JohnPullin's Blog

Journalism, engineering, business, and sometimes other things

The Swiss at the Commonwealth Games

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I’ll happily watch most sports on television, with the possible exceptions of darts and the circus tomfoolery that is wrestling. I’m a bit more discerning about what I’d pay good money for to go and see live, away from the comfort of my armchair, but I’m a pretty active watcher all told, with around 50 soccer matches a season and maybe half a dozen days at the cricket. Even the odd rugby match. And I got quite excited when the Olympics were in London a couple of years back.

The wall-to-wall blanket coverage on the main BBC channel of the current Commonwealth Games, however, is proving slightly too much of a good thing. I know it’s quite important, and if it was in London rather than Glasgow I might go along. But the Olympics it ain’t. And I wonder whether the BBC’s saturation coverage isn’t more to do with the fact that it’s lost most major sporting events to satellite channels than with the Games’ intrinsic merits. Also that it’s in Scotland, and the BBC doesn’t want to be blamed for losing England’s oldest colony in the September independence referendum.

Anyway, I’m not watching much of this coverage, but I do want to catch up on the highlights in the TV news. And therein lies a problem.

TV news coverage of sports events – soccer excepted – seems to me these days to be less and less about the sport and its news and more and more about the sports news presenters. Instead of showing us 60 seconds of cricket highlights, wickets falling, catches being held, exquisite cover drives and so forth, you get 30 seconds of that and then 30 seconds watching someone called Joe outside the ground give his opinion. Does Joe have devastating insight that justifies this? Or a commanding screen presence? No he does not.

Worse still is something I’m inclined to call “the Andy Swiss phenomenon”. Swiss is a sports presenter whose role seems to be, while great sporting events are happening in the background, to “pop up”, in the manner of a meerkat, to offer some anodyne fact-free guff about the event that he can’t see because he’s looking into the camera and you can’t see because the camera is focused on him.

It’s maybe unfair to blame it all on Andy Swiss: other presenters are now doing very similar. It looked, yesterday, in the background of the report on the Commonwealth Games marathon, that runners were falling over in the wet, but you couldn’t really tell because some presenter was standing in front of the action telling you it was raining and that she was getting wet.

This is rubbish: rubbish coverage of interesting sports events, and rubbish reporting in general. It’s the televisual equivalent of a selfie. It offers no information or insight, except to tell me that some TV news reporters have big ears and big egos, and some TV news editors have no clue about news values nor any regard for the intelligence of their viewers.

The job of a reporter, any reporter, is to hold a mirror up to the world; TV reporters can go one step further, and hold up a window for us to look through. This lot are too fond of holding up mirrors and showing us their own reflections in them.

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Written by johnpullin

July 28, 2014 at 4:43 pm

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