Chez Topsyturvydom, our Sunday morning news source tends to be Radio 5 Live, on the basis that Radio 4 is god-bothering until 9.00 a.m. Today’s top story was about the discovery of a car-bomb in Times Square, New York. Part of the report featured an admirably factual and concise statement from the NYPD police chief, who explained the circumstances of the car’s discovery, what exactly had been found in the car, what the police bomb disposal team had done, and that, as yet, they had no information on who might have planted the device. Job done, you might think. Time to move on to the next item. But no, we instead were taken live to New York where a British man who had been in Times Square at the time was waiting to be interviewed. What could he add to what we already knew? Well, er, nothing. He had been on his way to the theatre when a lot of police had appeared and cordoned off the square. He had been instructed to get out of the way quickly. He had heard that someone had been told by a police officer to run. “So, you’re saying the police told people to run away?” Well, that’s what he had heard, he said. Not him personally. It must have been scary, the interviewer prompted. Well, no, actually: in fact the theatres carried on, after a delay. Finally, the classic fatuous question – how did he feel?
He felt OK. People seemed to take it in their stride. End of interview.
So what was the point of this? Presumably to get the “human angle”. It’s another indication of the relentless tabloidisation of the BBC. Instead of being content to report the news authoritatively, we have to suffer the vacuous follow-up, itself longer than the original item, which reveals precisely nothing about the incident, because the interviewee knows nothing.
Going Live… by Dr Rob Spence is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.