Can we stop 24 hour news?

21 March 2014

9:39 AM

21 March 2014

9:39 AM

As there is an intermittent debate over media ethics in this country, might we reflect on the following?

The story of the missing Malaysian plane is an unimaginable nightmare for the relatives of those on the plane. Nobody knows what has happened. And after almost two weeks nobody seems any closer to knowing. Yet thanks to 24-hour news coverage the non-developing story apparently has to go somewhere. The media have nothing to report, yet have to keep making news.


On Wednesday, there were scuffles in Malaysia with some relatives of the missing passengers. A family member was knocked to the floor in the media scrum and the BBC, Sky and everybody else was there to cover it. In the melee of cameras, shifting like a rugby scrum, Kay Burley of Sky – among others – unwittingly demonstrated the fantastical depths to which this has all sunk (see above):

‘I’m running up the escalator now’ Kay Burley told viewers, before helpfully explaining, ‘to try to get to the top.’ Why? ‘So that we can bring you these pictures.’ Of what? Of camera-crews pushing relatives of missing passengers and each other around?

I ask this completely frankly: is there anything we can do to stop this? I know people will say there is a public interest in the story, and some will say that the press are keeping the story alive (as though the relatives of people on the flight might otherwise just forget all about it). But for the rest of us, can we just say that in fact we don’t want this? Yes we want news updates. But what we don’t want is news reporters jostling relatives or hurtling after each other in packs down distant corridors to bring us a non-update on a story which will only actually update itself at some point far beyond the media’s control? I suppose the answer is no, but is there any chance of 24-hour rolling news being rolled back a little?

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Show comments
  • John Lea

    Listen to ‘Trouble Every Day’ by the late Frank Zappa. It’s all there.

  • James Lovelace

    Only idiots watch rolling TV news channels for more than a couple of minutes in any day. Two of the most informed people I know only get their daily news fix from “teletext” or whatever it’s called. They pointed out to me long ago, that beyond the bare facts most other news is gossip or speculation, and therefore to be ignored. Instead, my friends get on with playing in bands, learning foreign languages, and reading and writing books. And they still manage to make the average news addict look woefully uninformed.

  • NickG

    I’m doing my bit by NOT watching this sort of nonsense.

    Getting one’s news from TV is a really inefficient and lazy way of doing so.

    • Marie Louise Noonan

      Do you go straight to source then?

  • Darnell Jackson

    Quite correct Douglas.

    The news should bring news, not endless speculation and opinion.

  • Kasperlos

    It’s like the person complaining they’re too fat. Stop eating! Hello! Turn off the idiot box called television. Now! Just do it! Uh, I really hate this word, but ’empower’ yourself already. Take control of the remote control. Read the news via the internet, including alternative news sources. News today is reflectes the one-size-fits-all t-shirt of nothingness: bland globalisation; it’s a mediocre and banal product served up by bad actor blowhard losers spouting life’s viccissitudes via vulgar voices and visuals. The worst is being captive in an aeroport terminal with CNN or Fox or Sky blaring incessantly. Escape comes only at boarding, but then it appears on your IFE! At 35,000 feet! Televisions are everywhere in public spaces, including hospitals, fix-tuned to one of the 24 hour channels. What’s more horrific: waiting to be wheeled into surgery for a brain tumour or having to listen to CNN. Which came first, the tumour or Sky? Now that’s the question to ponder whilst they look for MH370. Perhaps only after one departs this world will we escape the news cycle. But what’s with that HNN cable channel in America? Heaven News Network? Oh dear. We’re doomed!

  • Swanky


  • gerontius

    “Can we stop 24 hour news?”

    Sadly no – but you can ignore it.
    I go down the allotment with a flask of gin martini – my solution to a lot of things

    • Swanky

      I prefer Rondel Cava (or Champers, I’m not fussy), and then a bit of Tempranillo or whatever else I find in the wine room — but otherwise, sympatico a toto.

      • gerontius

        But presumably you have to keep one eye open all the time – in case one of those crocodile things creeps up on your:Worse than men probably and they ain’t after your champers thats for sure.

