Monday, 9 March 2009

If you want something doing, do it yourself

My allotted two weeks up, I still don't understand how someone that spends 18 hours a day sleeping can so effectively stop you doing anything other than look after him. But he does, so I've not kept quite as ruthlessly up-to-date with the news as I used to like.

It's been great. Major news items break through - terrorists attacks, quantitative easing, Jade Goody's wedding - but I lose the comment, analysis, rebuttal, insight, viewer's comments, punditry and other crud that usually clings to these nuggets. And somehow, I don't feel I'm missing out. Hopi, for example, is left to write not one but two posts bemoaning the vapidity and predictability of the media coverage of the Brown/Obama summit, but remains none the wiser regarding what might actually come out of it. I am equally ignorant, but haven't had to wade through regurgitated dribble either.

But I did, quite by chance, catch a brief segment of the Politics Show yesterday that happened to be both informative, interesting and relevant to my current circumstances. You can see it here, at least for the next 7 days. At 18:32, a panel of three women get to interview Harriet Harman. They grill her on the governments achievements in improving equality on the workplace, bring up specific policy proposals they would like to see enacted and hold her to account on her performance. Clearly, they know the subject matter inside out. In turn, Harman responds substantively, with a minimum of "yeah but the other lot suck".

At times, however, the professional journalist jumps in to perform the vital media role of holding the government to account:. "Shouldn't you be ashamed?", "Isn't this embarrassing?" "Couldn't you have phrased that better?". These are the sort of hard-hitting questions that make journalists look good. They don't, astonishingly enough, elucidate any useful information. . The end of the interviewis a masterclass in turning the viewer off politics and politicians: "We've got very little time and I must ask you about Fred Goodwin." Why, in the name of Christ? Why not shut up and let the interesting conversation continue? "Do you stand by what you said? Will you retract it? Will you admit you were wrong to suggest that? Will you give me a headline? Will you? I don't want your opinion, woman, I want to make you look bad. Give me a retraction, an apology, a regret, anything I can use to spin this non-event out further." (My transcription may not be entirely accurate.)

If you take the ten minutes to watch it, I'm prepared to bet that the bits you find interesting co-incide almost exactly with the periods that the professional interviewer is a mere spectator.

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