Oh how intensely the Beeb’s chatterati and Kremlinologists will be studying today’s coverage of their letter calling on colleagues not to strike next week.
I’m not saying you have to have an enormous ego to be one of the Beeb ‘big hitters’ but it helps. So who do The Guardian deem to be the most newsworthy big hitters of 35 names on the letter? Step forward Huw Edwards, Jeremy Paxman, Martha Kearney and Nick Robinson as the four named in the Guardian’s intro on page 3.
Knowing them as I do, I would score them at 3, 4, 3, and 7 on the egometer, an entirely subjective AC device that assesses how much I think they like the viewer to be thinking about them rather than the issues and people they are reporting. (3 is healthy, 7 is not)
Alongside pictures of said four are those of Emily Maitlis (5, and the sexy clothes don’t help), Reeta Chakrabarti and Carolyn Quinn (3 each) and Michael Crick (joint leader with Robinson on 7). Interesting that the women score less than the men.
The Guardian publishes the letter in full and then adds a longer list of signatories at the bottom of the page. I fear this means this particular paper sees those in the longer list as second league. I think Jim Naughtie and Jon Sopel will be a little miffed not to have been at least in the top 8 – I suspect The Guardian was doing a bit of positive discrimination (aka a cry from what used to be called the backbench for nice pictures of women for the top of the page please). Peter Allen is also quite a hitter but radio faces are a harder shout for picture editors. Ditto John Pienaar who is more radio than telly these days. Radio in general tends to lower the ratings on the egometer, though John Humphrys drives up the average somewhat. His name appears to be absent.
But what are we to feel for people described only as ’21 other signatories’. Mon coeur saigne, as the Paris correspondents might say. The ’21 others’ will be feeling jolly low today.
The celebritisation of TV news presenters and reporters has been quite an important part of the development of the soap-operization of politics. Most broadcast coverage of politics now is anchor talking to colleague with a few ‘respected’ (by whom I wonder) colleagues from the newspapers thrown in, and every now and then a politician might get a word in, followed by NR7 or MC7 telling you what it all means in their (not so) humble opinion.
With the Labour conference still going on yesterday, I would have imagined The Guardian’s ‘news’ coverage might have got beyond a piece about whether ‘middle England’ was able to tolerate Ed Miliband’s unmarried status and his atheism. I was asked to contribute to this yesterday and said no on the grounds it was just more soap-operization. But little did I expect it to drive out all else going on in Labour ranks (oh, apart from what we call JFOJ – junk food of journalism – aka an opinion poll.)
In their letter, the ‘BBC stars’ and the ’21 other signatories’ say it will appear unduly partisan if the strike hits coverage of the Tory conference alone. Given how up the coalition’s bum they are most of the time, partly because of Corporation fears about the license fee, and whether the Tories will deliver on some of the demands made by the Murdoch Empire, this is not something that ought unduly to concern them. For those writing the letter, I suspect the real fear is less about accusations of partisanship, and more about losing one of THE big weeks in the ‘stars’ calendar.
As for the Tories, if I were them, I would be finding out whether the Beeb, if the strike goes ahead, can’t just get the Parliament channel coverage (uninterrupted, without incessant interventions from ‘stars’, sometimes telling you what is being said even as it is being said, while the person saying it is talked over, and then giving their ((unwanted by all but the anchor))opinions,) switched to Beeb 1 or 2. It’d be like the old days, when there was less space but more coverage, fewer channels but more debate, and viewers could find out what was happening for themselves, rather than be treated by those who think they know better as having the attention span of a gnat.
Viva Parliamenta Channel. All they’ll need is a few freelance camera and sound engineers.
Cameron Direct – finally, it can happen.