Thursday 2 August 2007

News: Chasing the thrill

News or views?

As I write there are live reports from the collapse of a bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis (Twin Cities) in the United States.

Sometimes I wonder how much more analysis I want from a simple news story - tell me what happened, probably how many people are affected, who to contact for information and where to go for information - like a website, then offer an update at intervals.

It begins to sound like a broken record as the rolling news coverage moves from news to eye witness accounts that so vividly paint the picture that one is almost at risk of reliving the tragic incident from the comfort and safety of one's armchair at home.

This whole idea of throwing journalists into the thick of it is going to the extreme; embedded journalists in war zones, news correspondents waist-deep in flood waters very much like the CNN sport news advert of Terry Baddoo fully dressed in a suit with a wired microphone in a swimming pool interfering with the swimmers.

Getting in the way

Interfering is the word - the iPod generation - people completely out of the circumstance developing an ambulance-chaser tendency to record a clip of the scene on their rotten mobile phone cameras for onward transmission to some gluttonous news channel with the insatiable lust for viewer ratings.

Nowhere has this "close to the event" madness become more evident than in police car chases which started with the O.J. Simpson , the viewing of Michael Jackson on the way to his acquittal or the return of Paris Hilton to the courthouse.
The O.J. Simpson chase

Last week, they became the tragedy, two helicopters from rival new agencies covering a police car chase on Phoenix, Arizona collided midair with the loss of 4 lives, methinks the excitement of the moment most of gotten the better of reporters and the pilot - such unhealthy rivalry leaves one both sorrowful and entirely unimpressed with an unnecessary pursuit of a non-news matter which had become a reality thriller event.
The helicopter crash

I really am not cut out for edge-of-my-seat news and commentary like a tense football match; it should not be like I am watching a penalty shootout.

As my sympathies go out to the families of the dead, what would be too absurd for expression would be to attribute the death of these journalists to the criminal being chased by the police and bring charges to that effect; his business was with the law and his attempt to escape its long arm, as for the news helicopters chasing after him, they really had no business being there.


2 Who Died in Phoenix News Crash Mourned

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