Let’s trace the ‘function’ of the National News Media. In my estimation the National News Media can be treated of, in regard to its function, in one generalised sweep.
The question of function can be asked as the question: ‘What does it do?’
I want to make a case, and I think it a very sound case, for saying that the National News Media is doing at best a job of maintaining outlooks and bolstering a sense of solidarity of outlook and attitudes amongst the British peoples.
At worst I believe it is an ineffectual thing and mostly fatuous. For a person not engaged in its milieu, the melee, the morass of ‘current affairs’ and so for a being who is not ‘following events’; that is to say, from an outsider’s perspective; the National News Media looks like this.
What is its character?
Current affairs and events, which are the bread and butter of all news media, by definition and intrinsically arise in the present and fall away in the present; and betweentimes they are news but beforehand of course, and especially afterwards they are not news; afterwards they are yesterday’s news; which proverbially nobody wants from a news media source.
It follows then that News presentations to the public are ‘rolling stories’ which break, peak, and fading diminish – in interest, in consideration, in newsworthiness. Rather than this rolling news being like a planet which orbits around another heavenly body, and so brings in the seasons and night and day and a great number of other regularities, being events which repeat themselves and which repeat themselves always in the same sequence; instead Rolling News is like a Space Probe sent out from earth and has been set on a trajectory by which eventually it leaves the Solar System altogether and goes on, indefinitely, into ever new territory, ever signalling back to earth data which is new and novel to people here.
This ever-new territory is able to provide such continuous and unique data because of what we call time is ever-passing from the present into future-presents; and actual particular events arriving are thus ever new and novel, in fact their arrival into presence brings anew a flow of new presents into existence, bearing things not seen or heard of ever before. I am speaking here about our common human experience of the uniqueness of being and of each our own life experiences in living a life. In this sense even returning seasons are new and novel; but only by virtue of them coming and presenting in slightly different manifestations year on year. The cycle of the seasons otherwise is predictable and expected to occur by us; so that a headline such as ‘We had little rain in July’ is not newsworthy.
The present is ever with us as an ever-being-realised future which is expiring. Thus time in this sense is linear, just as news is in our experience.
So as we have said, events are very difficult in fact to predict, and so they often take us by surprise and so they have a sensationalist value to them; and also because they are revelations to us of unsuspected things they have an attraction for us in no small amount based on a surreptitious and salacious inquisitiveness of appetite.
News in fact can become a habit; and people can become news junkies. The popular magazines which carry a degraded form of news make little pretence that they are about gossip and sensationalism and about having ‘peeps’ into people of interest’s living rooms and bedrooms etc. In this regard they are merely the News Media taken to a further level of habit.
Thus things come and go as news in a linear fashion. And people can become hooked, junkies of news stories. Especially so I believe those persons who present to us our news; the journalists and TV and Radio presenters and newsreaders etc are clearly near all of them mainlining on news and its discussion.
News presentation then is subject to hype; as if very often it was merely another form of dramatic entertainment. Think of the obsessive music which prefaces news bulletins each hour on BBC News Channel on TV. Its effect is cumulative and it draws in one’s attention ever more deeply as it goes on; and with that ticking clock counting down the seconds to O’clock, which is also on screen whilst this music is pulsing in one’s head; there can be little doubt that news is being treated as if it were drama.
Furthermore, at the hour a loud chime of Big Ben sounds, together with some ‘momentous’ drum thumps, as a newsreader reads out almost shouting, a headline before another great BOINGGG! and then drum thumps and the next headline read out.
Think of news stories being offered to you without all this rigmarole; no short clips of various flack jacketed reporters in war zones across the world; or in a flood somewhere or at an explosion elsewhere: what would we have left were there no hyped build ups? Not much. Nothing much to write home about.
So the presentation feeds expectation, anticipation, excitement, drama, the whole shooting match of rhetoric is applied with some force.
Yet as we have said; all this rigmarole is for literally ‘a creature of a day’; that news story which is buzzing and hot right now but which within a week will be cold toast.
What is going on: how can a story be so vitally important one day and then a few days down the line dead news?
Why the fuss; why the earnest 24/7 dramatised presentations; where is the purpose in it all?
Further when a person considers soberly what he or she is able to do about any situation suddenly arisen as say a National crisis or a fearful disaster; apart from staying indoors whenever it is likely to be affecting people around the hometown? As for quelling it or opposing it or doing anything to abate its course on one’s own; very little if anything can be achieved.
Also, given that many initial reports of such breaking news items of horrors are confused and scanty; their information not very reliable, such considerations compound one’s innate impotence to do anything constructive on one’s own.
News of some (not really too) bad weather last week here stripped the shops of sugar, milk and several other basic commodities. A few days below zero with some snow panicked a Nation into hoarding groceries and fuel etc. In many ways it would have been better for the News channels not to have hyped this pretty tame pet rabbit weather, and everyone still got sugar in the tea and milk.
