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Wednesday, 9 August, 2000, 14:11 GMT 15:11 UK
Are you suffering from news overload?
Forget the faithful nightly news programmes, news on demand is the name of the game. ITN are launching a 24-hour news service - competing with Sky News, BBC News 24 and CNN.
An information-hungry audience is now spoilt for choice with extensive news coverage on the internet, downloadable headlines on mobile phones, and the development of interactive TV - to name but a few of the rapidly expanding platforms.
But do people really need or want this amount of news at their disposal 24 hours a day?
Have your news habits changed - do you still read the paper and watch the evening news? Or do you check the developments of a breaking story from your PC at work, and tune into rolling news when you're at home? Are you suffering from news overload?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
There isn't any danger of being overloaded by news. There is a danger, however, of being overloaded by the pointless speculation, surmise, opinion, journalists' obsessions and gossip that seem to fill most programmes that pretend to be "the news" these days.
I have BBC News 24 on in our flat most of the day. I wouldn't entertain any other news service. ITN can launch what it likes, but it will be a poorer, anorexic younger brother of what the BBC does.
We live in a new age, the information age. Those who give us the information we crave so much has control over this digital generation. We should be asking whose news is the truth. In these times of rapid information, internet, digital television are we really sure who's pulling the strings and now its even easier to cover your digital tracks.
We can only hope that this technology brings more freedom of information. Seek the facts not the drama. Find your own truth and don't let others hand it to you on a digital plate.
In a way yes. However, the more serious problem is the lack of in-depth quality news coverage as the agencies rush helter-skelter for ratings by focusing increasingly on the sensational and the trivial.
Certainly, the world suffers from an oversupply of real news, but not from the likes of the BBC. The reason I will always remain a patron is your dedication to the facts without the burden of a political suffix. Reporter's elsewhere would do well to remember that when pondering why the BBC is so well respected. Correspondent's personal politics should always remain invisible.
There are now an increasing number of sources for news.
The stories being reported are virtually the same in all cases.
So how can this constitute news overload?
Alex Cull, London, UK
What the 24 hour news channels need to do is to avoid 30 minutes of endless repetition of the same stories every hour. The news channels are certainly not overloading us with news, but merely summarising the "important news." There needs to be more depth to the channels, which very few programmes provide, although Newsnight on BBC2 does do this. As far as breadth of coverage is concerned, which is what "news on demand" is really about, internet sites rather than television, is the best way of providing it.
Politics isn't news unless something shattering happens - don't keep on reporting what politicians say, we don't care! AND if there's really no news, be honest enough to say so.
Christopher Hobe Morrison, Middletown, NY, USA
Kevin Turner, UK
What disturbs me about TV news is the emphasis on trivia and the "doctoring" of reports for visual impact. Examples of "doctoring" include filming an interviewee walking past the camera, or sitting at a desk pretending to look thoughtfully over some papers. I believe the editors use the weasel expression "set up shot" in these cases.
Worst of all are press conferences with anxious relatives of kidnap or murder victims. These are always punctuated by close-ups of hands being held or wrung. Why must they continue with these fake and distasteful practices?
Until TV news broadcasts return to the message rather than visual impact, they cannot be trusted.
24-7 news is a fabulous thing. Like some people have already said, you are not tied down to watch news only at certain times of the day.
The more all-round news channels there are, the more likelihood there will be more quality and interesting items rather than the negative news you get these days especially from Africa. Maybe the new channels will be able to show people in the West that there are more brighter and positive aspects of Africa than famine and war. Viva 24 hour news!
In my opinion there's never been so little news and what there is not as impartial as it used to be (especially since the Yugoslavian break-up 8 or 9 years ago).
What news we get is agenda-based, depending on the news agency. This involves reading between the lines as to what their spin on it is.
I know from my rare occasions out of London how much of what is reported is of no relevance - it's just political gossip.
The term 'news' is purely relative. We are only informed of what the broadcasting organisations think is 'news' and 'news worthy'.
Steve Woods, UK
Since I have access to cable TV, I do take great advantage of BBC News 24 and CNN. Now, no matter the time, I can be briefed in 15 minutes of what is going on. Of course, I could use the old and faithful teletext, but...
Since getting the internet for my home PC, I have thrown away the newspaper, and every morning I check the BBC site for extensive news coverage. It's enough for me, and I can't see why some people would want to watch and hear about the news all the time, even if they do control when they watch it. One channel is enough, two and it is beginning to become a bit too much.
Natalie B, UK
More news is great news.
News on demand is the way news should be. I shouldn't have to arrange my life around the BBC news at 9pm - I can't guarantee I'll be in front of the TV then; and I don't want to have to. And I don't want all of yesterday's news in a newspaper. I want the news I'm interested in, up to date, whenever and wherever I want it.
