2 April 2010


I have been suffering a most unQuakerly frustration with the media recently. Taking a more constructive and co-operative approach, I have to acknowledge the extraordinarily difficult role they have in explaining a complex world in two-and-a-half minutes. We have had two recent visits to Stroud by a cameraman and journalist pairing to make what they can of the story of our local currency.

The first was Tim Muffet from the BBC Breakfast programme. His item was cool, involving camera tricks and that irritating background music that is wholly unnecessary and seems designed to avoid the risk that you might actually think about what the reporter is saying. The story was honest and Stroud looked great.

Then we had a visit from Hayley Platt from Reuters TV, who apparently sell their stories around the world. Her take was rather different, with a wider range of views and the narrative being developed by local people rather than by the journalist herself. Here I particularly liked the fact that three women talked about economics while the man was making the coffee.

Trying to communicate anything of interest in a soundbite is clearly challenging and it sometimes seem that the public debate is trapped by this unhelpful format. Who is imposing it? I think the journalists themselves. Most people are neither stupid nor have the attention span of a gnat. We are being trained to think and speak so briefly that any issue which requires systemic or deep thought becomes impossible. I would recommend the reading of German philosophy as a night-time antidote.

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