Saturday, 18 April 2009

Happy now, Douglas?

23 years ago this week, TV Times published the following letter from Douglas McNeill of Reading:

"I find the national news, which concentrates on a few main items, much less interesting than the local news (TVS, in my case) which packs many items into a few minutes.  Isn't it more interesting to be informed and entertained by more topics, presented in a punchier manner.  I know what I'd choose ..."

He's got what he wished for.  British television news today, and especially that on ITV, seems to have inherited its bright and empty superficiality at least in part from 1980s regional bulletins, not to mention its ever-increasing parochialism, merely cast in terms of the UK, one other country and both countries' de facto colonies, past and present (which is, in some crucial ways, less progressive than true regional broadcasting within the UK).  Even John Craven's Newsround (another major influence on Nu-News) sometimes showed more interest in European affairs.

I would be interested to know whether Douglas McNeill of Reading, if he is still alive, thinks news has dumbed down today.  My only reason for slight doubts on these matters is the near-certain knowledge that the teenage Charlie Brooker of 1986 would have been every bit as opposed to Alastair Burnet as he now is to the tendencies he rightly attacks each week in Newswipe.  I wonder if he regrets that today?

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