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Most News is Predictable

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Most news is predictable e.g. we know when the G8 summit is, and we know that the Olympics is on every 4 years. But when the unpredictable occurs such as a terrorist attack, it poses difficulties for news companies because they have to organize themselves in a very short time, in order to inform the public as swiftly as possible.

Channel 4 news is a very respectable news company because it’s very professional with how it handles news and the way it presents it self. Do you think so??

On the 7th of July a terrorist attack on London took place, Channel 4 news quotes “700 injured, 37 dead” it even disrupted the most powerful nations at the G8 summit. I am going to review and analyze the way channel 4 news covered the major news story.

The worst nightmare of a news company is going “live” on TV, when a major news story breaks the reason behind this is that there is barely any organization, they have to get the lines written for the telescripter, they have to get the camera crew and reporters at the scene/s at quick as they can and anything could go wrong.

To begin with the program jumps on the screen with an ambulance and a patient that looks to be burnt is being treated, there senior news presenter John snow has his voice playing over the video, he says “37 dead, 700 injured. In the bombing across central London (video footage of the underground taken by a mobile phone is then played) tube passengers rescued on foot from the tunnels, above ground a bus destroyed by one of the blasts”

The introduction has video footage of the above ground and some of the underground with John snow giving us a brief insight of what’s happened.

Then, there theme tune and intro movie comes on, its filled with a montage of pictures from the London attacks, and in the background it has the world map witch means that they don’t just cover what happens in the UK, they have stories from across the globe. When that finishes an interview with an eye witness appears on screen, “what I saw was a large flash that ignited the carriage, within seconds there was smoke and dust, it was like being in Hell” The last quote “It was like being in Hell” is very powerful and shows to us how traumatic the event was for this man.

Now Footage straight from the G8 summit comes on, it’s Tony Blair he makes a statement, here’s a quote from what he said “we all know what there trying to do, there trying to use the slaughter of innocent people to frighten us out of doing the thing we want to do, trying to stop us going about our business and they should not and must not succeed”.

Now, with John snow standing to the right of the screen and the picture of the destroyed bus in the background with words in capital letters written ATTACK ON LONDON. With papers in his hands he quotes “London’s worst attack since the Second World War, the entire capital cities transport system, tubes, busses, roads and railways paralyzed as at no time in history. A shocking toll of dead and injured” At the moment what John snow is doing is he’s informing us on what’s happened in London (reporting), while this is going on video footage of Tony Blair in G8 comes on, like the video at the beginning. Also we see video of Usama Bin Laden walking over a rocky surface with his cane, at the same time John snow says “we are keeping an open mined on Usama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda”. Still he speaks and now there is footage of ambulances and people walking back home on foot.

A map of central London comes onscreen, he is now doing a voice over telling us where and when the suspected bombs went off.

The first bomb went of in Liverpool street at 8:51am, 5 minutes later in between Kings cross and Russel square another goes off at 8:56am (reported 21 dead at that moment in time), the third occurs at Edgward road at 9:17am (reported 7 dead at that moment in time) and finally at Tavistock another detonates at 9:47am (2 people dead).

Next John snow informs us about the death and injured count at each hospital involved in this catastrophe, First up is the Royal London hospital witch bore the grunt of the injured with 208 patients treated and 6 in critical condition (as he says this the words appear on screen), second is the st Mary’s hospital with 36 casualties and 6 deaths, Thirdly were informed that the University College hospital is coping with 58 casualties and 9 in serious conditions and lastly the Royal Free hospital has 57 casualties and 9 admitted.

Strangely now though John snow comes up with a total injured count of 700, how did he get that some I don’t know but it’s because none of the hospitals can give out the proper number of patients they are looking after and most definitely the number will rise.

Now video footage of Ken Livingstone (Mayor of London) giving a statement quoting “whatever you do, however many you kill, you will fail”. It then cuts back to John snow in the studio, he introduces a reporter Alex Thomson before he passes over to him though he says “this report contains distressing scenes” this is because it is a live show and they are not organized enough and do not have the time to edit it, so they have to stick with what they got.