        • Swanky

          Ha ha. Recently sightings have just been a raccoon, a squirrel that got in the lanai, and a baby snake with an orange band behind its head and a matching orange underside that I had to rescue. The pool net on a pole is intended to skim the pool but I find that I mostly use it like a ringmaster.

      • gerontius

        Clarissa Dickson Wright has just died, which is a shame. Prompted me to dig out a book from my cookery section by WMW Fowler: Countryman’s Cooking. He was a sort of male equivalent to Dickson Wright. A great read. I came across an interview with his widow some years ago. She wasn’t complimentary about him really, just saying “He liked women and unfortunately they liked him” I wouldn’t mind that on my own headstone.

        • Swanky

          Yes, I had a look: it’s a different world, I think. I don’t quite have pangs about breaking a cracker in two but I’ve been edging in that direction. The sort of recipe requiring ‘one calf’s head’ etc. is a curiosity for me but I’ll leave it to the past. As for the widow’s epitaph: quite possibly there’s a world of pain in that apparently dispassionate comment!

          • gerontius

            It all seemed a bit more innocent than that to me. Ah well.
            Ps. What does “breaking a cracker” mean?

            • Swanky

              Perhaps it’s because I’m personally aware of how much understatement understates. Infidelity even of the unconsummated kind can be terribly painful (not that I’ve experienced it myself).

              What I meant is that I don’t do harm by breaking a cracker in half to eat it, but breaking an animal to eat does matter to me.

  • tjamesjones

    Good point.

  • Mark Frost

    The incessant ‘updates’ brought to us by the likes of the BBC and Sky are completely unnecessary and quite frankly, a waste of time. Manufacturing and moulding speculation and offering it to an audience as ‘News’ has to stop. Is there any need for rolling 24 hour news? Perhaps, depending on the interest one takes in current affairs. But given the technology and other media sources readily available to consumers throughout the world, rolling TV news updates prove to be pretty fruitless.

  • Kitty MLB

    Is 24hr news on a loop? the continuous repeating from bored looking newsreaders
    who unsuccessfully try and make it appear like ” new” news, they have to be very inventive. We know with the BBC we shall get bias dogma popped down our throats
    constantly and with SKY we shall get forensic details of the latest mind numbing
    American Trial, such as the Michael Jackson one last year and that poor girl
    murdered by that Knox woman.
    It doesn’t improve politics either, Politicians have become image and media obsessed because of this, and can become lazy and misrepresented.
    So please, reduce it, its not necessary, people have lives and are not obsessed
    with the somewhat repressive and depressing news- people tend to watch it once a day and will ignore it unless something drastic happens.

  • D Whiggery

    “I ask this completely frankly: is there anything we can do to stop this?”

    Everyone needs to stop watching news channels.

    The French news channels have quite a good system though. They record a half hour news segment in the morning and leave on a loop for most of the morning and early afternoon, then they update it for the late afternoon and evening and do the same thing. Except for breaking news of earth shattering events, that’s it. People have the convenience of watching that day’s news when they want without the impetus on news channels to create news from nothing.

    Why is it they do this? Well because they realize that most people watch the news once or twice (max) a day, usually at the same time, are loyal to their favorite channel, but switch over to other stuff after half an hour.

    Constantly seeking new angles does not improve viewing figures but the format of the coverage does.

    • Alexsandr

      they should stop shipping journos to places so they can stand somewhere to give the latest. You see them standing outside darkened offices in the rain. what will they find out there outside office hours. NOTHING.
      The best one was when they were standing outside some lab in the south of England at 6am awaiting a dead bird being shipped there for bird flu tests. It wasn’t expected till lunchtime and I bet no-one would turn up till 08:30. So what were they possibly adding to the story? NOTHING.
      BBC should stop trying to fill every hour of each day, and have 15 minute pieces to show say between half past and quarter to. Then they probably wont need to anchors all the time saving money.

  • Bluesman_1

    “is there any chance of 24-hour rolling news being rolled back a little?”


    Of course, it is not 24 hour rolling news it is 15 minute rolling news broadcast continuously.