This is our truth, tell us yours
Apparently the weather is bad in New York and New Jersey.
I don’t live in New York,or New Jersey. I love New Jersey, and I’ve always enjoyed New York, but they’re a long way away from me, and bad weather there is not useful news to me.
So why is it news, as in news that the BBC and the British mainstream media want to report?
Less people have died on the East Coast of the USA because of the weather than die each day in Syria or Iraq, but, apparently, American weather is newsworthy. How do we unpick the idea that civil war in the Middle East doesn’t matter, but American weather does?
I’m notoriously grumpy about the way in which the Guardian has become an international newspaper, where it’s hard to tell if an article is about UK politics, Australian politics or something else. That weakness isn’t just about marketing; it’s about the extent to which journalism has become about re-usable and accessible sources that are cheap, as opposed to the expensive business of actually doing some news gathering.
According to the radio station I’m listening to this morning, thousands of people in London will be inconvenienced by snow affected airports on the US east coast. Thousands of people will also be inconvenienced by the continued closure of the Newcastle to Carlisle railway line, and the diversion /closure of the Carlisle to Glasgow mainline, but that isn’t news, apparently. Similarly, Rothbury only gets into the news these days in re-treads of the Raoul Moat story, ignoring the fact that the main road into the town has been closed by a landslip for a couple of years. The thousands of people who live in Rothbury and are inconvenienced count for nothing compared to the easily available footage of Americans looking surprised by snow, like slightly less cuddly pandas.
It’s hard not to conclude that journalists are lazy, unethical and mendacious, intent only on publishing what is easy and glib, not with news.