Most of the time, I religiously avoiid watching TV news; however, every 2 years, right before I teach my “News Writing” class, I refamiliarize myself with what a large percentage of my students will think of when they hear the word “news.” (I listen to NPR for context, check the Drudge Report for hype, and use news.google.com for depth.)
My least favourite part of any TV debate is the moment you step off the shiny set and back into the real world, when you have to make friendly small talk with the person you were “debating”, as sound engineers go through the delicate process of removing the radio microphones without ransacking your underwear. It goes beyond professional politeness to an exchange of secret smiles, an understanding that we may pretend to hate each other on screen, but we’re all friends really, when the cameras are off. We’re part of the same media elite, we run in the same circles and we’re playing the same game.
Having played that game for four years, I believe the losers are all the viewers, all the listeners and all the readers who have to put up with talking heads howling emptily at each other over a void of banal chatter and with being told that this constitutes constructive public discourse and fair representation of a range of opinions. –Laurie Penny