Breaking news and the infantalisation of audiences…

When you strip it all back, much of the bad blood generated on Twitter towards the BBC during Sunday’s lightening rebel ‘intrusion’ into Tripoli, was primarily for not giving good entertainment in the time frame required. On Dale and Co David Prever observes:

Waving tablets instead of toys we’ve reverted, without realising, to our inner child. We demand to know what’s going on right now, or sooner. None of this is new. The historian Christopher Lasch made a similar observation, years ago, when he said: “News appeals to the same jaded appetite that makes a child tire of a toy as soon as it becomes familiar..”

Eagerness to entertain may have been at the back of Iain’s faux pas that same night… David again:

Breaking news, even of the most tragic kind, feeds a dark need within us all. But in the race to be first, students of journalism – whatever that means these days – would do well to remember the classic Mark Twin quotation: ” A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”

Or to perhaps put it another way, just because you’re first, doesn’t always mean you’re the finest.

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  • Neil

    Charlie Brooker on the Norway shootings, kind of related…

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jul/24/charlie-brooker-norway-mass-killings

  • ayeYerMa

    “Waving tablets instead of toys”. There was me thinking that they were one and the same thing.

    Also not surprising given that Twitter and “tweeting” is barely more than school playground gossip and taunts for people with nothing better to do… ooops – what am I doing on this blog – I’m off…

  • A couple of decades back there was one of those “pocket cartoons”: two old buffers exchanging the thought: “It can’t be serious — Kate Adey hasn’t arrived yet.”

    Similarly, I’ll wait for it to become military history, when Max Hastings (or A.N.Other) writes the book.

    [I found the wikiquote exploration of first draft of history provoking, too.]

  • Sincere apologies @ 7:10pm: Kate Adie.

    Obviously all the critics are on holiday.

  • John Ó Néill

    Is it not a real vanity if anyone thought that Twitter could be filtering out the fog of war? It’s the mob’s stream of consciousness, for good and bad (and clearly much reporting didn’t feel compelled to deal with casualty figures – the reality of war). Tripoli may have been the first city whose assault was relayed by tweet-up but battlefields don’t generally lend themselves to clarity. Ironically #Tripoli (and the journalism competition) illustrated that this wasn’t entertainment, it was war.

  • Mick Fealty

    John, could you grab some examples. From that hashtag to illustrate what you mean?

  • John Ó Néill

    I’m critiquing the general methodology – some poor media student needs to look at how hashtag selection etc developes over the course of events to see how much reporting (via twitter) is headline grabbing as opposed to reportage. But (as a voyeur, flaneur, punter or whatever) sticking to hashtags rather than people seems to give a truer sense of how rumour, misinformation and chaos dominate battlefields. But tweets aren’t great for detail and there was little gore.

  • John Ó Néill

    Sorry Mick, I just meant #Tripoli as shorthand for those trying to tweet what was happening.

  • HeinzGuderian

    I’d be reluctant to extrapolate too much from last night’s events without some decent inside information, but it’s another victory for the private sector over the licence holder.