Curmudgeon’s Corner

Curmudgeon’s Corner

A series of self-indulgent rants about things that annoy me!

Don’t take them too seriously.




News Broadcasts

Television news broadcasts are becoming increasingly annoying to watch. Why do I think this? Read on!

Why, in a 30 minutes news broadcast, is it necessary to present viewers with a reminder of the headlines two or three times? Are viewers suffering collective short-term memory loss or is this waste of time targeted at those too moronic to read a timepiece in order to catch the beginning of the news broadcast?

Why do news-readers, apparently comfortable in their news-readers’ chairs behind a shiny plastic desk, suddenly appear after a few news items standing on a sort of fashion runway to cover a few stories, after which they retreat to their chairs? Does this reflerct the significance of the news story or are they just avoiding cramp? And why just stand? Why not deliver the news lying down, or standing on one’s head, or in the lotus position or from horseback?

Why do those reporters feel it is necessary to include interviews with ‘the person in the street’? The totally spurious reason usually advanced is that this helps to ensure ‘balance’ in a story, so that views expressed tend to be opposing ones (although these are rarely very perceptive and are frequently mind-numbingly stupid). This rationale is, of course, nonsense. “Balance” is not preserved by presenting two opinions – X and not-X. If the news service wants to commission a valid opinion poll on the topic and then present a set of ‘on the street’ interviews with a representative sample of all viewpoints, this might be acceptable. But choosing a couple of people with opposing positions, usually incoherently stated, from a non-random sample of shoppers outside Sainsbury’s possesses no information content, is not evidential and is, therefore, not news.

Why do reporters feel that it is necessary to ask those involved in news stories (often tragic ones) how events ‘made them feel’? Things that happen to people are news. How people feel about things that happen to them is not news, unless, again, you wish to commission an opinion poll on those feelings so that the positions expressed have some statistical significance and are not just random, emotive babble.

A scenario…

* Reporter: “Councillor Smith, why is Birmingham Council proposing to cancel waste recycling collections for unwanted banjos?”

* Councillor Smith: “So, too many people are disposing of both their own and other people’s banjos, and the Council can no longer justify the expense of sanitising and recycling them.”

What is the grammatical significance of Councillor Smith’s ‘So…’? ‘So…!!!!’ Why, over the past couple of years have people answering questions put to them felt is necessary to precede their answers with this pointless non-functional conjunction. One suggestion from the net: ‘The first word of any answer given by a know-it-all douchebag, said to give the effect that they were already speaking when you asked your question or requested their opinion, in order to feign superiority or to imply that they knew what you wanted to know before you inquired’ ( As we used to say, “Right on!”

Updated: 14/10/2018