News on Demand? If it is something where you can choose the topic that interest you and where you actually get to see only that which interests you, then I have nothing against it. I actually would prefer this than being forced - more or less - to watch reports which were created to fill the time gap and tie you down to the station before you can see the main event. "But first, we have these news stories for you..."
The problem is the lack of analysis and reporting the deeper implications of news. As in the Concorde crash, would it have gotten the same coverage if the spectacular footage of the Concorde trailing a plume of fire hadn't been taken? This is a minor issue and lots of more important things go on than whether the Air France Concordes are grounded or not.
Benjamin (news junkie), UK
I use a combination of CNN, for "instant gratification" of news requirements, and this BBC site for in-depth analysis and a reality check. I used to have a short-wave radio in my car to pick up the BBC (great during my 2 hour commute to Manhattan), but the radio eventually died. Public Radio over here does a commendable job, though, often ably supported by BBC correspondents anyway! And although in recent years the BBC has become more "populist" in its editorial approach (which somewhat degrades its credibility at times), there is still no news organization that even comes close to its quality; any newcomer to the news business has a very high bar to get over to beat it.
Propaganda on demand? Excellent entertainment! More, more, more: the masses cry!
No thanks, bad idea.
Much of the so-called news we get presented with is garbage. After countless hours of TV and radio and yards of print debating as to whether we should see the grinning faces of the Blair family whilst they are on holiday - it is obvious that the news editors have a problem filling their current schedules. (Do they not appreciate that the average reader/listener also needs a holiday from the Blairs).
My message to the media is - produce more on a regular basis by all means, but please restore the quality and balance of years gone by.
People seem to forget, we've had interactive 24 hour news on our televisions for over 20 years. Its called teletext.
I'm suffering from America bashing overload more than anything else. Can't the BBC, ITN and other news organizations find more interesting topics instead of recycling the same tired, envy-laden vitriol on America?
I really do feel that there is too much competition in the news media because in order to 'grab' viewers, organisations will begin to report more 'sensationalist' stories making the UK a 'tabloid' educated state. I don't see why ITN feels it should, or can compete with BBC NEWS, the worlds largest news gathering organisation, because its history and quality of reporting along with its resources far exceed any other organisation.
Put simply, we have too much media. With thousands of "media" people milling about on their daily task of job justification, the inevitable result is loads and loads of drivel!
Adrian, Hong Kong
I travel a lot on business. It is always useful to know what is going on and my trusty miniature SW radio travels with me wherever I go so I can listen to BBC World Service. Unfortunately, what with the solar maximum, reception conditions are poor this year so I use other means such as the Internet. I enjoy listening to the news but frankly, there is more choice of information available on the Internet. A news programme, even rolling news like CNN etc, is limited by what can be presented during the news slot and thus we are limited by what an editor feels is interesting.
I love the news - in fact I just cannot seem to get enough of it. I'm a shameless news junkie and when you live in this part of the world it's all happening "above" you and at different times, so rolling news is even more important.
24-hour news channels are an excellent idea provided that what we get is good quality reports of news, good, bad or indifferent, rather than just sensationalism. For many years now there seems to be a trend to report mainly bad news, so how about emphasising the happier stories, particular before the watershed so that our children will also see that not everything in the world is bad? Who knows, some of this search for the bright side of life might even rub off onto us adults?
The good thing about a 24-hour news channel is that whenever there is a breaking news story, we can watch it live as the developments happen, unlike those programmes on fixed schedules where we would have to wait for hours before we know what's happening.
If you're talking of overload regarding 24 hour business news, then, yes, it's overwhelming. I'm going to go nuts if I see yet another channel with the annoying non-stop stock ticker on it! As for other news, or "real" news as I call it, we may have non-stop news, but somehow it seems strangely watered down.
James Laming, UK
I love news on demand. I often work late and my schedule is not a 9-5 thing so being able to come home, sit down and learn everything that has happened in the world is fantastic, I can still keep up-to-date with current affairs, market movements and weather at my leisure - not at set times.
Roll on video on demand!!
The news never sleeps so why should it be a problem that the news servers never sleep in providing coverage? I read headlines throughout the day and find that as long as there is new and good analysis to a story then I don't care when it is reported. There is no news overload - the problem is selective reporting limiting news reports on certain topics.
Mitchell Quinn, UK
News channels fail to realise that, most of the time, nothing much happens of interest to the average viewer. There is nothing more tedious than "rolling news" on a slow news day.
The world is a busy place. It's nice to know what's happening around the world any time of the day. Besides, the ITV news at 11.00 pm is too late.
Surely everyone using this site has changed their news habits?!
