Thursday, July 22, 2010

The ABC and the news I'm sure someone might be waiting for ...

(Above: the news some have been waiting for, along with plenty of news I haven't been waiting for, but if you're waiting for the news, always with the Godot-like waiting, the web site is here).

Well being a sucker for a launch, I did the right thing and tuned in to the launch of the ABC's 24/7/12/365/∞/366 on a leap year news channel in this vibrant multi-channel world, as it strives to bring us all the news that matters, counts, or looks like an important hill of beans in this troubled world.

Sadly I didn't get an invite to the opening bash, but that significant omission didn't produce any sorrow or sense of loss - a gaggle of suits, power dressers and cardigans always makes me nervous.

Even so, the Ultimo bunker looked quite grand and exciting, with a nice fishbowl effect for the new team - as if someone had decided the open plan Channel 10 news room evoked fond memories of nineteen seventies 'let's all look at each other over a desk' kind of office, with vibrant carpets and perhaps even a touch of EST (or est if you will).

The trouble being of course that while you can look into the fish bowl the shoot off doesn't bring you images of swinging New York streetscapes or even Martin Place, but rather the ABC foyer.

Anyway, I digress, but that's because it was a bummer dudes, a real downer. Luckily I had some work to do, so all I did was listen, which spared me the actual sight of Terror blogger Tim Blair rabbiting on about nothing in particular in a segment dubbed The Drum, no doubt to interlock in a futurist multi-media, cross platform way with The Drum on the ABC's website, and highlight aunty ABC's prize capture, Annabel Crabb, purloined from granny Fairfax.

Well I played their game, and went to the web site, and there discovered Bob Ellis scribbling Gillard's reckless gamble, and it took a horde of people to stop me from rushing from the room in a demented frenzy.

Back on the box, there was also a Chaser lad (they can only stop being called Chaser lads when they reach sixty four), but sadly the lot of them were rabbiting on about nothing in particular, perhaps in the hope that a plane might crash, and they could all swing into action, and hold the front digital page, and so bring us harrowing real time real life up to the minute images of the breaking tragedy, or catastrophe, or unnerving calamity. News as a kind of visual porn, a bit like wild animal feeding frenzy porn.

Early in the evening, there was a fetid and dull scoop, or should we call it an exclusive, about former Chairman Rudd not attending security classes, but instead acting as a truant, wagging them like a naughty boy, and sending in a substitute, a twelfth man, one of the team of seventeen, without even liking cricket or footie, and so Julie Bishop admonished headmistress Gillard for not giving him a smack and bringing him in to line, thus making it all Gillard's fault that the actual at the time Chairman Rudd was a naughty boy, and the deputy Chairperson negligent and derelict ... and excuse me, will that storm in the teacup prevent me from having a nice scone with my ABC cup of cha?

Today I see that the broadsheets have largely ignored this tremendous scoop.

Then there was a self serving interview with a tinpot South Pacific military dictator explaining how misunderstood and hard done by he was ...

And that was about it. Luckily by this time I'd finished my work, and so could watch a bit of television. I didn't persevere with 24/7/∞.

No harm done, and good luck with that, but as expected it's only for news junkies and special occasions, and for much of it, just a further illustration of how the news has become a kind of modern valium, a kind of muzak for the ear and the mind, as it burbles along in the background.

Apparently Tim Blair once predicted 24/7/∞ would never happen, and then turned up to the party to eat his words, proving yet again that he has more front than Anthony Horderns. Actually considering what happened to that good old gingerbread gothic shopping block, a lot more front ... but not much more than a motor car race and royalty and climate change bugaboos running around inside the old noggin.

But his appearance also hints at a problem which really shouldn't have appeared on the first night. The ABC launches a new news channel and Tim Blair and a tinpot South Pacific dictator and a spanking of a former PM (chairman who?) is the best they've got? Is that all there is my friends?

At least Nine or Seven would have launched with the discovery of a witches' coven practising black satanic mass rituals in the nude in Penrith ... They know what's news ...

Of course there's the tedious need for balance, which is code for wheel in the token right wing ratbag commentariat commentator, and there's also the desire to make news a kind of entertainment, which considering the opposition might be Bed of Roses isn't that hard. Though come to think of it, when the opposition is Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert it's actually bloody hard ...

Stuck with these imperatives, the "keep it turning over" types behind the wheel are suddenly confronted with the small media pond, and the limited talent, already familiar from endless eruptions in other forms of media, whether by killing trees, turning up online in endless opinion pieces, or appearing on any passing current affairs show they can find that will have them (did someone mention Chris Berg?)

Can someone please explain why the natural home for the bulk of the commentariat, be it Blair or Albrechtsen or Henderson or Henderson's wife or Bolt or Berg or a dozen ratbags from the Institute of Public Affairs or assorted others is the ABC? Why don't they spend their hours on commercial television, or get themselves behind Chairman Rupert's paywall? It almost makes you think they can't stand television advertising, that fine example of the free market at work, and so haunt the ABC like a flock of right wing undead zombies ...

After a little while, the work being boring, and the news even more boring, I had a fantasy of being invited in to the 24/7/∞ inner sanctum at 2 am as the phantom blogger, and donning a brown paper bag, in the style of that old talent quest nonsense The Gong Show.

Anytime a news story or a featured item started going on too long, they'd be gonged. Tinpot petulant South Pacific military dictator? Gong! Tim Blair wrong again? Gong! Former chairman Rudd, in shock exclusive sensation wags security class, gong!

By golly, it'd be more fun than watching Tony Abbott doing his thing on Hey Hey it's a totally tedious Wednesday.

Never mind, I'm sure it'll be useful when something significant happens, as opposed to the ambulance chasing and petty parochial stuff that passes for news these days.

Thus far the best fun has been listening to Kim Williams on Radio National being "feisty" and warning that the ABC might well be ruining its other channels. Such a caring, sharing head of Foxtel. He was so tetchy, Sheryle Bagwell conducted the interview like a nervous glove puppet, and if you want to re-live the moment, thanks to the full to overflowing intertubes, you can find it here in ABC News 24 launch: the effect on Foxtel. The main effect thus far seems to be a case of jaundice ...

Never mind, so long as the ABC continues to pique him by showing Jon Stewart and Colbert, I'll be happy.

Meanwhile, it's symphony night, and a chance to hear Garrick Ohlsson do Chopin's second piano concerto, after having chanced to catch him talk with Margaret Throsby (here, in real player, windows and mp3 download, though the interview will drop down the recent guest list, and then you'll have to search for the 22nd July guest). Throw in Adams Doctor Atomic Symphony and that old standby Beethoven's fifth, and there's more to life than news 24/7/∞.

Even if everyone could chortle about how Tim Blair was wrong. Yet again ...

But wasn't it good they recaptured that macaw in Adelaide ...

PS Perhaps you thought I was joking about witches in Penrith. And so did I ... until I googled and found Is There Any Witch Covens Around Sydney In Particular Penrith? There's too much useless stuff on the intertubes, let alone being available 24/7 ...

(Below: the macaw, as presented in Media pack chases escaped zoo macaw).

(Below: Tim Blair, infesting the ABC archives, in tandem with Simone Young, both interviewed by Richard Fidler here back in 2006, and amazingly the WinMedia stream still plays. See there was a natural link between Blair and classical music, and not even sixty six degrees. And now there's a link between Blair and macaws).

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments older than two days are moderated and there will be a delay in publishing them.