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.
oh wow, really? Does he still have a job do you think? I really hope not. What a douchebag
Heather: he's still there. Worst thing is - I don't think anybody else even noticed or cared. Maybe I'm just over-senstive?
I think what I find even worse is the fake sympathy that has to be part of any distressing news item.
But as you say; TV news is a misnomer. It now is just another part of the entertainment business. Mustn't leave the punters feeling sad or thoughtful
It was also a shit joke- not really worth it, if you ask me.
What makes you think he paid attention to the news he was reading? Their job is to read, not listen.
Barry: it would be nice if the newsreaders themselves were thoughtful...
Missy M: I've never ever heard a good joke from a newsreader. And when it has been a good joke they've fucked up the delivery.
Gorilla Bananas: exactly. Read the news. Not deliver off the cuff quips.
I agree with you.
It seems that to be seen as 'serious' is uncool these days and the media pander to the 'school of the clever quip'.
Yes, there is a place for banter.
But not everywhere.
Next we'll be expecting witty banter from the cicar at a funeral.
AWB: though a funeral is the one place it would be appropriate for a comedian to "corpse it". Sorry. I think I may have just turned into a newsreader.
That's just awful.
Suzanne: it did leave a spectacularly bad taste in the mouth.
How horrible....and why do we have to have newsreaders in pairs anyway? double the salary, double laptops, double 'power dressing' etc.,......and all to read out loud.....
Libby: this is why I blame breakfast telly - we're stuck with the idea of a cosy male / female couple as being a televisual ideal. Generally they're not. I specifically blame Anne Diamond and Nick Owen. For a lot of things.
I'm rather enjoying Moira Stewart on Radio 2, much more professional. (good grief I sound old)
Oh Lordy, I've spent years working with 'the news' and 'newsmakers' and I know this type of bollocks goes on. I still think the banality of it all was summed up brilliantly in Broadcast News. Although it is an 'old' movie now it does talk about the plastic bs that passes as news. oh and if you ever come across a copy of 'Anyone Here Been Raped and Speaks English' grab it, it really is brilliant. The most soul-destroying expose of newsgathering and reporting ever, written by correspondent Ed Behr.
I've been fuming about this for ages. I HATE them making jokes and trying to be funny. Read the news and shut up!
Well said. But it isn't just breakfast TV is it(though it might take a big slice of the blame) - most TV is crap really.
As Barry Coidan said, there is no *real* news anymore, it's fodder about celebs. Common sense, common decency, respect, they've all fallen by the wayside....oh God, I sound like my Grandad. ;)
Kelloggsville: but maybe Moira exorcised her comedic leanings by appearing in Extras as a coke pusher...?
Vix: certainly, er, sounds like a book for the old Christmas wishlist...! ;-)
Fran: or just get a bingo caller to do it for them. Or a monkey that can read. Or a robot. I'm not fussy.
Mark: I've nothing smart to say other than you're right.
MissBehaving: well, your granddad sounds like he might just become my best mate.
Anytime there is more than one of them, they seem to have to enter into this witty banter and it's just cringe-worthy. There are so many examples of it that I have seen on US news (and I don't even watch US news but seen plenty of clips). Just awful. They must do it here in Aust too but I watch SBS (world news) and I've not seen it on there - one big reason is the fake smiles on other networks as they throw to each other and make light about the weather, no matter what accident/fire/murder story has just been finished.
I agree with you, the nightly news is one place we don't need to have turned into a joke. It's just disrespectful and really out of place. Or am I just too serious??
Being Me: seriously good and seriously on the money, in my book. Half the time the smiles are so fake I often think the presenters must really hate each other. And why is it the men who alwayss feel the need to make the cheesy jokes all the time? The women presenters look as tired of them as I feel. The men are just borish, grey, processed pea loving dullards... I think I'll get my news from the Teletext service from now on!
نعم تلك سخي!!! **** كارهين شعر الصدر الكافر!******. انها اهانة الله. انهم جميعا سخيف * * * * * فقط يتغوط scumbag *. لي ولأخوتي * ستعمل سخيف سخيف * فتواهم ********!عذرا تقويم بيضاء صغيرة. كارهين شعر الصدر *!!****. نحن ستعمل * سخيف البحث حيث * سخيف شنق!****** الرجل. ونحن ستعمل على شق **** رجل !!سخيف الحناجر الماعز.
هذا بلوق هو سخيف! * * * * * جيدة القرف !!!******** رجل. أنا ستعمل!!!! **** سخيف **** الحصول على كل اخواني في صلاة العشاء لمتابعة هذا الرجل بلوق. نحن ستعمل جعل***** 'بلوق الله من ملاحظة' كنت في جميع !******الإسلام. !!رجل شيت -- أنت ستكون الشهيرة. سيكون لديك
!!!!!********* *****الكثير من سخيف الماعز.
