I don’t know if I was the only one who found something deeply unsettling about the reporting of the tragedy at Gleision Colliery in Swansea last week. It took very little time before there were teams of reporters setting up camp where the rescue attempt was getting underway and what struck me as a hugely irritating and inappropriate effort to garner information/’news’ during the darkest of hours.
I listened to BBC radio as it went live to a reporter who was there, trying to create a story as the rescue effort was made. I found the news media circus quite sickening during this whole episode. I couldn’t for the life of me work out the purpose for this unending coverage other than to fill the self-imposed mandate to produce unending coverage.
By all means report news of the disaster, but then let them get on with the rescue. When that job is done, report the outcome. What happens in between is not in the immediate interest of the public, nor is it helpful to the situation. It is not the role of the media to liaise with, speculatively, the families of those involved. This was nowhere more painful to witness than when the first body had been discovered but they hadn’t identified who it was. The news media had a field-day with press-conferences and interviews with those concerned. It was clear right from the outset that they were hoping for another Chilean miner style success story, but there was a dark inevitability that I’m sure the rest of us could sense. Did they really think that was possible?
The fabric of our news industry seems to be made from the same stuff as that of reality TV production. Stories are either manipulated or created from the most tenuous of genuine happenings and when the shit hits the fan they move on and set up camp somewhere else (Dale Farm), looking for another story, and the cycle continues. Because it is a competitive, profit-driven industry, it inescapably suffers from information ADHD and relentlessly pounds us into submission, to the point where we are so overwhelmed that we become numb to the reality of each situation, easily bored and in need of constant stimulation to binge on intensely for a few minutes before moving on to the next course.
Let’s be aware of this, let’s dwell on the humanity behind each story and let’s dig beneath what we are fed upon the surface where the money floats, and listen to the small, passionate and genuine voices that we are being distracted away from hearing. We don’t need to know everything.
After writing this I listened to the new Scroobius Pip album, Distraction Pieces. Track 5, Death of the Journalist I felt was the perfect soundtrack and summary of my sentiments.