Monday, August 2, 2010

Does Today have a Tomorrow?

The Today Programme has really hit a new low - today! It has been noticeable that the quality of news reporting on radio has declined in recent years. The World Service is a poor refection of its former self, but the Today programme, that supposed flagship of Radio 4, has really gone downhill. Some of the decline is down to decisions made at a corporation level - notably the production of news items for consumption on both TV and Radio. The result being the appearance of news items on Radio that are actually produced primarily for TV and so we are subjected to stories where sections are filled with disembodied and disjointed sounds that, when seen with the accompanying pictures on TV, make some sense, but when played without commentary on Radio are just, well junk. But the editorial decision of the Today editors are as much to blame. On a regular basis we have to listen to extended advertorial for other BBC programmes masquerading as news. So, this morning we have, as usual on a Monday, to listen to an extended piece about tonight's Panorama. Now don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with the Panorama programme per se (although it has to be said that Panorama has been systematically dumbed down over the past 10 years) but the fact is that its content is not news, it is self declared news. To compound this in a prime slot post 8am we have to suffer a piece about the rise of Stand Up Comedy. Once again lets be clear I have nothing against Stand Up comedy - I am a big fan - but it is hardly news! And to add insult to injury we are told this is the first of a three part series on Comedy. Three parts!!!!

This concerns me for lots of reasons, not least that it seems to indicate that Radio 4 believe our appetite for news - and I mean real news - and analysis - and I mean proper analysis - is in decline. "The audience cant take it" seems to be their view because, trust me there is plenty of news and analysis out there to be covered if they chose to do it. Instead they seem to believe that we want some parochial magazine show. So Today is declining into a flabby self satisfied and safe magazine programme - no doubt with sofa type sound effects soon.

What is particularity worrying for me is that it seems more and more like the USA where the absence of good news programming amongst a plethora of channels is staggering. One of the consequences of this is a population very poorly in formed about what is happening outside of the borders of their own country. But perhaps that is it. Radio 4 has become obsessed with the USA - we even had to sacrifice Go4it to the truly risible Americana. So maybe that is the plan – BBC may turn into FOX News – oh heaven help us!
I will go back to Tunbridge Wells now.