Turning up the volume
Julio Daio Borges
I once met Ted Turner in what was then his own CNN newsroom in Atlanta, and heard him say that 24-hour news would usher in an era of good feelings. "It's the way the world talks to itself," he opined. Seeing picks scraping at the Berlin Wall, or the fur on Guards' busbies at Princess Di's funeral, I've wondered about this. Are we really hooked together by the calendar of television news, or do we share little other than the capacity to be momentarily distracted by the same things? What of the notion that TV news renders the world as fetish, dwelling ceaselessly on the images of collapsing towers or a blown- up bus, but leaving out things that matter? I asked myself these questions flicking from channel to channel, watching the dead pope's red slippers in a hotel room in Beijing.
Turner is less optimistic now than in his glory days. "They [CNN] go for the 'perv of the week'," he explained when quizzed by Variety magazine about the 25th anniversary of his offspring, now in the hands of megacorp Time Warner. The limitations of continuous coverage are easy to discern. In between rare peaks of drama come vast deserts of boredom. Blandness is a result of "palm tree journalism" - reporters never straying from their satellite link, gesturing towards rooftop air-conditioning plants. Because of the hurry to get stories on air, they are unscripted, Gilligan-style, taken in a rush. Willy-nilly, reporters have become extensions of the material that they purport to cover, surrendering any vestige of authorship. It may be giddyingly exciting to be seen in the Aleutians, or in Lesotho; but one must remember, too, how small audiences are. Sadly, Gore Vidal's remark that one can never have too much sex or appear too frequently on TV no longer holds true.
Nick Fraser, sobre o fracasso do jornalismo 24 horas na TV, no FT.
Julio Daio Borges