It is now passed over to the reporter, we see ambulances, footage of people queuing in the underground filmed on a mobile phone and sent in by email to channel 4 news and that is the only video footage they have of the underground, this is because police have restricted the access down there due to the danger levels, dust smoke and to keep a clear path for the emergency services. While Alex Thomson gives his report a man that has been badly burned and is being giving CPR by a paramedic, if this were a normal event, that scene would have been cut and edited out the reason for this is that if the family at home who is related to this man sees him on TV like that and only just found out it would be extremely distressing and unlike news channels in America where they show disembodied limbs and blood, but it is very unusual for us to show scenes like this. Alex goes on about hearing rumours that it was an electrical fault, then a second electrical fault goes off, then he says it is now clear it was no electrical fault it was terrorist bombings and it’s no false alarm for the emergency services.

The first eye witness of this report gets interviewed, he expresses what he saw and felt he also is wearing an eye patch and his face has cuts on it, that is a good person for the news crew to interview because people can see what the explosion has done to this man. After the interview Tony Blair come on and states “it is recently clear that it is a terrorist bombing” it is now confirmed there was no power surges. Next is Ken Livingstone’s turn, you can see disgust on his face and he quotes “that it was aims at just ordinary people”, Next Brian Paddock (deputy police commissioner) tells us where, when and the death toll, obviously we’ve have heard this before it is only there to reinforce it, hear it off someone else and to fill in time.

After that, we are shown video footage of the destroyed bus all though we are not shown any gore. Next, Sir Ian Blair (Metropolitan police commissioner) tells us what is going on, he is what you call an “expert” his job in the news is too tell us what he thinks about it even if we already know, and to get the information of somebody who is actually involved or knows what there talking about. He says “I can only confirm that there has been a series of explosions and there are casualties” also he says “on Al’Queda TV a European group says they did it and that they say London’s burning in fear”, But we already know what he just said, it’s nothing new he’s just reinforcing it. There is now some video footage of London citizens walking back home on foot over a bridge and then the reporter finishes of his report. It is now passed back to John Snow in the studio.

John then immediately talks live to the reporter (Alex Thomson) where he is on kings cross, they talk about how the scenes of the bombings are now crime scenes and that they have found traces of the bombs of the scenes, further enforcing that it was indeed a terrorist bombing. After the talk it cuts back to John, he has a lot of paper scattered over his desk the reason for this is that there was little preparation and organization for this particular broadcast because it is such a major event they have no time to plan out the program, they have to bring out the news as quick as they can in order to bring in the most viewings by the people at home e.g. you and me. So literally John is reading the news from his sources and telling it back to us (with a bit of help from the auto script) live on TV, but that’s why John snow is doing this program because he’s the senior and best presenter they have.

John now introduces the health correspondent Victoria McDonald with the line.

Now camera now goes to Vikki’ at her desk, notice that she is a young female, when she gets too old channel 4 news will probably find a new correspondent the reason being is that people think that older men with fading hair are wiser, whereas with old women they think they are not as wise. She now gives some repeated information then the video report starts.

It starts with repeated footage of ambulances and scenes of the destruction that took place, Chris Randel the eye witness with a burned face in the first report is now back on with the second part of his interview, they split the interview to fill in time and gaps in the program, but we already know what he’s going to say, that it was terrible and he was shocked. Next up is another interview but it’s with Paul White of the royal London hospital, he basically says that “everything is fine and everyone is being treated”. Another eye witness interview appears on the report, it’s the second half of the interview that was earlier shown on the program, all he says in that he got his eye patch because “the windows in the carriage smashed and the glass impacted with my face”.

Yet again another interview this time with Dr Gareth Davies of the Air Ambulance, he states “doctors were brought out to the scenes of the incident and the injured was helped at scene”.