Sorry my English words is big shit here. I mean not offence. Only respect. Have nice day.
Phil: your backwards forwards cross-cultural writing really hurt my eyeballs. Now I need it in braille.
I worked in a BBC newsroom for a while. Everything stopped at 4pm for Countdown. Says it all really!
Wylye Girl: ah... the unending allure of Carol Vorderman. I'll take 2 from the top and 1 from the bottom, please Carol. See. I could have been an anchorman.
Grrrr. Even Jeremy Paxman can't resist a joke.
And have you noticed that even the BBC seem to have resorted to film reviews now. Why is so much of the news filled with stuff that ISN'T NEWS !!! Jordan and Alex divorce - NOT NEWS. Footballers sleep around - NOT NEWS. Susan Boyle sings something - NOT NEWS.
Have you noticed how ITV news even 'reports' on the latest X factor stuff. Brand loyalty that.
They should have two programmes, proper news and not news... oh they do. It's called half the rest of the schedule.
Keith: absolutely - and this same accusation can be levelled at the newspapers that people pay for every day, that use up vast resources every week, and just pushes material out into the world that is mostly not news! I don't care about Kerry Katona or Jordan or Lady Ga-Ga or which footballer is shagging which other footballer's wife...! Just give me news and give it to me straight, unpolluted by pantomime gags and Embarrassing Uncle commentary.
I think half the news is a joke. The media spent that long on doom, gloom and pissing everyone off with the economy and politics, that they really do think these cheap and distasteful gags are warranted. Imagine hoe hard it must have been to reel something off that wasn't on the auto cue. Bet his excitement made Mrs Anchorman feel a right prick.
CJ: I wonder why media people think the public have to be treated like kids? Send them away with a smile on their face... lace the real news with some trite fun to make everyone feel better... do they think we'd riot if we had nothing but bad news all the time?
Have you done a google translate on Phil's comment...well worth it?!!
On the other hand, I'm in agreement, and I can't help but notice they always smile no matter how grim the news.....
Nota Bene: doh! Didn't think to do that...
As for the newsreader's crocodile smile... you'd almost think they were enjoying themselves...
Most of the time at best the banter comes across as fake, forced, feeble and at worst scripted. The mainstream news has become part of the entertainment canvass, arcing between sensationalism, selective reporting and celebrity obsession. Dumbing down of the news is it would appear big business in this land. Shame really.
The example you refer to at the end your piece shows the robotic nature of many newscasters. It beggars belief when you see how much these people get paid for simply reading from an autocue.
Channel Four news however, remains for me, the only serious news programme on Blighty's telly.
We are on the way to the dogs...
Perhaps they have to spout out so much horror day in and day out that they become totally immune and oblivious to it, clerics raping children is hardly a blip on their radar screen. You have to wonder what it would take to really get their attention. Maybe a story about children raping clerics ?
Löst Jimmy: well said that man. What shocked me was the fact this fine example of endemic crassness was on the BBC News24 channel. The BBC for God's sake. I thought the Beeb had standards. But maybe you're right? 24 hours news must totally densensitize and dull the synapses. That's still no excuse though. Even an idiot can spot a crap joke.
Owen: or murdering newsmen for doing a shit job? I'd like to see them read that out and crack a careless joke afterwards...
I must say I never watch the news, I prefer to read it on the internet.
Good comment by Phil!
Very Bored in Catalunya: we've just started watching the news again after a solid diet of CBeebies for 3 years. I preferred the jokes on CBeebies.
The news is *supposed* to be depressing dammit! I do wish they'd stop with the jokes, inappropriate and otherwise
Livi: telling gags on the news is like sprinkling shit with gold stars.
I hear you! It's going to get worse now with the run up to comic relief and no doubt they'll do some ridiculous song and dance act on the night as well to show us just how entertaining they really are. It's all so desperate ......
Selina: I'm sure the application of a red nose will salve and protect our minds from the multiple rapes, murders, burglaries and acts of terrorism that plague our great nation...
Jeez, you're right...our breakfast TV (lucky we only have ONE CHANNEL that does that, you should move here) has just changed hosts and they're pretty bad but I'm not sure how bad because we might have just got used to the old ones....(one of whom got sacked due to the fact he was a rascist, mysogenistic twat)
Amanda: being a rascist, mysogenistic twat seems to be the main prerequisite for being involved in the news industry these days.
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