt, unjust and predictable about our politics, and it has rightly filled reams of newspapers. The old press understood the magnitude of the story and got on with it. Television, on the other hand, lagged behind, stood blinking in its own arc lights. It seemed overwhelmed by the amount of information and the speed of revelation. None of the news channels ever looked like getting ahead of or on top of the story. The studios were full of talking heads brought in to comment on what the papers were saying.
"All this highlighted a fundamental weakness in broadcast news. It’s long on Autocue readers, staffed with freelance opinion-mongers and special-interest pleaders, but ridiculously short on journalists or researchers, relying instead on other media or press officers and PRs to furnish stories, which it then examines by hauling in two blokes who disagree to disagree for five minutes. This isn’t a partisan crow on behalf of newsprint — papers equally rely on television for soft features and human interest — but a real concern with the breadth, focus, nerve and stamina in hard-news broadcasting."

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