Thursday, March 03, 2011

Going Local

One thing I always love about local TV news programmes is the way in which they manage to find (mainly spurious) links to national and international stories, in order to justify covering events occurring far outside of their catchment area. I can't say that I blame them. After all, there are only so many times you can report on the state of the drains in Brighton, or the plight of ducks in East Grinstead whose pond has run dry, before you can hear your viewers snoozing off. It must be soul destroying for the reporters, as well. All those years of training and paying your dues on local newspapers and the like, and you find yourself presenting stories about local villagers getting militant over council plans change the bin collection times. Getting back to the point, I think that my local news programme excelled itself last Sunday. First of all they managed to justify a report on the chaos in Libya, on the grounds that one of the British oil workers trying to get out of the country had relatives in Reading.

Astoundingly, they managed to top that paper-thin link with an even better one, reporting on the earthquake in New Zealand on the grounds that the most affected city was called Christchurch, and there's a Christchurch in Dorset. To be fair, the story was actually focusing on how the citizens of Christchurch, Dorset, were showing solidarity with their namesake city on the other side of the world. Apparently, they'd knocked the steeple off of their largest church and were in the process of wrecking a large proportion of their houses. The council was planning to bring in the bulldozers to level the main shopping centre on Monday. Only by being forced to sleep on the streets, with no facilities, could the citizens of Christchurch, Dorset fully appreciate the plight of their Kiwi cousins. Actually, they were just holding prayer meetings and organising some fund-raising, but I think my story is better, and certainly more exciting, than the one the local news ran. If you are going to try and run an international story on a local programme, you might as well make it as sensational as possible.



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