Friday, September 22, 2006

Demise of TV political journalism


The one thing that spoiled the view from the conference hotel in Brighton this week was the burnt-out shell of a pier. I did think of using a picture of this as a symbol of what has happened to the once-glitzy Conservative campaign, but I see that the Tories have now done this for themselves with a replacement of their once-proud blue dragon with a squiggle.

Perhaps it is more representative of what has happened to political reportage on national TV, on BBC in particular. (I am sure that HTV did their usual sound job, but, sadly, I didn't have the equipment in Brighton to check on the media back home.) Nick Robinson's idea of deep analysis at the conference was to tote a life-size cut-out of Menzies Campbell along the sea-front and to ask holiday-makers some facile questions.

On the late-night news programmes, there was a vague attempt to build up Charles Kennedy as a threat to Menzies Campbell's leadership. Not only was this scuppered by CK's competent, but uninspiring speech, but also by his own clearly sincere statement of gratitude and loyalty to Ming.

TV ignored the rousing speeches by Nick Clegg (crime and civil liberties), Chris Huhne (environment) and Ed Davey (renewable energy). The very ubiquity of these three could even have given the media a better story than the one they went with: fresh challengers for the leadership. More seriously, the media did a disservice to the British public by not presenting the very distinct agenda which our main speakers laid out.

- Frank Little
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