After that there is rolling video of staff entering a hospital, Victoria says over the video that, because of the time of the bombing most staff was already at work and ready and waiting to help. Next up is another interview but it’s with Paul White of the Royal London Hospital, he basically says that “everything is fine and everyone is being treated”. Now it’s another eye witness interview, it’s the second half of the interview that was earlier shown, all he says is that he got his eye patch because “the windows in the carriage smashed and the glass impacted with my face”. A second interview comes on this time with Dr Gareth Davies of the air ambulance, he states “Doctors was brought out to the incident and the injured was helped at the scene”. Next there is a video of the staff entering a hospital as the video rolls Victoria tells us that because of the time of the bombings most staff was already at work and ready and waiting to help.

Professor Jim Ryan of the university collage hospital is now making a statement to the press he says “what are typical to most terrorist bombings is multiple injuries and that’s what we saw today”. The camera cuts back to Vikki at her desk she raps up her report and passes on back to John Snow.

He now talks to Alister Wilson of the Royal Free hospital, they discuss how his hospital took the grunt of the injured he says “most people with minor injuries are already going home”. Alister next says that “we were lucky because we was having a governance day with the air ambulance so they was all set to get doctors out to the scene”. John says his thanks and the camera focus’s on John.

By this time in the show Scotland Yard has got up and running a hotline number for families and friends worried if somebody they know is a victim of the bombings. John just gets the information displayed to him on the auto script and is told to share the information to people at home by the producer through his ear piece, this is not rehearsed because it is a live show and it is breaking news. He now tells and explains the hotline number to the viewers (the number also appears on screen for anyone who missed it or can’t remember what he said), he then reads it a second time to waste time but mainly for people who were rushing for there pens and paper at home.

The camera shifts to the right so that john is on the left of the screen now a freeze shot of the only video footage of one of the underground attacks (the one taken by a mobile phone) appears on the screen near the top left, he says “it is clear it is a terrorist attacks but do we have any ideas who’s behind the attacks”. At this point in the programme it is now moving from the reporting the event to COMMENTING about the event. He passes onto there home correspondent Simon Breal.

Video of the police, fire engines etc rolls on screen, again this is repeat footage and it’s repeating to waste and take up more time. Simon does an introduction telling us what happened but obviously we already know, it’s for the viewers who has just tuned in. A press conference for the emergency services is now shown on screen, a question from one member of the press asks “was there any warning of these attacks before they took place?” the camera is pointed to Andy Trotter expecting him to answer but then Brain Paddock answers, so the camera swiftly make a left turn to face him this shows how live it is and anything could go wrong and they didn’t have time to edit it out. The answer to that question was a distinctive “their was no warning”. Another question from a member of the press was “what is you reaction to that the nightmare scenario has happened and what does that say about the counter terrorist measure that has up to now been deployed?”, Andy Trotter answers “the answer to that has already been said” not really the answer he was looking for but again that just shows they haven’t got the time to edit it out or to find a good spot on the tape to show.

Next there is footage of the Madrid bombing while Simon is doing a voice over it, the reason this particular footage is in there is because the lack of video of the underground it caused the Simon to look else where for similar video footage and the Madrid bomb proved to be quite similar, it’s in there so people can imagine and picture what it must be like in the underground.

Now there is a repeat of more video footage of the chaos in the streets while the commentary further anchors in that it did happen, like next he says the bomb times again and he states that 40 people died from the bus attack alone when John Snow said at the very beginning of the programme that “37 dead, 700 injured” but obviously it’s live and they have to keep up with the updates the are constantly receiving. He finally wraps up his report and it goes back to Ken Livingstone at the press conference, which you expect as he is the Mayor of London, but instead of it being just filmed after the bombings, in the top left corner of the screen it said a date that is in the past, so that video is there just to take up time obviously he mentioned things about the counter terrorist plans.

