Hunched or Bombasted?
While France softly delivers its first big television news edition at lunch time, other nations prefer to have their citizens in touch with what's going on outside their homes earlier.
Italy offers to the audience of RAI Uno - the major channel of the state-owned television - a substantial gamut of news at 8:00am and it’s a serious show. A close-up of the presenter at his desk fills the screen, immediately after the TG1* logo and tune.
(* TG1, TeleGiornale of RAI Uno, telegiornale meaning television news)
You are held. Today -24/11/06- the no-frills, no-nonsense voice starts with the finance laws. These have been the subject of a debate in Parliament and the main story of the “telegiornale” on this channel for a number of days now. The topic is developed by a reporter and his comments are illustrated with views of a street and Parliament's benches. Back to the presenter. He introduces the next story, which is the potential merger between Air France-KLM and Alitalia, then yields the microphone to a remote reporter. You listen to him while glancing at an airport and some staff at work inside a plane. Back again to the presenter, another piece of international news, another voice-over of a reporter backed by some images; this time, they show Putin and Ukrainian people protesting in the street.
This verbal ping-pong between the presenter and reporters goes on over five additional foreign affairs stories. The last ten minutes of the show then list a few crimes, the indexes of the major Stock exchanges - in particular the Asian ones - some sports events and dedicate a good bit of time for cultural entertainment. Closure moves in after the one-minute clip in this week’s series: History.
Now, off you go to work or wherever you want, dutifully harnessed as a citizen of the world. I suppose.
Well, lets' dare to compare with the renowned British provider of reliable and knowledgeable news, the Beeb. On BBC1, you’re invited as even earlier birds to have breakfast with both of their presenters. Settled on bright red sofas or at the news desk, they will roll over a bunch of stories from 6:15 a.m. to 9:15 a.m., the main news being rehashed at regular intervals. Moreover, you can watch or listen to them in front of your TV in your sitting-room or on your Ipod in the Underground or maybe on your computer in the office just before starting work.
No pressure here, it’s your pace, your pick of the day. So what’s up out there today?
Only two foreign news items are offered in the opening sequence, including Iraq, which has been an everyday topic for some time now. Then concerns closer to home take over: the availability of the anti-breast cancer medicine, Herceptin, the extension of parental leave, moving to the preparation of nomination of ministers in Northern Ireland are the stories that make up the current affairs before the daily weather status. And at fixed times a one-minute (or so) regional news gives the state of traffic and weather and mentions one salient bit of information specific to the area.
You are under the impression that the format is designed to fit your needs and your timing. During the 3- hour cycle of news, other topics stud this mosaic of facts and discussions. Each item is indeed explained, described and assessed not only by the journalists but also by either someone directly involved or anyone from the public.
I wonder if this implies that the BBC Breakfast is totally un-biased.
It seems to try relentlessly to engage its viewers in local issues that should be at least mulled over, if not tackled without delay. These various everyday life questions don’t unfold a typical rosy perspective and I could feel challenged to put on a brave face before stepping outside. On the other hand, if I jumped into Italian shoes, after swallowing the rich menu of TG1, I might feel inspired - while checking my attire ten times in front of the mirror – to go out and look around with gravitas.
How long do we remain affected by these doses of information, though?