35 - The News

Like so many people in Britain, I have the habit of listening to the News. Given that I was driving for 4-500 miles a week, largely on my own, I became accustomed, as so many are, to listening to Radio 4: a daily dose of the Today programme, and often, bits of PM on the way home.

What did one learn from that experience? That the world didn’t move much between 0700 and 1700? It moved at least as much in the other interval, when the rest of the world has its day. I never saw the sense in hearing of the financial markets, either. Far too much of the content (of the BBC’s flagship radio programme, no less), made news of that presented by the rest of the Press. This is understandable, but the value of a news provider is what they produce that is different – new, indeed. The comment was worthwhile, but much of that was from the newscasters themselves; the best bits were when one would turn to another and ask a question (“I wonder whether ….”; “Is this connected with…”, “Do you think…”). Priceless. I both applauded and disapproved of the need to interview their own correspondents so as to get a better picture with a deal less spin – except that we must take on trust that the Beeb has no agenda.

That changed with moving into school in Plymouth. I was on duty in breakfast from 0715–0800, so missed the interviews worth hearing live, only catching the early news and completely missing PM unless going out for the evening and hearing that by chance. Holidays were spent in the car and so each time I caught up with the habit, getting my fix of news. A bit like missing chunks of the Archers, one has in a sense missed nothing, but trying to backtrack a passing reference to an occurrence you missed is hard.


That situation changed much more in moving to China. Here, one can catch Channel 9, the English language channel, sometimes: since it was impossible to receive that in Xi’an, I never grew a new habit. [Mental image of new habit: busy monks cultivating clothes]. By persecuting the net and persevering, one can sometimes get through to the BBC net-wise, but the coverage is so brief it is not worth the work. The trails to follow threads require a speed of connection that is not going to happen and the guys in the office (the staff room, those that had the urge) found that the way to do this was keep the news in the background and flip to it on occasion. Thus producing low quality work, but creating conversation. It is one of the best ways to use the net, flicking between answers, but suggests that we have a future of flitting between things in a very ephemeral and worrying way. No substance to our future? What an unhappy prospect. See 30 Telephones.

Also available is the China Daily, which I have yet to see on a newsstand, though I’d buy it if I did. It is found in coffee shops catering to rich foreigners (Starbucks, Costa) and gives a decent synopsis from a Chinese stance. I purchased The Week for nine months, but it was severely disappointing, giving comment on the comment without the substance I was looking for. The Herald Tribune does a similar task and I suspect that if one were in business of a certain sort it would be great. I want to know what is going on and if I knew what it was that I wanted to know, I’d know it already…… I have tried playing with RSS feeds, but need to spend months training self and system to find the stuff that I find interesting. The result so far is to have far too much to possibly read, usually resulting in binning the lot.

The result: I have two large screen televisions that stay off. I see no television at all. I have no newspaper. The China Daily is read cover to cover when on a plane and never in the coffee shop because one only gets to look, not to read. British or American papers have been read when outside China, but then one is back in the stream and catching news quite easily.


Am I missing anything? How would I know? No doubt there are some disasters of which I know not. I know there is currently a fuss about additives in milk using the same name as the plastic we cover kitchen furniture with; no explanation worth studying and I might as well wait another three months and read it as modern history. As to whether one should have changed one’s habits, no news here is trusted by anyone. Chinese Whispers is a title to write to, in time. And as for the sub-prime market, well one’s money dropped in value in spectacular fashion, but did anyone crying about the change actually DO anything? I did, but I’d planned that back in July. So does that make me clever? No way: I moved money for my reasons, not for anyone else’s. So did anyone move any money around? Well, the women in my family have bought and sold houses, and I hope that the financial so-called wizards moved ‘my’ money around so as to diminish the losses. But then that’s the same collection of nitwits that got us into this mess, is it not? One hopes to have put one’s savings with some of those doing only sensible things.  See 211 - 2008 Financial crisis

Meanwhile my question stands; did anyone do anything other than moan? Because if they didn’t, then just what is the point of all the fuss about listening to the news? Is its only function to generate what Americans would call water-cooler talk? Then we would be dramatically better off sticking to listening and watching sport.

Answers, please. By sea-borne bottle will be speedy enough.

Bearing in mind that the sea is still 350km away, although 1000km closer than last year.

            DJS 20081116
small edits 20161130


At the date below there has been not a whisper of response. Meanwhile, I discover my losses across the financial crash to have been something like £20k. The current ‘news’ is all over the UK election but yet again, the content is hard to grasp, particularly if you want to separate the conjecture from the substance. I spent about 20 minutes hunting information (thanks to the BBC and the Guardian), most of which stated the obvious. Is the audience really that stupid? Do we buy the newspaper that most agrees with what we (were going to) think? Would you not rather read something that assumed you can think and challenged you (just enough) to think a little more?

DJS 20100513

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© David Scoins 2017