It’s now back with John in the studio, he still has paper all over his desk showing he is reading the latest news that is given to him and you could say he is in a way “improvising”. Now Dr Shane Brighton (an over paid expect) is on camera telling us what he knows but everything he says we already know, channel 4 news pays the experts who come on to the show extreme amount of money (around �1000) to say information we already know, it’s to waste time and because the classed as experts people automatically think they are right and we should believe and listen to them, but at the end of the day there just giving there opinion on the matter.

After he’s done John introduces Brain paddock (who we’ve seen before) and interrogates him, John first asks “there doesn’t seem to be any intelligence on any account, what have you got to say about that?” the replies “on the basis of information that I have now, there in no intelligence”, which is a clever response because there are people higher up than him who may have information that they don’t want to release but they haven’t told him. Brain also goes on and says about the bomb on the double decker bus that “38 people have been found dead” but early on John said 37 people dead are dead from the bus, this is due to it being live and seriously injured people may have died during the programme, and he says “the figure he has at the moment” so that means it still could change. After Brain is done John repeats what has happened for the viewers who’s just tuned in and also he gives out the hotline number and the Scotland Yard Emergency number to fill in time and now there is the A-T hotline number too. Believe it or not but he repeats what’s happened again to fill in time and for the newly tuned viewers.

After that just like at the beginning of the show the screen changes to the map of the Area of London that got hit, again John does a voice over pointing out where and when the several bombs went off, at this point in the programme to put it simply they have ran out of new fresh and interesting information to report so the only option they have is to repeat footage like to, show the second half of eye witness interviews, get experts in to speculate who is responsible and to wait for any fresh news. After the telling of the bomb times for the second time John reports “Emergency teams are having difficulty rescuing the survivors of the Piccadilly train” he explains that it’s due to it being underground and not being next to an exit but emergency services are working hard and updates are coming in fast.

Carrying on, the camera changes back to the eyewitness at the very start of the programme, the one that states “it’s like being in hell” but this time their broadcasting the second half of his interview. What ever he says we’ve heard it before many times, it’s almost as if words are inadequate and can’t fully explain what he’s feeling or felt, most eye witnesses are the same they highly exaggerate it e.g. referring to Hell, saw a white light, near death experience, life flashed before their eyes. All due respect they have been in a terrorist attack but most people will do anything to be on T.V, So whatever they say tone it down a step and that’s what they mean.

Following on was 4 more second half of eye witness reports this is because they are getting organized in the studio and it is a great time waster and people will be interested in what people will say that were actually in the event. After all that Tim O’toole (managing director, London underground) comes on screen on for a interview and states “we’re now getting access to all of them”. That comment is referring to the underground; this is good news for the people at home worrying.

Next John is in the studio with the picture of the bus behind him, he says “one of the most bloodiest attacks was on a number 30 bus” and then reports “one of the eye witnesses says the noise was like a sonic boom and the roof peeled off like a sardine tin” This leads nicely to a report about it “Hugan Tush has more”.

The report starts off with repeated footage of the police clearing the area and ambulances rushing by while his voice runs over the footage (this is known as a voice over, most reporters use this because it’s very effective as they can report with audio and video at the same time) he says “groups of paramedics are helping outside the bus” then he says “just to the side of the bus on a building is a large blood stain” that comment will shock most viewers at home but also keeps them watching. On screen next is a freeze frame of CCTV footage of the after math of the bomb on the number 30 bus, It is quite a good screenshot because it shows a lot of the carnage the bomb did e.g. the rubble everywhere and the bus ripped apart. They now have a eye witness inter view with Stewart Neil and he says “there was people standing at the top deck of the bus covered in blood, I think the bomb was in the top deck toward the back”, Hugan finishes off by saying the death toll will inevitably get higher.

