Like many people, I stopped watching the news on television. Not because I was getting it off TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, but initially because if I saw one more scientist standing at a podium next to the Prime Minister, I was likely to scream and race from the room. And later, because I came to realise that TV news wasn’t news anyway. It was prediction, with a bit of walking about.
This became very evident with the advent of a new Prime Minister. Up to the moment when the results were in, there was a great deal of discussion on the “news” about how many votes she might win by (if she won at all), and what she might then do; there was conjecture about who would be in her Cabinet, what their jobs might be and what people might think.
What people might think is a big issue, apparently. Every now and then, a TV news reporter will wander off to somewhere remote, like Salford, and find someone who thinks that chaos is looming, either from Tory policies, energy bills, climate change or inflation. They never seem to find anyone who has a life remotely like mine, but I guess that’s my fault.
And it’s not news! We have a largish, overpopulated country. Surely something is happening somewhere that would be of interest. Trends and statistics are not news, because they can be easily twisted. What actually happens is news.
Eventually Liz Truss reveals who is in her Cabinet: we want to know who they are, and a bit about them. But what we get is acres of meaningless conjecture about how they might work together and what policies they might pursue. Never mind that in a few hours we will be told all that.
“And now let’s go back to our top story.” Which will be a newsreader standing outside Buckingham Palace, or Downing Street, or somewhere else where they don’t need to be, offering conjecture about what might happen in a few minutes time.
And then there’s the weather forecast. That’s often wrong too.
** It’s ironic that as I finished writing this, the Queen’s death was announced, and real news took over. If I said that it was tremendously sad, and her faith and service would be sorely missed, I would simply be saying what everyone else has said. Nevertheless, I say it. She took the throne when I was seven, and so I remember no other monarch. She was a truly amazing woman. The next few days are going to seem extremely odd.