Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Don't Worry, Mr Torrance. There's Nothing To It.

Scotland's favourite political commentator and woolly tank top enthusiast, David Torrance, recently caused a bit of froth on Twitter after voicing his astonishing objections to a Scottish Six. I won't bore you with the whole story which you're probably sick of hearing about (if you're in blissful ignorance and dying to know more a quick Google search should help out). But the gist was he didn't think BBC Scotland could match the stellar quality of London's international news coverage.

He might have a point if it weren't for the fact TV News is about the easiest scam to pull off these days. It might look slick and hi-tec with those glass fronted news rooms a hub of feverish activity but the truth is the news hounds are more likely to be trawling social media for bits of gossip. The BBC doesn't actually have any correspondents any more. Any fool can stand outside a building clutching a mike and reading from a cue card.  And who wants to waste time and effort on investigative journalism when you can get away with parroting press releases?

The Scottish Six would only be an hour long programme, a piece of cake in journalistic terms. Remember, this is the same broadcaster who effortlessly fills its rolling news channel, so one hour is hardly likely to be a challenge. (Rolling news is an art in itself,  as seen here.)

So it would seem poor David's getting his wooly tank top in a twist for nothing.

But there is always the possibility that the dopes at BBC Scotland didn't get the memo about how to churn out an hour's worth of BS, so here are some helpful tips to keep them straight:

To make TV news you will need:

1. A brightly lit set with brashly coloured backdrop.

2. Pompous urgent theme music to emphasise something of Earth shattering importance is going on.

3. An anchor, or preferably two; one male one female.  This allows the mandatory banter between them and stops the audience getting bored with the same face all the time. Distraction from the meagre content is paramount, so it helps if the female is hot. That way at least half the audience could doze through the entire show in a sexual fantasy.

4. At least one Correspondent. You can have as many or few of these as you like, but too few might look a bit cheap. They don't need any specialist knowledge beyond the ability to talk intelligently.

Now to the actual news.

In the Old Days a crusty old bloke in a worn jacket read dusty copy from a page of text. This is no use today because it only fills a maximum of ten minutes. Some creative filling is called for.

1 Anchor reads the headline in melodramatic fashion, backed by loud strains of music. This sums up the news item. After the music stops the other anchor repeats it with a bit more detail. In fact, this is all the news they have
But they can't just leave it at that.

2. Cut to the correspondent, apparently 'on the scene'.  He says pretty much the same thing using a few different words so it's not too obvious. For more dramatic effect he/she may interview a 'witness' or someone closely connected to events. The witness doesn't know any more information but can speculate endlessly to fill in time.

3. Back in the studio the Anchor sums it all up again. If there's still time to fill he/she may turn to an Expert for more pointless speculation. It pays to keep a few genuine 'experts' on retainer, such as Professor John Curtice, to be wheeled out on such occasions. But anyone will do and most ennobled former ministers will jump at the chance to spout their half baked opinions on live TV.

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