John gets the live camera again only to pass on another report by the correspondent Lucy manning, her report starts off yet again with more repeat footage of police and ambulances on the streets of London with her doing a voice over basically telling us what happened (but we all ready know). After the introduction there are 3 eye witness interview with a quote from one of them saying “clothes were literally blown of the backs of people” that is a great quote because it gets people imagining it and of course it’s not a very nice sight. Lucy goes on to say that the wounded are being helped by all the paramedics and are ready to go without getting further treatment then the look they just had on the streets. Now Brain Paddock come on again, and he tells us everything we all ready know like what’s happened and how they’re sorting it, he is just repeating what he has said before, this reinforces what he is trying to say and just incase people just tuned in they know what’s going on. There is one more eye witness before it gets passed back to John, a quote from that eye witness is “it looks like a can ripped apart” this is obviously referring to the number 30 bus, this is quite a good description.

John is now back in the studio with two experts (Paul Eadle and Professor Michael Clark) they go on about a website that has been found that has a group of people saying it was them who bombed London (or at least were behind/planned them) Paul quotes “don’t trust the website” Michael now says “with out any doubt that the obvious suspect are Al’Queda”. This conversation is going in the way that they are blaming and accusing people without the facts, the programme is defiantly reached the point where it is SPECULATING. Michael now says he is blaming Al’Queda, Paul quotes “without the forensic info there is no point in speculating”, then Michael says “we have clear enough indication from 2003, 2004 that Bin Laden wanted to target London because of its support on American politics on Iraq. John now talks about how ID cards might be thought about more and about draconian measures, he also says that the website that they were talking about is being updated regularly. John now passes to a correspondent to talk about the G8 summit.

The correspondent starts off talking about G8 and what it is, then the camera switched to George bush and the French prime minister making a statement they vow “terrorism wouldn’t derail the G8 summit” Next just George has an interview, then Jacques Chirac has an interview he talks about that the other 7 nations are aware. The correspondent says “the agenda wouldn’t change (world poverty) but the atmosphere will”, next Lucy talks about Madrid and French security and what they are doing against further terrorism. The shares market is now displayed and shown, next Lucy gives us news about the transport in London she says that the “rails are mostly open” but some are cornered off due it being a crime scene, She also states the busses are returning to normal now, but she next says the roads are still at a grid lock and people are just getting out of there taxis and walking to the airports. She now says all the airports have remained open.

Charles Clark (MP Home Secretary) says he is “now deciding how well we dealt with the problem” Tony Blair now says from the G8 summit “we know that these people act in the name of Islam, but most are decent and law binding”. After that a reporter talks about Tony Blair out side of 11 downing street, he talks about how he dealt with attacks and also he says that all across America they are showing remorse and a video come on showing people in America feeling for what has happened here. Rudolph the reporter says that “London responded greatly, the people were calm” also “life will be affected but not in a major way” this is referring to the transport situation, it raises the question, will people want to use a bus or go on the underground again? He also says that “you can never have perfect security” which is very true e.g. there isn’t a police officer on every corner and how would you tell apart a terrorist to a normal person? Finally the toll number is revisited for the final time then Lucy passes back to John Snow.

John repeats what has happened for the final time (for people just missed the programme but tuned in) then wraps up by saying “till then, that’s channel 4 news, good evening”.

All In all I think that channel 4 news did a very good job in reported what had happened without any warning, considering the circumstances they pulled it off very well. Though in some cases they had a lot of repeat footage due to the fact that the camera men at the scene had little time to work with to get varied and decent footage, also they didn’t have any underground video footage (accept a video taken using a mobile phone, that someone sent in) because of it being sealed off, but I suppose they couldn’t help that. Overall the programme incorporated the three main areas REPORT——-COMMENT——–SPECULATE, structure that most news channel try to fit in, so even under a very short time and heaps of pressure they managed to put together the news broadcast, some times John Snow had a desk full of paper work which was all the news coming in, he did a very good job of almost improving as he went along. I analyzed there programme that aired on the 7th of July and I conclude that even under pressure and being live channel managed to pull it off.

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