Like comments on blogs, sometimes the best ‘Letters to the Editor’ are the shortest ones, and I quote one such from today’s Guardian, from Christopher Bell of Chorleywood, Hertfordshire.
‘Thank you for Jonathan Freedland’s moving account of Michael Foot’s funeral. A shame, then, that the news on BBC1 failed to report the occasion. But then they had to find space for two David Beckham reports, plus coverage of Kate Winslet’s separation.’
I had exactly the same thought watching Monday’s main bulletin. Beckham’s injury, its impact on the World Cup and his remarkable career – I buy that as a proper main bulletin story. Kate Winslet’s separation – I’m not so sure.
To be fair to the BBC, and other media outlets, coverage of Michael’s death was extensive and a lot kinder than the treatment he got from most when Labour leader. But like Mr Bell, I was surprised that the nation’s public service broadcaster did not find a single moment’s space to record an event at which a serving Prime Minister and a second former Labour leader spoke eloquently and movingly about their predecessor. Even the right-wing papers, broadsheet and tabloid alike, covered it properly.
In Maya, my novel about fame in the media age, one of my favourite scenes is when her marriage breaks up and the entire story is told through the mouths of journalists on Sky, which drops a planned ‘special report on Robert Mugabe’s finances’ to keep the rolling news of a celebrity marriage break up going.
When I was at Sky to do an interview, one of the producers told me he would love to be able to say my description of the meltdown that occurs when a big celeb story breaks was over the top ‘I’m afraid it was pretty much spot on,’ he said.
So the worrying thing is less that the BBC bulletin editors did not cover Michael’s funeral but that, once the Becks and Kate stories had broken, they probably didn’t even consider it.
Ps. Good piece in the FT today on how Cameron is failing to win the support he needs up North, whilst he and his Party have given up on Scotland. As I keep saying to Fiona and our London-born and bred children, the further North you go, the brighter shine the lights inside.
*** Buy The Blair Years online and raise cash for Labour http://www.alastaircampbell.org/bookshop.php.