Columns 7.2.2018 08:29 am

Aroused news falls flat

Newspapers seized and some shut down.

Newspapers seized and some shut down.

And this phenomenon is not limited to SA. British Sky and US CNN are guilty of the same sin.

It’s called information overload, meaning there’s a limit the brain can handle. If that weren’t enough, our cerebral control centres have to cope with news overload provided by television channels.

And this phenomenon is not limited to SA. British Sky and US CNN are guilty of the same sin.

I’m referring to what our channels define as the main story, presupposing a newsworthy subject is commanding prime time – not dissimilar to front page news in conventional newspapers. “Scoop” is another old-fashioned word describing it. So far so good.

But then it loses it efficacy because it lasts for ages, with every ounce of juice squeezed to a drip.

Newsreaders, reporters and analysts are hard pressed to keep the embers burning. Thing is, after day one, viewers have had enough. In fact, a subject that initially was informative and inspirational, has been neutralised and become boring.

At that point televisions are turned off, or surfing kicks in for something far removed from the long-running story.

Sadly, because of the repetitive narrative, clips and editorialising, it’s a lost lead. In a newspaper setup it would’ve been relegated to a few centimetres on back pages.

Editors, producers and reporters in the electronic media have evidently forgotten the golden rule when it comes to disseminating news: keep it short and concise.

Okay, feature stuff like politics and deaths of celebrities is handled differently with more facts, figures, commentaries and audio clips – but again, it mustn’t be overdone.

You’ll probably want to burn me at the stake when I suggest stories of rugby star Joost van der Westhuizen and currently musician Hugh Masekela are examples of turning them into tiresome and patronising pieces – something even the two stars wouldn’t have appreciated.

To have them featured in every news bulletin and historical piece for three days running, is ludicrous.

Heaven’s above, the extended funeral coverage goes beyond belief. Unless of course, the channels are unable to ferret out enough material to fill a day’s broadcast.

I think not. The news bits running at the bottom of the screen, if covered, will do the trick.

Ironically, those bits are often more interesting than the belaboured stuff. By the way, I loved both Joost and Hugh.