Escape Your Television - Diary of an Addict

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Day 24

A mild television confession to make. I couldn't help switching on the television to get the latest news from the Indian Ocean disaster and have seen quite a lot of news footage. Some of the camcorder video was hard to watch and I ended up turning off the television again after a while. I'm not sure I can cope with seeing another revised estimate on the number killed on that morning. I remember thinking something similar in September 2001 when the WTC was hit and hearing the death toll rise to 3000 but here it's approaching 40 times that number.
I don't know if I would've been stirred into donating money ( if it hadn't been for the video footage I've seen these last few days... the images are burnt in so, maybe TV can be used in a positive way too. If advertising can get people to part with their cash to buy things for themselves then it seems logical it can also get them to give their money to something more worthwhile.

I also flicked through the international news channels to see how America was covering the story and it was strange to se a difference. While the UK and European news networks seemed to dedicate about 50 mins in an hour to the story, Fox News was giving it only 10 mins in an hour. Maybe they have given it more coverage since and that's given them time to get some new sensationalist "KILLER WAVE" and "WALL OF DEATH" graphics together... plus they needed time to prepare the ubiquitous "It could happen here. Why you should be afraid" story.

Something else that concerned me in my short glimpse into the world of Fox News was the biased coverage to news items. For example, there was a piece on Michael Moore's new project (something about drug company price fixing) and the news reader/anchorman/presenter went into a tirade attacking his films, condemning the content and saying they were out-right lies plus a personal attack on Moore himself saying he was scruffy and fat. Well, all that may or may not be true but surely that's not the place for the newsreader to air his personal opinions. Even if our tabloid newspapers sink to that levels in attacking people at least our TV news doesn't and it offer the events in a neutral and un-biased fashion. You'd never see Andrew Marr, Anna Ford or Trevor McDonald going into a rant about someone they didn't like. You might see someone like Jeremy Paxman saying antagonistic things but that's invariably to politicians and in trying to break them out of their fixed monologue of soundbites. Anyway, it's slightly disconcerting if the majority of USA really does get it's news on world events from Fox.... I wonder what they would make of BBC News.

Oh well, at least I don't have to watch it, I've turned it off and no other programming has passed my eyes in the past three days.

If you want to help the surviving millions who suddenly lost everything a few days ago, there's information here which links through to The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) at who are co-ordinating the UK donations. Apparently it's raised £5 million in donations in the last 24 hours and is providing 3,000 telephone lines. You can donate over the phone by calling 0870 60 60 900 or through their website.