I mentioned the other day my frustration with the way the Japanese tsunami is turning into horror-porn for the news networks. It's getting worse. Two of my favourite news programmes (Radio 4's Today and Channel 4 News) have flown out their 'top' anchors to report from Japan: James Naughtie and Jon Snow. I respect them both as broadcasting giants, but their presence in Japan says a lot more about the macho and hierarchical culture of their respective institutions than it does about the disaster.
More precisely, neither of these gentlemen speak Japanese. They can't do any research or story-chasing (neither can the BBC journalist moved hurriedly from North Korea to Japan). All they can do is rely on local talent and official statements made to the world's press in English. So all we're getting (at our expense, in the case of Naughtie) is the dubious pleasure of a familiar face/voice regurgitating facts and claims they haven't researched, in front of disaster footage.
Journalism 0, media 1.
Meanwhile, there's good news for the British economy. Saudi Arabia's dictatorship has sent troops to help the Bahraini dictatorship crush its oppressed protestors. The UK is one of SA's closest allies, and the Saudis have bought literally billions of pounds' worth of weaponry from the UK for their tiny armed forces. I always thought it was part of a little oil/weapons deal, but now those shiny guns are going to get some exercise at last. How proud our political leaders must be.