news and clichés

Reading the ‘newspaper’ on Tuesday – the 20p Independent i – I got the impression that the concept of news must have changed considerably since I used to read the UK press on a regular basis. There was no text other than ‘headlines’ on the front page, and inside it seemed all to be gossip, sport or opinion. Even what I think was intended as an editorial struck me as no more weighty than a teenager’s blog entry.

Last night, I watched the BBC news on television instead. Sadly it was no better.

Well, perhaps there was slightly more in the way of news, but the sheer ignorance of the reporting and commentary had me screaming impotently at the TV set.

There was news about the financial difficulties of the old people’s homes company, Southern Cross. Maybe not of world-shattering importance, but certainly more newsworthy than stories of celebrity hatches, matches, splits and patches.

We are so used to hearing hackneyed phrases strung together to give the semblance of reporting that I wonder how many other viewers noticed the elderly chap who claimed that many of the people in the homes were war veterans who had “given their lives” for their country. He was clearly carried away by the cliché rather than interested in the meaning of what he said, and I got quite distracted from the news by the inanity of the image.

His phrase was, perhaps, forgivable, since he was supposed to be a member of the public speaking off-the-cuff. Shortly afterwards, though, I was stunned by the insensitivity of the reporting of the story of the young Welsh couple who were killed on their honeymoon in Antigua three years ago.

The alleged aggressors are up for trial, which is why the story is back in the news. The report opened with a phrase along the lines of “The honeymoon on this island paradise was meant to be something they’d remember for the rest of their lives […]”. It seems a remarkably thoughtless phrase and one which would, I hope, have been picked up on by a sub-editor if the text had been intended for print.

Perhaps the phrase that most annoyed me, though, was said by David Bernstein, chairman of the Football Association, in his speech making a case for not holding an election for FIFA president where Blatter would be the only candidate.

Since it wasn’t a breaking story, I assume the speech was written in advance, which would have led me to expect better than the argument:

A coronation without an opposition provides a false mandate.

If that were only true, we might hope to see Charles and William standing against each other at the next coronation. Perhaps even with an outsider who might hope to get the ‘republican’ vote.

Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

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