London’s burning

The 24-hour news channel coverage of the big fire in East London earlier today irritated me a little bit.

I had BBC News 24 playing on my PC, Sky News on in the office and I’m sure, early on, both outlets [1] uttered something along the lines of “We don’t yet know if this is terrorist related.”

Ok, the cloud was pretty darn impressive, and terrorism is probably at the back of a lot of people’s minds. But I honestly don’t think it helps to mention the ‘T’ word with absolutely no evidence.

Now, here’s a thought. The fire was in an area of London with disused warehouses. I’m also pretty sure that most of the journalists involved in the coverage will, at some point, have covered a fairly large fire at a similar sort of place, so should have a fairly good feel for the difference between a warehouse fire and a bomb.

I’ve also taken the opinion that, when faced with a breaking news event [2] such as this, it’s worth following Ockham’s Razor until proven otherwise. I’m not entirely convinced mentioning terrorism as soon as there’s any kind of fire is remotely helpful. If the same fire had happened in, say, Southampton, the T word probably wouldn’t have even been mentioned.

It was a darn impressive cloud though.

As an aside, the story was another example of how blogs can provide us with as good, if not better, coverage than reams and reams of repeated pictures and endless speculation of the 24-hour news channel.

UPDATE: This story has served to remind me exactly why the London freesheets – The London Lite and The London Paper – are utterly awful.

The smoke was visible as far away as Kent. I’m betting every office in the City downed tools for a good five minutes to gawp at it. While the rest of the country probably got bored of the rolling news coverage after about20 minutes this was a story that most Londoners probably wanted to read about. What does the Lite do? Stick a story about Chelsea sodding Davey splitting up from everybody’s favourite illegitimate ginger child.  The biggest news story of the day in London was relegated to a small screen grab on page two.

It was better coverage than The London Paper who chose to ignore it completely, although their front page (Meredith Kercher death) actually came under the category of news.

I wouldn’t have a problem if these were nationwide papers. But they have London in the title. They purport to report on the goings on of London. I know they’ve got afternoon deadlines, but how hard would it be to cobble together a quick report? Hell, I could have taken a photo from my office and pieced together something in under an hour, no problem.  And I would have been able to fit in a cup of tea as well.

[1] I’ll qualify this with an ‘I think’ as I had a fair bit of work to be cracking on with, so I may be doing one of the two news services a disservice, but I definitely heard the phrase.

[2] Or even non-event.


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November 2007
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Yes, this is my name. And my email. Use it wisely or you're not getting a biscuit with your tea: garyllewellynandrews [at] gmail [dot] com

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