I know there is a longstanding tradition in broadcast news that you always round off your headlines with a light hearted story or joke. It’s the spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine go down. Yes, there might be armed blaggers shooting holes in the diaphragms in the local chemists as they make a grab for the methadone but Bertie Entwhistle from 2 doors up has spent the last 3 weeks with his genitals dunked in cold baked beans to raise money for disadvantaged ASBO hoodies so they can go pony trekking in the Brecon Beacons, ho ho ho, it’s a wonderful life really.
If you live in Bedford Falls.
I accept this. I find it tiresome sometimes but I accept it. It’s a tradition.
What I don’t accept is the slow metamorphosis that has been occurring over the last few decades (it all started with breakfast television, I’m sure) whereby our newsreaders – invariably the male – think they are really stand-up comedians who just happen to read the news.
We now get banter in between the major news items. Banter between Mr Stiff-In-A-Shirt-News-Reader and Miss-It-Was-Acceptable-In-The-Eighties-To-Power-Dress-Like-This-News-Reader:
Talking of the war on terror, my dog has no nose. Oh really – how does he smell? Like your cheap and nasty newsroom perfume.
Oh how we chortle.
But one day this week it got too much. It got callous and insensitive. Worse, it made me question just what the hell we as a race of human beings are turning into.
Mr Slick Anchorman rounded his day’s run on News24 with the following paraphrased words: “and to round up our major news story for the night a Muslim cleric in Sheffield has been found guilty of raping 2 young boys. [Pause and then turn to Miss Plastic Anchorwoman.] You know I find going to a petrol station these days really emotional. Yeah, I don’t know what it is I just can’t help filling up...”
Boom-boom-tish. Cue titles.
Did I miss something? Something important? Like a respectful pause between this horrific news item and this inordinately lame and unwarranted piece of comedy shit?
I mean, the guy barely took a breath between the two items or even changed the tone of his voice. I swear to God he was just in a rush to get his gag into the show before his shift ended and the new Mr Cocoa-The-Comedy-Newsman jumped into his throbbing news seat.
No! No! I’ve had this gag lined up all day and I’m going to get it in there no matter how irrelevant and painfully offensive it might be to all victims of child abuse, all children, all parents and basically everyone with an ounce of sensitivity and decency. We’ve got to go out on a high, Goddammit! It’s a tradition! I’m dancing dressed as a kipper for Comic Relief next week! This is show business, people!
Yeah. ‘Cos it sure as hell wasn’t the news.