I have become addicted to the 24 hour news culture. A daily routine of watching BBC News when I wake up; reading a newspaper on the way to work; having the BBC News site and a London News site open on my PC all day; reading The Evening Standard on the way home and then watching the 11pm news before bed. You can't imagine how I feel when I miss the nightly news on TV or can't get hold of my favourite Sunday newspaper. I want all this news but am not sure it's all that healthy for me!
The amount of news anyone watches is entirely up to the individual. If you want to live, breathe, eat and sleep news then you can. If you don't, then do something else.
There's no news overload if you don't watch it. Turn off the TV, close the newspaper and surf elsewhere.
As the old saying goes - no news is good news.
Dr Jon B, Sweden
I'm a journalist, so I'm out there trying to get news in my chosen field and can get in at all hours, missing the main TV bulletins, I don't have cable/digital TV so can't use CNN/Sky, so the BBC News Online page is my homepage at work and at home, and Talking Points are great (if filled up all too quickly!) so for people with weird working hours, 24 hour news is just fine. You can't read newspapers all the time (and more and more of the online news are just the edited chunks of the papers I used to buy).
The only problem that I can see is keeping a decent audience figure for them all. I guess that the two strongest players will come through (BBC and ITN). Like the case is now on terrestrial TV. The good thing about 24 hour news channels is the news organisation is more likely to have a reporter in the area if a big news story breaks any where in the world.
If the news was 100% accurate I wouldn't care how often I heard it.
Long live the journalists who tell the whole truth!
Lee Millward, England
There is too much news coverage. Beyond a certain point, no additional coverage or analysis can illuminate a story any further. We see this every day, when stories are covered by the studio presenter, a location reporter - who is often there simply to say "there's no change in the situation" - and 2 or more studio-based "experts". The result of all this activity and verbiage is a pointlessly detailed and repetitive raking-over of the same sparse ground. It's as though the news providers regard the time spent on a story the most important factor, rather than the content.
Even though one is bombarded with all this news, one always have the discretion to tune-out because half this stuff is not even forced upon you. If anything, it is quite helpful because the more one reads on the same subject from different sources, the clearer it becomes in concluding one's own personal opinion on what truly might have happened. Thus reducing the human error that the reporter might have caused due to controllable or uncontrollable reasons.
I like to get news from various global sources on line. It gives me a perspective on events that the sanitised biased TV and newspapers simply don't have. There is no overload, although I can imagine a lot of people are unhappy with the idea of other people freely seeking out information without it going through their censors first.
Jose Fernandez, Netherlands
Constant news means that we can catch up with what's going on in the world whenever we want. You don't have to overload because you have the choice as to watch channel you watch or where you go to receive the news, you are in control.
The constant news streams that we are far more likely to hear of major and important events as quick as possible and have a constant flow of news when we all need it rather than the old way of bulletins dispersed between programmes.
Yes. News doesn't respect the clock so 24-hour news is needed. As long as the news on rolling news stations are of the high quality of the existing output on BBC or ITV. 24 hour news TV comes in to it's own during breaking news events.
More people are now into a wider variety of things (shares, travel, sports) and want their information to be up-to-the-second accurate. This is a trend surely set to increase as more wired devices appear in everyday life.
Martin Dart, Oxford, UK
What we're suffering from is a lack of serious debate. News today is just soundbite after soundbite with little actual "meat". If only people had attention spans of more than a minute...
I would like to point out that news on demand is not necessarily news overload. Only if you choose to or if you are surrounded by 'news demanders' is it overload. Still, I believe availability of news and information on demand is a positive development which will benefit society as a whole.
24-hour news runs the serious risk of degenerating into a form of voyeuristic entertainment for those with nothing better to do in their lives.
Pete Morgan-Lucas, Wiltshire, UK
I have access to about 15 news channels, plus internet, newspapers etc. But that doesn't mean I'm glued to the news all day long. For most people the extra news channels just means you can be more selective in what you watch or read. For the broadcasters, the wider choice probably means that retaining subscribers will be more difficult.
No, but it's a good way to spend time in a boring job.
There may be plenty of news channels but they do tend to deliver information at a shallow level, thank goodness for the in-depth programmes provided by the BBC.
I'm not sure there is a great demand for 24-hour news but there is a big demand for on line news. I do receive BBC News 24 via cable and what interests me the most is some of the more in depth personality interviews and programmes such as Europe Direct. These provide information and choice not found within other programme schedules.
Jonathan Kelk, England
I'm always curious of the events shaping the world, thus I like to watch or read news. I don't think this is information overload as people can choose not to see the news. Four major sources or news is likely to be too many, so I guess, sooner or later 1 or 2 will disappear. With more channels, the variety of news being offered can give different perspectives of a subject. Anyway, if the news channels end up like CNN, it's hard to find any news amongst their commercials!
I like BBC News 24, I can get up to speed with what's going on in a couple of minutes. Sky News active is fun to use!
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