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Sunday, July 08, 2007

Why I am giving up television - well almost

I have a TV appetite that Homer Simpson would at times admire. However, I think I am going to give up or at least cut down to a minimum.

Some time ago I wrote about whether the media in the UK is watering down content under increasing pressure for readers and ratings.

I mentioned that the Daily Mirror used to be a very fine, before my time, publication. One in which individuals of some academic and political calibre commented in. Whether you support them or not, politicians such as Tony Benn can be engaging and the paper was at times "fighting the good fight" helped expose the atrocities in Cambodia. (I note it was decidedly dodgy during the rise of fascism).

The Mirror, under Piers Morgan, has lost its way and is just another gossip and scandal sheet, which is a little angry occasionally, shouts a bit and thinks that hits the mark. Classics over the Piers tenure include:
  • Spice Girls making the lead story because they had been sponsored by Pepsi (slow news day hey?)
  • Achtung Surrender predicting the capitulation of the Germany team in the Euros semis against England - mmmm
  • And the who cares journalism prize for photographing Earl Spencer's wife coming out of a rehab clinic- it also broke the Editor's code of conduct-double whammy
  • Printing pictures, which the Mirror acknowledged were hoaxes of British soldiers abusing Iraqis, which led to Piers trying to hang on before he was sacked

Where is Piers Morgan now? A high profile celebrity playing up a hack image.

Do not get me wrong the journalists I work with are hard working, conscientious and straight forward to work with. I cannot recall a major disagreement or even a minor one. Some of them are under considerable and increasing pressure to produce and you have to admire that.

The low came though when Davina McCall got on Question Time.

Now I have seen Lorraine Kelly on a current affairs program and she is sharp. She might talk about what's in and not for summer on breakfast TV, but when she has free reign she is quite a force, very well informed and has a suffer no fools approach.

Davina McCall offered no surprises. Vacuous and her ability to back up one particular argument by stating that she did not know the evidence her opponent was referring to and so it was effectively void was incredible. When has ignorance of a subject been a starting point for arguing your case?

I think if Davina was confined to Channel 4 only I could cope. But she has been let out to bring her level of "I am loud, therefore I am" or "I am loud, therefore I am right"and it is too much.

Think about what she hosts.

Big Brother was a social experiment once upon a time ago, now it is a passport to fame. When Big Brother gets watered down you know that you have to switch media: I love you papers (except the Mirror), I love you magazines, I love you radio, I love you Internet.

There are some good things on TV, but I cannot take the chance of some TV exec thinking she is cool and inflicting her on me again without a clear warning before that "this program might contain images and sound bites of a moronic nature."


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