Rolling news is a scourge

Rolling news has always pissed me off.  When nothing big is happening and you just want a summary of the day's stories, they're running some long-form programming that's not news.  When something big is happening, they fill the dead air with minutiae and uninformed speculation, never giving the quick and succinct summary you want.

Working in London during the July bombings, the BBC switched to the rolling news format and was filled with pundits beginning their spiels with phrases like "we don't know all the facts, but if what we're seeing is a terrorist attack..." which was, of course, incredibly frustrating.  It wasn't helped by the fact the British media continued to claim there were "power surges" on the tube, not bombs, long after it'd been confirmed as bombs everywhere else in the world, including whatever my Mum was watching back in Sydney. (I rode my bike to work that day, so didn't notice anything unusual at all until I got to work and found a text message from my Mum asking if I was all right.)

The last few days, with terrible floods in Queensland, we've had Sky News on at the office. What a waste of space!  They fill the air with endless raw footage from a helicopter and random speculation about what could or might happen.  It makes what should be a shocking vista seem mundane with its endless repetition.  At one point we were treated to half an hour spent looping two minutes' footage of people making themselves cups of tea at the Ipswich dogs club evacuation centre.  Gripping stuff!

When I get home I find the ABC has been infected by this idiocy too.  There's a whole channel set aside for this inane crap, but when there's something big happening they switch ABC1 to the same pointless format.  At 19:00 when I expect my normal news summary, instead we get rolling news inanity.  File footage with the talking head speaking to the owner of a roadhouse in Goondiwindi.  THIS SHIT IS NOT NEWS PEOPLE!

Get a grip people.  We want news bulletins that summarise the big stories of the day.  Keep the rolling news crap where it belongs, on the rolling news channel!

A better format for news?

Here's the rolling news service I'd like to see.  It should be doable with IPTV these days too.  Have your talking head spend all the time putting together  and updating news segments in the style of a news bulletin.  These are then chopped into individual clips and stuck into a playlist in order of story importance.  Then whenever someone says they want the latest updated news, they get the current playlist streamed to them.

Of course being a one-to-one transmission, there's no reason you couldn't customise the story categories in your news stream.  Don't care about sport?  Register your preference and never see a sport story.  Particularly interested in stories involving France?  Register for that tag and more importance will be given to stories about France.

The clever way to do this would be to take your existing rolling news service and have a producer editing up the pieces as you go and sticking them in the playlist.  That way you could do it with minimal additional resources.