I just realized that I have a lot of complaining to do when it comes to news. It’s not that I have anything against news agencies, but recently they’ve got me pulling my hair out.
It seems the instructions given to anchors these days are excessively didactic. This is primarily because I assume that anyone working for such high profile news agencies, like the BBC and Al Jazeera, would be above average in terms of common sense. Needless to say, average itself is sufficient for characterizing appropriate questions to ask.
Experience is critical in all fields, and more so even in journalism. Experienced journalists know how a story should be reported, the type of audience that their story is aimed at, and most importantly they ask the right questions.
What I noticed recently is that journalists have picked up an indelible habit of asking silly questions. At first I thought it was due to the blatant prejudice of the news agency they represent, but now I think it’s just plain stupidity.
For example, in a recent segment of The World Today on the BBC World Service, the presenter of the program got in touch with one of the victims of the tsunami in Japan. The presenter, as I eventually found out, has been working for the BBC for no less than 8 years. Her first question was “How is the atmosphere in Japan regarding what happened?”
I have no idea what she was expecting the reply to be, but I can tell you that I, sitting on my desk at work, could have answered that question. I’m not saying I know much about journalism, but that’s definitely a question for a correspondent. What was she expecting? Jubilation? Ebullience? WHAT???
Another question, that’s equally execrable, was asked by an Al Jazeera presenter to one of the pro-democracy protesters in Libya. The poor man probably risked his existence to get in touch with Al Jazeera, and yet he’s asked “How bad do the rebels want Gaddafi to go?” Not that bad actually, they’re just dying for fun, you know, because they like putting their lives on the line and carrying weapons they’ve never used before; seriously, it’s a trend nowadays.
What I advise is that these idiots on TV and radio, claiming to be journalists, should just let the people call and tell their story like they see fit. Don’t ask stupid questions because it’s a waste of time for all of us.
There’s a saying that goes “Ask a stupid question, and you’ll get a stupid answer”; I think if those civilians on the ground were in the right state of mind, far away from all the tempests, they’d probably embrace this adage. God bless them.