A few weeks ago I wrote an article as part of a job application in which I pointed out – albeit in a slightly glib manner – that Channel 4 is the King of news reporting. And not just because of Jon Snow’s funky tie collection. Anyone watching tonight as they revealed how it appears the News of the World not only hacked the phones of several murdered school girls, but put a police chief in charge of a murder investigation under surveillance in order to get further tidbits, must surely agree.
I didn’t get the job (a weekly column on popular culture), but I thought I would reproduce the article below, to lighten the mood of depression and outrage these revelations have caused. Twitter is an angry place to be right now.
This week you may have heard the non-story of a farm in Ireland where rogue cows were escaping from a barn before the farmer came to let them out in the morning.
It was the greatest mystery of modern times. Poirot was called in. And Columbo. And the Old Spice Guy. Then it was broken to the farmer that the dimension between reality and fiction had a non-permeable membrane, and eventually his brother became so inflamed with curiosity he set up a camcorder to “find out what was going on” and not at all because he found cows sexy.
This highly technical deductive research led to the discovery that one cow had worked out she could push the lock open with her tongue, facilitating a great escape for the rest of the herd. There followed a lively online debate about bovine intelligence, although Sky News reported, “Daisy seems unphased by her Twitter fame.” She was probably too busy blogging in outrage about the fact ‘WeLoveChrisBrown’ was trending. She has a point though. Did I miss a ‘wife beating is cool’ memo?
Anyway, in the age of globalization and the world-wide-intermatron, news output is far reaching and often nonsensical. From ITV reporting live outside a building where the accused used to work five years ago to the BBC choosing the weakest line of questioning you could possibly imagine (so Prime Minister, where did you get those socks?), journalists report on anything at all in order to fill the gaps between ad breaks. And if you have cable TV you can watch Fox News, perpetrators of propaganda so outrageous that Colonel Gadaffi would say ‘Wait, what?’
Having examined the options, you’ve probably come to the same conclusion regarding newsgathering that I have. It’s abundantly clear the only team who can be trusted is Channel 4. If Jon Snow were put in charge of all news output in the world, there wouldn’t be a whisper of complaint. You’d get serious reporting with proper questions asked; sprinkled with occasional bouts of dry humour but avoiding outright whimsy because they’re professional enough to recognise that’s what The One Show is for.
If I were to speculate wildly on why their coverage is better than anyone else’s, I’d say it’s because they all live in a big house together like in The Apprentice. Jon Snow is the dad, ruling with a hand that’s firm but fair. Krishnan Guru-Murthy is the mum, making pancakes for everyone in the morning before they go out looking for stories. Alex Thomson and Faisal Islam are the kids who are always picking on little sis Katie Razzall, and all three are forever knocking their knees off things and getting into hilarious scrapes.
Then there’s Uncle Gary Gibbon who likes shouting at politicians, and Cousin Sarah Smith who keeps Skyping from Washington DC to show off about the fact she had dinner with the Obamas again. They may have their ups and downs, but they work together as a team to bring us The Truth.
Frankly it’s the fly on the wall documentary of the year. How do I go about pitching programme ideas to Channel 4…?