The cult of the important

This week there has been a huge kerfuffle over the screening of a Today Tonight report on immigration, using the doorstopping technique of lazy production values and poorly researched backgrounding.There has been a backlash because we have forgotten about this type of producing media since the days of “Frontline” with ACA and TT.

However, there is an equally lazy type of production values to be found in radio and this is due to the demands of daily production and/or the laziness of the cosseted producers in various radio networks, whose content has not been challenged in years because it conforms to the trendoid values of the network involved. This can be found in the output of radio 4 in England and particularly Radio National in Australia.Every now and then there is a management shift in policy and all will become unstuck, however the closer the programme is to conforming to the inner city trendoidness of the station then little is done, critically, about the output of these programmes. One of these programmes I will name the other I find it better not to as I can see little future for both as both have been on air for many years without any critical evaluation

It is funny that this week BBC’s World Service arts programme The Strand has ventured outside of the gallery conscious London base and  ventured out into the pathways of the real world. It describes itself as”The best of the world’s arts, film, music and literature brought to you every day.” and having listened for the past 5 years all I hear is London based reports on artistic endeavours that respond the Chelsea set or to the whims of the announcers.

Part of the implicit structure of production is to keep the announcers happy AT ALL COSTS. And, for some, this requires a bit of cultural grovelling  to the fads and fancies of the announcer which may(or mostly may not) be relevant to the world of the arts.Whims are, after all, just a response to peer group pressure – as in the playground, or more self evidently, as in the teenage years.

And the Radio National programme I am thinking of is just a reflection of the values of the producers and the whims of the announcer.It has become moribund over the years because as the production team has got older their desire to keep up with the trendy cultural events is matched by an aging but sadly condescending response to the arts and particularly as it reflects the lazy production values of deadlines…..

The other problem that flows into these lazy production values is the belief by producers/announcers that because they reflect the ongoing cultural state of the nation they actually influence this cultural state.Sadly, have I got news for you.Far from being the cultural movers and shakers you are merely a part of the publicity/industrial arm of the arts and arts policy. Having been an arts producer I know it can be all too easy to fall into this “mentoring arts” role without thinking about the fact that you spend most of your time being coddled by the publicity arm you pretend to shun.The arts is not an insular product, it is, in fact a base for people to work in and therefore part of the industrial process.

We all grow old and as the young catch up maybe it is time we stopped being lazy and insular in our production values and respond more to the world around us rather than the world within


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