At the moment we have a story going through the mill being ground up into digestible matter the news about the Russians and the poisoning of ex spies by nerve gas exposures etc. I have heard no evidence that Russia was responsible, other than it was a Russian nerve gas which was involved. Nothing, not a sausage other than this has been broadcast; yet to all intents and purposes no-one on the TV and in most of the nation doubts but the Russians did it. Trial and conviction without jury; a metaphorical lynching
What appears to be happening with this story; and it is a commonplace occurrence with stories concerning government and outrages occurring on British sovereign soil; the focus of the story, which has ever been only hesitantly on the victims of the nerve gas, has now altogether shifted so as for it to be about the ‘outrage’ of the Russian’s audacity to have done such a thing on Sovereign British soil. Like Lady Macbeth at King Duncan’s death being discovered, our Prime Minister and her cohorts are screaming loudly in concert as chief and first response ‘What, in our house!”
The furore going on is on the boil about Russia. It is necessary for the politicians the ruler governors that it goes on and is broadcast and written about across the nation as often as possible, for the time being. Its being bruited violently abroad like this is I do believe so as to be sheer ‘window dressings’ and as such all part and parcel of those drums thumping and that BOINGG! going on. Like Shakespeare’s Hamlet the government is at ‘unpacking its heart like a whore’ by screaming ‘foul play in our backyard’ from the rooftops; and it feels it needs to be seen to be doing this by the British Nation. This is the government’s ‘adequate response’ to this fancied ‘outrage’.
This is a purpose the News Media serves; of showing the British peoples by way of arms waving in wild gesticulation, that the government is busy, is on the case, and governing.
It is not that almost embarrassing ‘ultimatum’ given by our government to Russia to ‘explain’; nor is it the kicking-out of 20 or more diplomats from the London Embassy and flown back to Russia; nor is it in fact the posturing and the fancy footwork and the dramatic role play and this rhetoric bandied about like sweeties at a kid’s party; none of this is important to Russia, nor to our government as an actual response towards Russia; but it is all done to be of purpose ‘smokes and mirrors’ for the benefit of home consumption. It is all ‘retaliation being seen to be done’ by we British News freaks.
Such an approach secures the government its position as government in the eyes of the Nation. It also in large part is a handling of this affair by a government bankrupt of ability, and of measures to respond to Russia adequately, and of any daring or nerve to respond adequately, had a real response been possible.
It is, has been, will be conducted by government as it being a Perfect Storm – in a teacup. The whole art of government in Britain now is descended into such shows and pageants; just as it has done so in USA. I do believe that many people who have found themselves in government have no beliefs; I mean not beliefs in free markets or productivity – there’s far too much of that; but beliefs in life values, life goals, life purpose.
Thus they find themselves ‘like sheep gone astray’ and so they know that they are unable to formulate a proper a considered and adequate and effectual response or stance on these issues arising. In short they are floundering; and they feel and know that they are.
These beliefs are what our Nation is in lack of; hence its obsession with rolling news and rolling magazine gossip and rolling soaps and rolling reality shows; glued wholly to what is current and totally at sea with anything not ‘in vogue’.
In Britain these days one is not able to go to the toilet in a store facility without one having the store radio station throwing music at you and offering you bargains right now in store whilst you relieve yourself. So much do we demand and supply constant rubbish activity, and stuffs to pad out and so engage any stray consciousness we might use to raise a query about our lives. The scenario reminded me never so much of anything as it did of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and of the prescience of Douglas Adams.
I do believe, us having no beliefs, we are afraid to allow the music to stop. for the music to stop would signify to us a Hawking-like Black Hole into which we fear falling. Like Hawking’s Black Holes though; the fear and the event of falling are fictions we fear are truths
The situation is as though we had been transported to an island called the present; divorced from the past and separated from the future and we subsist in our minds solely and wholly in one single dimension of time’s three dimensions. No escape. Not enough education. Too much nurturing people to become entrepreneurs, or to become vocational professionals, or to be mere hands in factories and in service provision.
News media and current affairs as they are right now are atrociously ridiculous. Right now day after day Radio and TV presenters politicians and governors of Britain speak in public and daily are showing their inadequacy to hold their positions in life; by way of the historical and other factual goofs they make regularly, habitually; by their lack of grasp of fairly straightforward English language; by their ideas and suggestions put as means to solve social or political problems; their farrago of errors is in part shameful to be witness to, and also it feels sadly wry and embarrassing to think on what the rest of Europe thinks of us.
A silly pretty insignificant nation talking above its strength and unable to pull rank or to flex muscle. I am glad of this – I don’t support us warring with other nations, not as aggressors as we have done in the last 20 or 30 years. I am glad God has taken away our capacity to destroy so wantonly – we abused our capacity.
I do believe our government believes it is governing by way of the furores it makes on foreign policy and other issues. In actuality its response times and its take up of issues of import and urgency and so which are actually really pressing, is appallingly poor and is badly at sixes and sevens.
The Russians are able to mock our government and our government’s responses, and able to do so with absolute knowledge and certainty of complete impunity. Russia, if it is indeed responsible for the nerve gassing of people on British soil, has offended so many of us, but not for the callous cynical murders and attempted murders, no, only for its cheek and presumption in having done so. Thus our petty and facile natures are exposed like public laundry.