Saturday, 2 May 2009

News Reporting

One of my nefarious and expanding roles involves monitoring how, and what, news is reported online, so it is my (dis)pleasure to have to trawll through the various major news sites.

For some time, one of the worst has been, not for the breadth of their coverage, which is generally excellent, or even for editorial bias, but for the insipid quality of its journalism. Barely rehashed stories from elsewhere that border on plagiarism, less content than a radio news bulletin and a general feeling that, upon reaching the end of a story one has been somehow cheated.

However something odd has been happening recently; the quality of the stories has been improving, the writing is better, they have got longer and generally more insightful.

Today, though, things came back down to earth with a bump. Firstly with a story entitled "Pandemic 'could kill 750,000 in UK'" in which the reader is treated to predictions of the collapse of the health care system and a lottery of hospital beds. It is only in the fifth paragraph, half way through the story, one finds that these are worst case scenarios from a report published last year on on the state of preparedness and how to improve it. Nothing to do with the current outbreak whatsoever.

The next few that came in for attention from my virtual red pen were a mixture of unedited copy from the Press association and some reworded press releases that wouldn't pass for reporting on a student newspaper.

One would think that their coverage of the appointment first female poet laureate would go further than listening to Radio 4 and copying down what was said, perhaps some selected examples of her verse? But no that's all they choose to give their readers.

I can only presume that someone made a mistake last week and let an actual journalist into the building and that that has now been rectified and we are returned to the status quo ante.

No comments: